George Carlin used to do this bit where he’d note that anyone driving more slowly than you is an idiot, and anyone driving faster than you is a maniac. We now do the same thing with masks. Anyone who wears a mask in a situation where you’d be comfortable without one is uptight and panicky. Anyone who doesn’t wear one in a situation where you’d be uncomfortable without one is endangering us all. And no matter which situation we’re in, we do the same thing: the Collective Eyeroll. Whether they’re the maniac or the idiot, we’re invariably right and they’re invariably worthy of that rolling of the eyes.
The Carlin bit is funny not because it’s true, but because it acknowledges our fallibility as human beings; to every maniac, we’re the idiot, and to every idiot, we’re the maniac. We’re laughing at ourselves when we laugh at that joke. Foolish consistency may be, as Emerson said, the hobgoblin of little minds, but foolish inconsistency is the hobgoblin of everyone else.
And even worse is our smug superiority- the Collective Eyeroll happens no matter which role we play in that scenario, and while it may be funny when we acknowledge our own weakness and tendency to judge, the other side of that coin is this: we’re pretty much all jerks. In deciding whether someone’s a maniac or an idiot in the split second that someone drives past you or you drive past them, or glancing at a masked or maskless face, we’ve already judged and sentenced them.
The people who know me best will be quick to tell you that I’m the quickest on the draw when it comes to being the judge and the jury. The seventy-something guests who behaves like a petulant child? Scammer. The jackass who refuses to make eye contact or acknowledge the server when he or she stops by to ask how dinner is? Cur. those two were one and the same the other night when the ribs were dismissed for not having “that rib taste.” “You mean barbecue sauce?” “No, it’s too complicated to explain.” Scammer and cur.
So this email isn’t for you so much as it’s for myself: cut it out. Doug, it could just be a guy who’s having a bad day. He may be neither scammer nor cur, maniac nor idiot. Everyone else I’m preaching to from my electronic soapbox, the person without a mask may or may not be vaccinated, and they may just have forgotten to put a mask on the same way that I find that I’ve driven for ten minutes before realizing that I left my mask on from my trip to the grocery store. And that person with the mask may be worried about bringing something home to the kids who can’t be vaccinated yet, or just not comfortable yet. I just hope that I can remember that we’re all people with different comfort levels, and who’ve been affected differently by the pandemic, be it physically, economically or emotionally, and I hope we can- and I say this in spite of my own very palpable shortcomings in this area- just be extra nice to one another for a bit longer. Soon things will be back to some semblance of normal and we can all start treating each other like crap again.
As for us, our means of being nice is to offer hospitality and gracious service, to the best of our ability, to all comers, as long as they return the favor and treat us with kindness and respect. We intend to make the best food we can,
serve the best drink we can,
and thrown in the occasional best event we can
until normalcy reigns supreme once more, whereupon we’ll do our best to thank you and continue to offer more fo the same.
Your friend and, for all practical purposes, patient,