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I Traveled During the Coronavirus Pandemic: Here’s Why the U.S. Is Losing the Fight Against COVID-19
When it comes to pet peeves, my biggest one is people who are inconsiderate of others. Whatever happened to manners? People taking selfies in locker rooms, men who don’t pay on a first date, neighbors who play loud music, anyone who doesn’t say “thank you” when you hold a door open for them. The list goes on! Somewhere along the lines we’ve gotten so focused on ourselves that we can disregard the other people around us. Sure, other countries aren’t immune to bad manners, but when it comes to the ‘Me, Myself, and I’ mentality, no one does it better than Americans. Think about how we treat our citizens when it comes to education and healthcare. It’s no surprise that chivalry is going out the door faster than the next celebrity cancellation.
We’re in a pandemic. This is a time of science and healthcare, yet here in the United States, something as simple as wearing mask has somehow morphed into a political issue. I’m not sure if I’m in America 2020 or Thunderdome. When did we stop listening to doctors? And no, I’m not talking about those people in YouTube conspiracy videos. The same folks who’ll gladly listen to their doctor when it comes to any other health-related issue now shun wearing a mask despite the nation’s top disease experts saying we should. The point of the mask is protect to each other – to be considerate of one another – and we’re failing miserably.
I just recently traveled to California and while my trip going home was fine, the journey out there was a rude awakening that even in the most vulnerable situations, some people just don’t care. Now, before you criticize me for traveling in the first place, I had booked this birthday trip a while back and it was a break that I desperately needed. Time away from home and work is part of self-care as well, and Lord knows I was feeling burnt out. And because I understand the risks, I was going to make sure I did everything in my power to be safe while I traveled.
Oddly enough, I nearly didn’t make it out to California in the first place. I was traveling on American Airlines and had booked my flight through Cheap Tickets. I had used this booking site a dozen times, but somehow this time around they failed to notify me that my flight time had changed. So, upon arriving at the airport in Grand Rapids, I was shocked to find out my flight already took off. I was put on standby, and if there’s one silver lining of traveling in a pandemic, it’s that your odds of making it on the plane if you’re standby are greatly improved. Instead of having a layover in Chicago, I’d be stopping over in Dallas, Texas. It was this second flight out of Dallas, however, that made me a nervous wreck.
I got onto the plane, relieved to find that the middle seat between myself and a male passenger was empty. After wiping down my seat, handles, and tray table though, I began to notice one by one the people sitting around me not wearing their masks. The mother across the aisle in my row took hers off as she gazed at her phone. The guy in the window seat beside me moved his below his mouth – seriously dude, at that point why even have it on your face. Then the guy across the aisle in the row in front of me removed his. And don’t even get me started on the young woman directly in front of me who waltzed onto the plane not wearing a mask at all! Not only that, she never wore it for the entire flight – only putting it on once it was time to de-board the plane after we landed. I watched as multiple flight attendants walked by and said nothing. Mind you, these people were physically capable of wearing masks to get onboard and they weren’t eating or drinking. If I was ever going to have an anxiety attack, this would be the time. My in-flight wifi purchase simply became a Facebook and Twitter vent on how poor this experience was. It’s easy to roll our eyes at people we see on social media bash wearing masks, but when that lack of consideration directly puts your own health at risk, yeah, you become angry. Gone are the days of just being bothered by people who lean their seat back or put their bare feet up. Simpler times…
I don’t envy the job of a flight attendant right now, and while I do think it was their responsibility to enforce the mask policy that American Air has adopted, more than that I believe it was the responsibility of those passengers to be considerate to the well-being of others – even strangers.
So, when we ask ourselves why the U.S. is seeing such spikes in Coronavirus cases, the answer may very well lie in the fact that some of us still need a good hard lesson in manners.
About the author
Jill Zwarensteyn is a writer and comedian who has been featured on Amazon, truTV, The New York Times, Matador Network, BUST Magazine, Sleep Advisor, Tiplr, ARTRPRNR Magazine, YourTango, Thought Catalog, GoMad Nomad, Mashable, The Daily Mail UK, the Cannes Film Festival, LaughFest, Women's Lifestyle Magazine, and the Funny Women Festival LA. For more info visit: http://www.jillzwarensteyn.weebly.com