Thirty-seven years ago, while living in Alaska, my wife and I were given an opportunity to go on a weeklong cruise of the Hawaiian Islands. Republic Automotive picked up the tab. Our group consisted of perhaps forty people, most all connected to the automotive parts industry. Transportation was provided roundtrip out of Anchorage.
It was January and brutally cold. Our plane departed around one in the morning, and I was never so glad to be out of there. A lady sitting behind me with no connection to our group was sniffing and coughing. She must’ve felt guilty because I heard her remark to a flight attendant,
“I planned this trip a year ago and nothing’s going to stop me from going!”
At the time I didn’t think too much about what this woman said. A day later when I was sick, and just about everyone else in our party had the crud, I remembered her statement. Coming down with the flu while on a ship is not the most pleasant experience. One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch came to mind here. Undoubtedly, had this woman wore a mask she could’ve spared some of us her misery. I doubt that even crossed the gal’s mind.
This woman who I nicknamed, “Hacking Harriet,” was selfish enough to be totally unconcerned about spreading her germs to others. All she cared about was getting to Maui. There are millions just like her out there. Today, many of them use the term “freedom” in justifying just about anything they do. Ignoring the speed limit, tailgating, setting off mega-loud fireworks where they’re prohibited, cursing loudly when children are present, littering, not picking up after their dog, the list goes on and on.
The other morning, I was in a local industrial store to purchase some hydraulic fittings. A customer standing in front of me was coughing and hacking. He looked absolutely horrible. I instinctively stepped back a couple of paces with flashbacks of Hacking Harriet coming to mind. Thankfully, the store door was open, and a small breeze pushed all of his germs the opposite direction of me. A store employee standing downwind wished the fellow luck on getting better. The sick customer’s response was amazing,
“I should’ve never come to work.”
I almost blurted out, “No kidding buddy!”, yet bit my tongue.
A couple of days later I was back in this store and noticed several faces missing. Asking an employee, I was told a few guys called in sick. I pretty much predicted that’d happen. No one in the building had on masks except me. Thankfully, I sported one the previous trip as well.
With the callous and carefree attitude of so many people, this covid virus will never go away. There’s now talk about letting medical workers come to work ill, just like that guy I encountered in the industrial store. It doesn’t take a huge amount of smarts to see how that’ll turn out.
The Hacking Harriet’s of this world will continue to do as they do. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, they lost a few marbles. I’m thankful with mounting years, that I still have mine, plus a few that I found.