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  • Day23

    Social Distancing Phobia

    March 20, 2020 in the United States ⋅ 🌧 50 °F

    By phobia, I don’t mean being afraid to social distance ourselves. Quite the opposite ... I mean the phobia that is making some people take the concept of keeping space between oneself and others to extremes.

    I get that people are afraid of the coronavirus. Rightfully so. I am too. We should all take it seriously. Washy washy hands with hot water and soap — frequently — as well as disinfecting when water is not available is key. Putting space between ourselves and others is an excellent precaution as well.

    Why am I writing about this? Because there’s a passenger on this aircraft who was taking the social distancing to an unhealthy extreme while we were at the gate awaiting the call to board. This increases the stress level unnecessarily ... not good for our mental health, which is essential in combatting the coronavirus.

    Here's the story ...

    When we arrived at our gate at BOS, we happened to take two seats across from said passenger. WHO says to keep a distance of 3 feet with others ... 6 feet is recommended by some organizations. There was far more than 6 feet of separation between us and this woman ... we at one end of a row of seats and she at the other end of the row of seats across from us ... sitting catty-corner and not even face to face.

    She immediately berated me by saying that we’re supposed to practice social distancing. To which I politely responded that I was doing just that by not sitting next to or immediately behind her. I also mentioned that there was about 10 feet between us. Huffing, she told me that I was so smart. I don’t think she meant it in a nice way.

    When Mui sat down next to me, the woman gathered her stuff, told me that “I’m just like all the other Bostonian liberals,” and moved all the way across the waiting area. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I had only been a Bostonian for a few short months ... and that was when I was born in one of the suburbs of the city 60+ years ago! Best not to engage further.

    Guess what? Minutes after she moved, newly arriving passengers started taking seats near her ... always with plenty of distance ... definitely more than 6 feet apart. She put on gloves and a surgical mask and moved away again. Eventually, there was nowhere for her to go.

    And now ... here she is in the first class cabin with 15 other passengers ... with no social distancing whatsoever for the next 4 hours and 19 minutes. Even odder, she doesn’t seem to have any qualms standing by the bathroom to chit chat with others in much closer proximity than she ever was to us or the passengers around her at the gate prior to boarding. By my count, there are at least two crew members and another passenger standing with her in the tiny space between the bathroom, galley, and the cockpit door. Go figure!

    I’m sad for this woman. I get her fear ... I really do. I even gave her the benefit of the doubt, thinking that perhaps she has an underlying medical condition that made her more cautious. That thought went out the window when she forgot all about social distancing and engaged people in close proximity ... as she is doing even as I write this.

    The stress of the circumstances we find ourselves in these days can be alleviated by educating ourselves on what is right and wrong ... what to do to protect ourselves ... what to do to protect others ... what not to do because it has no practical benefit.

    Keeping as positive an outlook as possible under the circumstances will help our mental health. And will go a long way towards helping us get through these difficult times under which we must continue to live our lives.

    Stay safe ... stay healthy ... remain upbeat!

    (More info about social distancing and other preventive measures at this link, which is one of many one can goggle on the web ... https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/coronavirus-social-distancing-and-self-quarantine)
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