Walk this way


As we plunge headlong toward the apocalypse, I’ve had lots of time to reflect.

One thing I’ve been thinking about is rules and regulations, and lately, I’ve had no shortage of new ones to ponder.

One silver lining is the governor’s new ban on reusable cloth shopping bags. As it turns out, those of us who said that these germ-infested receptacles were carrying more than just almond milk and kale were right all along!

The only thing better than being able to get a plastic bag at Farmland again is watching the pained expressions on the faces of woke women at the Stop & Shop self-checkout as they are forced to load their avocados and palm oil butter into paper bags.

The six-feet figure for social distancing struck me as a little arbitrary from the beginning, but I assumed that it was a compromise between the protective and the practical. While some proximity is necessary for human interaction, we don’t need to be on top of each other.

Now, people are being publicly shamed for walking around the Lake in pairs or in small groups. Clearly, most people assumed that the six-foot rule mainly applied while indoors. Haven’t we always been told that the reason colds and flu virtually disappear in the warmer weather is because people are outside more and spending less time cooped-up together indoors?

I know. This is “different.”

We’ve closed the playgrounds, basketball courts, soccer fields, hockey rinks, tennis courts and the gyms. All spectator sports are canceled indefinitely. You can’t go to work. You can’t go to school. You can’t go to church. Only essential shopping trips are allowed.

And now, stressed-out, stir-crazy residents are being told they have to walk six feet apart outdoors. And furthermore, too many of you are walking around the Lake, period.

That’s not social distancing, people!!

One resident actually wanted the Town Council to enact a rule to permit walking the Lake in one direction only — to minimize any chance of close encounters with those walking in the opposite direction. To her credit, she didn’t stipulate whether the mandated direction should be clockwise or counter-clockwise. She’s not an authoritarian, after all.

What’s next? Are were going to have the police stop cars with more than one occupant? That’s not social distancing either.

This public shaming of Lake-walkers exposes a risk – dare I say it — beyond just the virus. We are now seeing how public health and safety can be invoked to justify limitations on all kinds of freedoms, including speech.

You’re not allowed to question any of the innumerable rules that have been put into effect in the last few weeks. If you do, you will be informed in no uncertain terms that such talk – even entertaining a fleeting skeptical notion – places lives in danger and will not be tolerated.

You might even be shunned — if you’re lucky.

[This column originally appeared in the April 2, 2020 Wakefield Daily Item.]

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