When the tried and true is new again

Listen: Tried and True Part 1
Listen: Tried and True Part 2

Bang! Bang! Bang! The sudden noise startled all of us. Especially since we weren’t due to open for 20 more minutes.

The man peeking through the window was shielding his eyes with cupped hands. Our eyes are an odd thing, they blink automatically and unconsciously when confronted with a threat. Sure, we can make them blink, but it’s as if our eyes don’t trust our minds to do the right thing.

“I need to talk to a manager,” said the man. 

“I’m sorry but you have to put a mask on,” replied the manager.

“I must speak to a manager,” he answered, as if “must” justified not wearing a mask, in public, after passing two large signs making that legal requirement clear.

I don’t know if the manager hadn’t opened the door consciously or unconsciously, but it turned out to be the right decision.

The man launched into a minute’s long diatribe about how Covid was a hoax and the vaccine was not good, and how sunshine was the best thing for health, etc. etc. etc.

But when an irresistible force hits an immoveable object, we usually understand which one is actually more powerful. In other words, when he couldn’t get what he wanted, he put a mask on.

“You are perfectly safe,” he said when that door finally swung open. “I should know, I’m a doctor.”

“I beg your pardon sir, but you will have to forgive me for being reluctant to take medical advice from a complete stranger,” replied the manager.

There’s an old saying about vampires, the bloodsuckers can’t enter your house and threaten you unless you invite them in. Funny, how there’s no such contrivance regarding vampires and “bonafide” public eating places. I guess in such instances soul sucking jeopardy is free to just walk right on in. But I digress.

Indoor reopening has been both the best of times, and the worst of times. On one hand there are all the people simply happy to be out, in public, doing something that at least feels familiar and normal. Then there are the people that have been locked up with just themselves for the past year. All alone with nowhere else to point the finger of blame. And for people who blame everything on everyone else, that can be an enormous problem. Self -examination is not for everyone, especially, oddly, not for the people who need it most.

“Sir, you have to wear a mask when moving about the building,” I said to the man wandering about, already two steps over the posted rules.

“Don’t worry son,” he said. “I’ve been vaccinated.”

“That’s nice sir,” I replied, “But I haven’t been.”

That part of the equation hadn’t even occurred to him. And it’s a refrain we in the industry are hearing over and over again. Do we really have to explain all over again that masks are for the protection of other people? I will leave the “son” part for another day.

Meanwhile I turned back to the two couples sitting at the bar, both sets of which were regulars before, during, and now in the beginning of the after of Covid. In fact, without people like them it is doubtful whether many restaurants would have survived.

A year ago, many seemed more concerned with whatever the hottest coolest thing was. Media outlets often overlooked longtime established bars and restaurants for that new upstart, the newest kid on the block doing the newest thing. It seemed it was always new, new, new. And the public at large fell in lockstep behind them.

“I am so happy just to be sitting at this bar,” said the man I had known for years. “It’s so nice to be back,” he said polishing the wood with his hands.

“It’s nice to have you back!” I replied genuinely.

Just then the manager passed by following a woman.

“You can’t just go up to other tables, ma’am,” he said.

“Why not?” she asked.

“Six feet distancing, ma’am.”

“But I know them.”

Everyone at that table shook their heads in the negative.

“Who invited that one?” asked the man at the bar gesturing with his thumb.

No one, I suspected. And that just might be the crux of the problem.

Leaving me with these thoughts:

-There’s an old joke: What do you call someone who graduated last in medical school? “Doctor” is the answer.

-Vampires cannot see their own reflections. Ironic huh?

-Some people aren’t really doctors, they just play one out in public.

– Strange how it sometimes takes times of stress to really teach us the value of the tried and true.

-“Hey Doctor, I need a drink over here!” Man, how I’ve missed hearing that!