Advice From the Trenches

Advice from the Trenches: Fuck you syndrome

Dear C and Dr. B:

Yesterday I was at the drugstore waiting in the drive-up window line. My fellow passenger in the car had tested COVID-positive and we were picking up his anti-viral prescription. Because of that, I was wearing a mask and driving with all windows open in order to protect myself.

A guy driving through the parking lot yelled at me “You don’t have to wear a mask, asshole, you’re outside!” I foolishly attempted to explain by pointing at my fellow passenger and saying “He’s COVID-positive, I really need the mask!”

The other driver’s response was to show me his middle finger, scream “FUCK YOU!” and then  burn rubber out of the parking lot. For good measure, he threw some garbage out his window.

OK, what the hell? Why are people still so messed up over this mask thing that I was harassed and verbally attacked in a drugstore parking lot for wearing one in my own car?  

– Aghast Asshole

Dr. B says:

Singular issues have become fundamental religions in our current society. Politics, race, gender, abortion, guns, climate change – they’ve all become holy causes to both individuals and online supporters. Social media has served as a platform which allows for the singular focus of issues to the point where it has become some people’s identity and meaning. They are willing to physically fight over their causes and violence is not uncommon around these issues. This is not a passing phenomena and will likely only get worse. 

Everyone I know has been moving to Maine to get away from the fallout. One of the primary reasons is a fear of the looming chaos.  

The mask is now a major symbol of one’s politics and you could literally get beat up over wearing one in the wrong place. It’s crazy and against common sense and often against our own best interests, but this is what blind faith in fundamentalist ideology can do. 

C says:

I’m as blown away as you are, Aghast. People are acting like idiots all over the place. At this point, I’ve adapted my own strategy for dealing with other people’s insane crap. I pretend that I am a staff attendant on a psych ward, and I handle the crazies as if they were patients in my care. I don’t argue with them, I don’t reason with them, I do not try to explain anything to them. I just smile pleasantly, avoid eye contact and keep an eye out for sharp objects as I make my getaway as quickly and quietly as possible.

The pandemic has done something to us. I’ve read a lot of scholarly theories and opinions on the various trends and mechanisms involved, but none of that seems to have any effect on our general social mayhem. 

There are so many larger forces that are outside of our control that I think that a lot of people are taking out their misplaced anger on anything that is within reach. Screaming at total strangers for wearing masks is the least of it. There has been a frightening rise in mass shootings. People drive their cars into groups of bystanders at public parades, and torch churches and synagogues. There is no telling when the next act of domestic terrorism will occur.

My advice? Watch your ass, don’t get into it…and above all, do not EVER try to convince someone frothing at the mouth with rage that they are wrong and you are right. The next time someone calls you an asshole for wearing a mask, let him have his opinion and leave it at that.

– Cathren Housley 

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