Today dawned a beautifully sunny, bitterly cold day. It doesn’t take much for the wind chill to bring a -12C (10F) morning to -22C (-7F)! It was good to get outside, though, where a whole crowd of furry adorableness was out waiting for me.
I didn’t post yesterday, other than the critter of the day photo, and I’m still debating where I should write about it at all. I generally try to focus on the things we do and find around the property, but this blog is also about our transition to life out here, and the things we deal with. Obviously, there are things I’ll never write about in a public blog, even anonymously, but I do try to cover what I can, as openly as possible. The good and the bad.
Yesterday was both.
Yesterday is also the first time it brought me to tears.
Believe me. It takes a lot to get me to that point.
The first tears were tears of … how do I even describe it? Humiliation? Frustration, to be sure. Emotional pain. Even a sense of betrayal.
My husband needed a prescription refill. The pharmacy was closed on Remembrance Day, so he ended up calling it in on the first day of our province locking things down again. They’re also pushing the mask mandates even harder, despite all evidence showing that it’s not actually accomplishing anything. Pretty much everyone is complying, but the test positivity numbers continue to go up, as we work our way through flu season.
My husband forgot to ask the pharmacy about my medical exemption. I’ve never had a problem there before. I’ve always used the sanitizer, kept my distance, but have never worn a mask, and they have never said a thing about it. However, after what happened while in a pharmacy with my mother, I figured I should ask first.
Maybe I shouldn’t have. Would it have been any different, if I just came in, as usual?
I called the pharmacy and asked if they would still honour my medical exemption. I did add that I now have a shield.
At first, the pharmacist I spoke to said yes, of course. He even joked that I might have to wrestle my way in, but added that I just needed to explain to whomever was at the door. That was a relief.
I got a call back less than a minute later.
The pharmacist had just been told that no, even with a shield, I could not come in.
This really threw me. I didn’t really get a chance to respond, as he was already offering delivery, which we can’t do because we don’t have a credit card, and debit Visa is not an alternative they can do. He said they could bring the prescription to me in the parking lot and asked if I were paying by cash. I told him by debit. It turned out they did have a wireless debit machine, so I could pay in the parking lot. I told him I had other things I needed to get, so I was transferred so floor staff. Thankfully, I already had made a list. Usually, I just go by memory.
By the time the staff member finished getting what was on my list, I was was in tears. I did make a point of telling her I had a problem with having to do this, how humiliating it was, and yeah, she could certainly hear I was crying by then.
Here’s the thing. If they offered this as a service, which I knew they already did, for anyone who chose it, that is simply good customer service. The problem is that, for someone like myself, who cannot wear a mask, there is no choice. We are simply banned. There’s a whole list of things that we can still do. Masking is the last thing recommended, and only in specific situations, and the mandates have several exemptions. Yet, outside of websites and pdfs, it’s the other way around. Masks have become the end all-be all, and if anyone has a problem with them, they become pariahs. Even as the mandates allow for medical exemptions, people insist that there is no medical reason to not wear a mask, or that it’s just for a short time, so wear it anyway. I know people who are wheelchair users that can walk short distances. It would be like telling them that, since they can walk at least a little bit, they have to leave their wheelchairs outside. Or worse, that if they can walk at all, they shouldn’t be allowed to use a wheelchair. Or they should just stay home. It’s the exact same sort of discrimination.
The other place I needed to go to was the grocery store, so I pulled myself together and phoned them, too.
Will they still honour my medical exemption? I do have a shield I can wear.
Of course, was the response. Everyone does!
I told the woman I was talking to that the pharmacy would not let me in, even with a shield. She was stunned, but went to double check, just in case. She came back to assure me that I would have no problem.
I was crying again as I thanked her, this time in gratitude.
When I got to town, my first stop was the pharmacy. I called from the parking lot to let them know I was there, and two people came out with my stuff. I recognized the manager was one of them, simply because he was male and not a pharmacist; all the other staff are female. Most of the pharmacists are, too. There was a cashier with him, and I think I recognized her by her hair. They put my stuff in the van, behind my seat, for me. The manager commented that this was the first time their wireless debit machine had ever been used. The cashier was there to be trained on it.
Oh, the irony.
Because my purchase was over $100, tap wouldn’t work, so he had to hand me the machine. The cashier had the till receipt, so after they got the printout from the handheld machine, she put them together and handed me both.
I came into physical contact with both of them in the process. I would have had less physical contact with anyone, had I gone into the store.
That done, I decided to fill my tank before going into the grocery store. Normally, I go in to pay, and usually pick up some cheap energy drinks for the cooler in the van in the process.
I paid at the pump, instead.
I’ve never had a problem there before, either. At least not from the staff. I just didn’t have the energy to find out if things had changed.
At the grocery store, nothing had changed. I did wear the shield. It keeps hitting my chest and shoulders as I move around and, having put it on in the van, the wind almost blew it off as I walked to the store. It was when I coughed that the sense of irony hit me again. My chronic cough is what wearing a mask exacerbates. Usually, I cough into my sleeve or shoulder, never my hand but with the shield on, I coughed into my hand before I even realized what I was doing.
As I was finishing up with my groceries, I made a point of telling the cashier how much I appreciated that they honoured medical exemptions. Like the woman I spoke to on the phone, she sounded surprised that anyone wouldn’t. I told her about the pharmacy, that the hardware store next door had kicked me out the previous week, and of the pharmacy in my mother’s town kicking me out. She could hardly believe it. The mandate has exemptions, and everyone is supposed to honour them. She was so surprised by the places I’d mentioned.
By the time I got home, I was pretty drained. It didn’t help when I was on my personal Facebook page. A friend of mine, who works at the gas station where I paid at the pump instead of going in, had posted about people not wearing masks. She talked about people being a**holes about it and giving her a hard time, and if that were the only point, I would have been completely in agreement with her. Staff are supposed to tell people about the mandate, and shouldn’t be hassled for it. Instead, she started attacking people for not wearing masks, and making digs about people buying cigarettes but not being willing to wear a mask for 5 minutes. When I tried to point out medical exemptions can include all sorts of things, it basically came down to, if she had to wear a mask, everyone else should, too. The next thing I knew, I was the subject of an onslaught of personal attacks. I actually had to get off the computer soon after and haven’t been back to Facebook since, but it was bad enough that a mutual friend messaged me privately, telling me how sorry she was to see me being bullied so badly. I’m loathe to log on again, but she did try to defend me, which means she was probably targeted, too, so I would want to come to her defense.
I have long been against the covering of faces in general (other than the obvious exceptions, like protecting your face from the weather), whether it be protestors wearing masks, or burkas or whatever. One of the biggest reasons is psychological. Hiding our faces dehumanizes us, even if only subconsciously. It creates a mental, as well as physical, barrier between people. And when we no longer see others as people, even the most gentle of people can become quite cruel, and believe themselves completely justified for it. With so many people hidden behind masks now, my observations have been verified, over and over, and the psychological damage is even worse than I’d originally believed.
How can we ever heal from this? Especially with so many people trying to convince everyone that masking should become permanent, so we should all just get used to it?
The “cure” is becoming so much worse than the disease.