Yesterday I experienced something I’ve not in a very long time–overwhelming rage.
I had a shortened work day yesterday because I got stuck at work late every day this week–didn’t leave at my usual time once, and even Wednesday was stuck there past five, which never happens. Anyway, I had a check I needed to deposit. I ran my errands yesterday morning, swung by my bank branch on Tchoupitoulas to discover it was damaged by Ida and temporarily closed, so I had to go by the branch at St. Charles and Louisiana–which is new, and I’d never been there before. (Constant Reader may not know or remember this, but when I was in college I worked as a bank teller for a year; so I know something about banks and how they work; although that knowledge is nearly forty years out of date and we didn’t have the computer technology that exists today so yeah, it’s probably different in many ways now than it was back then–but I tend to get very judgy about service in banks because, well, I used to work in one. However I do not usually allow my irritation or aggravation with shoddy bank service get to me the way this situation did yesterday.) When I walked into the branch there was one teller working the drive through window and one teller working the walk-in clients. I was, as always, very happy to see the sign on the door mandating masks be worn inside; I had mine with me as I always do, and walked into the little serpentine maze to get in line. There was one person at the teller’s window, with me waiting.
And that was when I noticed the woman transacting business at the teller window was not wearing a mask! Not pushed down under her nose, or hanging off one ear, or draped over her shoulder, or pulled down under her chin–there was no evidence that she had a mask with her, no evidence she’d ever had one on, nothing. I sat there, wondering why the teller was waiting on her and also why there was no security guard on duty; I don’t think I’ve ever gone into a bank in over thirty years that didn’t have a security guard; I may not have ever seen this happen before…and then thought to myself, ah, no security guard, the masked teller probably didn’t want to cause a scene or have any trouble without the presence of a guard to escort Virus Vicky here out of the branch.
Despite coming up with this explanation, it still made me angry–but I can understand why a teller wouldn’t want to cause trouble in this instance (also, teller was an older Black woman; Virus Vicky was an older white woman of indeterminate age, somewhere between thirty-five and sixty–so there could have been racial/power disparities; what if Virus Vicky was a business customer, white/Black, etc.). I did decide, however, that I would ask the teller why she provided service for someone violating not only the bank’s posted policy but the mayor’s city-wide indoor business mask mandate. And then came the piece de resistance: Virus Vicky concluded her transactions, walked over to the copy machine by the offices, made a copy , and went into an office, took a seat behind the desk and began talking to the man seated on the customer’s side of what was obviously her desk.
Virus Vicky, maskless and defiant of both the bank’s posted policy and the city’s mandatory mask mandate, was at the very least a new accounts manager, if not a loan officer.
She. Was. MANAGEMENT.
There was no point in saying anything to the teller–who was incredibly polite, friendly, and efficient–but by the time I walked out of the branch to my car, receipt in hand, I was shaking with rage. All the way home I thought about what, if anything, to do. All I could think about was whether this woman was vaccinated (still, not an excuse not to mask indoors–particularly since the city AND her employer demanded masks inside) or if she was a COVID-denier/anti-vaxxer monster. Regardless, I thought as I pulled up in front of the house, she should be held accountable for her behavior.
All the way home, my mind was raging. Once I got home, I sat down at my computer, went to my bank’s website, and clicked on the contact us link. I wrote out the entire tale, all the while debating whether or not to post it to social media….but finally, gradually, eventually decided not to send the email, not to post on Yelp, not to do anything about this.
Maybe her mask was at her desk, maybe the client she was dealing with didn’t care and had said it was okay to not wear hers in front of him, and she’s just forgotten to to put it back on….the more I thought about it, the more reasons and explanations I came up with. How many times have I walked out of the house, only to walk back from my car because I’d forgotten to take one? How many times have I taken mine off at my desk in the office, only to get up to go do something and have to run back to my desk to grab the mask? The more I thought about, the more my anger dissipated, and I started thinking about the source of the unbelievable, deeply rooted anger this situation aroused in me, to try to begin to understand it a little better. I mean, seriously–I was fucking furious to the point that my hands were shaking with rage as I drove home from the bank.
And I realized a few things.
Mainly, that I’m fucking exhausted. As we are now going into month twenty-fucking-one of this pandemic, I have little to no patience left for anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers, and COVID-deniers. I want it to be over, and it makes me furious that the idiotic selfishness of a minority of our population has prolonged this agony. There are friends who I only get to see once or twice a year, at conventions or events, and I have not seen them in over two years. I don’t get to go visit my parents as often as I would like. I’ve not traveled anywhere other than Kentucky (to visit my parents) since this entire thing started. And while traveling is its own hell, in and of itself (thanks, airlines!), I do miss getting to New York once or twice a year, going to Bouchercon or other events like it, seeing my friends regularly here in New Orleans. Life is very short and time is very precious (as I am beginning to finally understand) and I resent, very deeply, that some of what will inevitably be the final part of my life has been wasted because people are fucking selfish idiots. My patience is at an end, my well of kindness (never all that deep, really) is drying, and I’m just tired. Of it all.
I also realized I had no moral high ground to send a nasty email to my bank when I am going to Tiger Stadium on Saturday night and will be in a crowd of over a hundred thousand people, none of whom are going to be masked, and 99% of whom will have their mouths open yelling and screaming for over three hours. How much spray am I going to get on me at the game? It’s something I’ve never really considered before in going to a football game, but it’s still kind of concerning. They have advised everyone to get to the stadium early–we have to show proof of vaccination or a negative test result from within the last 72 hours, and that will take some time to sort, obviously–and while I am very grateful that LSU is taking these steps to make the stadium as safe as possible, it’s still a potentially massive super-spreader event, and I will be right in the middle of it.
And while the stadium has these safety restrictions, there are no such restrictions on tailgaters…and we’ll have to walk through thousands of them to get to the stadium.
So, reporting this woman felt kind of hypocritical, to say the least.
But my angry reaction to this woman was so deep, so visceral and intense, that I definitely needed to explore the source of it. I also realized that part of the anger I feel about having to continue to deal with something that could easily be long over is because I am tired, to the bone, of selfish assholes who don’t feel any responsibility of any kind to the society they live in. I’m tired of religion being used to further the greed and desire for power of some individuals, who then use that religion as a bludgeon to clobber and oppress groups of people they feel superior to for some reason (although almost every sect of Christianity is drenched in the smug superiority of the saved vs. “the damned”; and there’s definitely an essay in there). I’m tired of a political class beholden to corporations and the wealthy rather than to the vast majority of constituents who are neither. I’m tired of our country’s natural resources, wealth, and treasury being looted so people and businesses who could never spend every cent they possess get to keep more of their loot.
I find it deeply ironic that the trash who spent at least thirty or so years of my life crying about their children being exposed to GAY PEOPLE OH MY GOD WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN? not giving a shit that the world they are leaving behind for their precious babies and grand-babies is well on its way to becoming an uninhabitable shithole…and are gleeful about it.
I think one of the many reasons Ted Lasso resonated so strongly with its audience isn’t just because the show is predicated on kindness and being supportive of others, but because its characters are also learning accountability, and are learning to hold themselves accountable for their behavior–something that is sorely lacking in our culture, society and country at the moment; the lack of accountability, and the apparent lack of interest in holding anyone accountable from our so-called leadership.
And it’s tiring, very tiring.
And on that note, I am off to the spice mines. Have a lovely Friday, Constant Reader.