Editorial: Joys of freedom slowly returning 

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 4, 2021

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Walking through the grocery store on Saturday morning, my big head got in the way.

One of those little straps that held my face mask in place went boing, and the mask went flying to the floor. I picked it up, and tried to put it back onto my oversized noggin, but those things just don’t work without both straps.

So I continued shopping, walking the last couple of aisles without a mask. I kept my head down and made eye contact with no one. I didn’t want to get one of those dirty looks, or even worse, be on the other end of one of those loud people who consider themselves the mask police.

I felt free.

Free from the aggravation of smelling my own breath. I brushed my teeth this morning, what’s going on here? Free from the aggravation of having my glasses get foggy. Uh-oh, I just steered my grocery cart into a display of mayo. Free from the aggravation of wondering if I had the stupid thing on backwards. Other people had theirs on differently, so one of us is doing it wrong.

Frozen butterbeans never looked better. Even the yogurt looked appetizing without a mask, and that’s saying something. The adult beverage section was marvelous.

It felt good to remember what freedom is like.

And then I got to thinking. As much as I find face masks annoying, I wear them because I choose to. I’ll continue to do so, at least until the major threat of spreading — or getting — COVID goes away. It may be before, or it may be after, some politically-motivated hack says masks are no longer necessary.

That time may not be that long in the future.

We’re coming up on the one-year anniversary of the day our lives were turned upside down, inside out, and stomped on repeatedly.

People are still getting COVID, but the rate of infections seems to be headed on a steady downward trend. More people are being vaccinated every day. All will help bring our lives back to our new normal.

I said new normal, because it looks like we’ll never get back to the way it was before COVID. Online learning is here to stay, maybe not at the level it is now, but it’s here to stay.

Some say the changes folks have made are for the better, and that may be true. Let’s take a look at a few.

Those plexiglass partitions that separate us from the folks who serve us at the stores are a great idea. Right? They help protect us both from flying spittle. That only works if those partitions are cleaned on a regular basis. I also don’t want to talk into a piece of plexiglass that has spittle on it from the last 20 people who had made a transaction there. Sometimes you have to get close to that partition so the person on the other side can understand you. Yuck. One person’s spittle doesn’t sound so bad now, does it?

Social distancing may be OK for some people, but not everyone. I’m OK with social distancing. It’s easier to make a quick exit if needed. It’s nice to be out of range of things like a flying fist — or even worse — an angry mother. My family was not a family of huggers. We loved each other — still do — but hugs were rarely part of the equation. My wife, on the other hand, is the opposite. She hugs everybody. Someone without a mask could get so close to her in the store they stepped on her toe, and she would hug them and say “bless your heart.”

Wash your hands with warm water and soap, often. That’s always a good idea. We know where our hands have been. Enough said.

Yes, we’re getting closer to realizing some of the freedoms we lost because of the pandemic.

But we won’t be really free until we can walk down the toilet paper aisle at any store, and it is filled with every brand imaginable, soft and tough, quilted and plush, there for the taking.

Ahhh, the joys of freedom.

Mike Barnhardt is editor of the Davie County Enterprise Record.