A New Form of Privilege

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There are four adults in my home. We have five vehicles. 

Late Wednesday night, I was driving home, sitting at a stoplight, and a bus came through the intersection. The header on the front of the bus said: “Essential Travel Only.” 

On the bus, there was only one passenger. He sat four rows from the back, hood up, slouched, no mask. He looked young, probably in his early 20s. Why did he take the bus? Is he not worried about touching all those public surfaces? Does he even know about the extent of the coronavirus? Where is he going or coming from? 

Earlier the same night, I walked to DQ. It was the first 80-degree day of the year here in Minnesota, and the heat had me craving a blizzard. Walking up to the building, I saw a huge line of families from around the neighborhood that had the same idea as me. A line that usually would have been no more than 40 feet long was stretched the length of the block to allow for six feet or more between each family.

As I approached, I reached into my bag and pulled out my face mask. Then I tied it around my face. I took my place at the end of the line and kept my distance from the other customers. 

After a moment of standing there, I realized I was the only one wearing a mask. The only one with protection. Most of the families around me were members of the community; an old meatpacking town with a tradition of welcoming blue-collar, working-class families. 

Their children peered around their parents’ shoulders to stare at me, both confused and a little curious. Everyone gave me second glances. I tried to smile, but I’m sure my mask hid the friendly grin on my face. All they saw was the partial pinch at the edge of my eyes. Read more here…

Origin: Laurie Ruettimann