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Before the Mask

This is a personal story I would share with my future grandchildren.

When I have grandchildren, I often wonder what I would tell them. Ya know, what wisdom I would pass along to them. Some type of first-hand history lesson to impart to them. Now, thanks to COVID-19, I believe the story would be about change. Perhaps this is the story I would pass along as I would pull my grandchild to sit close as I would tell this story…

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“Back in my day, before we all wore masks, and even during the wintertime, me, your grandma, your uncle, and your daddy would gather together and travel to join thousands of other people in a confined building to do what was lovingly called ‘shopping’. We would all push around these lagre, wheeled carts dodging around one another to find what we needed for the household like food, clothing, and toiletries. We would see friends gathered there as well and shake their hands or hug them and ask how they have been.

“All around us strangers would be talking, accidentally bumping into each other, rubbing elbows, and some would be there coughing, sneezing, and complaining about their colds they caught that season. But nobody really cared. There would be people everywhere we turned. We would continue pass them to do our shopping. We weren’t even afraid to use the public facilities when nature called.

“Once done with our shopping, we take our overloaded cart of goods and join hundreds of others to stand in long, boring lines, and wonder, ‘Where the hell are the other cashiers?’ If we left even the smallest distance between us and the person in front of us, someone would jump in to fill the space. We would pointedly tell them that we were there first, and to go to the back of the line. We would sometimes make conversation with the people behind us, in front of us, or in the lines to either side of us. Sometimes shaking hands.

“Once we made our way to the cashier, who would scan our goods and tell us how much it would all cost, they would sometime be sickly  ̶ coughing, sneezing, wiping their nose with a tissue from their pocket ̶  and complaining how they tried to call-out, but their boss insisted that show up for work no matter how sick they were because others had already called out. ‘Oh, that’s why there’s no cashiers today,’ we would comment.

“We would continue conversing with the sick cashier as they scanned and talked and coughed and wiped their nose. No problem. Once we gave them cash or handed our credit card to them to be scanned by them, they would hand us our change or gave us back our card, they would go into a coughing fit as they handed us our receipt. We would simply thank them and wish them to get well and pushed our cart out of the building load our car and head back home.

“And we did all this without masks.”

I would smile down at my beautiful grandchild after parting with this little wisdom of personal history as they would lean away from me with wide-eyed disbelief while sternly shouting at me, “GRANDPA, PUT YOUR MASK BACK ON!

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I hope you enjoyed my little piece of history that I would share to my grandchildren in the future. I know some of you may have similar stories to share about their times “before the mask”.

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