The paranoia is thick!

So, the quarantine days drag on. I think if I lived in a larger town, the stifling feeling of all of this wouldn’t be so bad, but as it is, we have few options for shopping. We have a grocery store. We have a Dollar General. Truthfully, that’s about it. We had one of the last K Marts in the country, but that closed down this past winter. It’s just four people in a too-small house in a too-small town.

It’s spring — or what passes for spring in the Midwest, anyway. That usually includes a snowstorm or two. We got dumped on a couple weekends ago, and it has been frustrating to wait for warmer weather. In the Midwest, it is usually the norm that when a nice day arrives, it will be accompanied by gale force winds. A calm, nice day around here is a rarity.

This whole quarantine stuff has been a fascinating look into human psychology, I must say. I have observed my own reactions to having days on end of unstructured free time — the advantages, the pitfalls, the frustrations. I am a high school teacher, and I am in weekly contact with my students as much as possible. While I expected all of them to be enthusiastic that school has been canceled for the rest of the year, I have heard from several who say that they miss school and desperately want to go back. I feel a little torn, to be honest. I am finding the time to do things that I haven’t enjoyed in a while – keeping up with this blog, for example, and painting, and reading. However, I miss seeing my students and giving lessons in a classroom. I am frustrated that my students will miss out on an entire quarter’s worth of information. I am providing whatever instruction I can, but the number of students who have gone MIA now that school has been called off is growing by the week. On the plus side, My husband and I have discovered countless movies we have enjoyed — we take turns introducing each other to movies we consider “must see”), and we have stumbled across rather horrific shows such as Tiger King and The Wild and Wonderful World of the Whites of West Virginia. I think I watched both with my mouth open in amazement.

In my brief outings, which usually involve a run to the grocery store, I have noticed a subtle shift in the way humans interact with each other. Like my title says, the paranoia is thick. When I come down a store aisle where someone else is, they turn and look at you with a suspicious glance – something that would not have happened before. If anyone happens to cough because of whatever reason, there are actual stares and visible judgment. I watched a store clerk being asked to go home after a customer complained because she had allergies and was coughing a little. Yes, I understand that some of this paranoia is based on a real need for being careful, yet I am amazed that we have evolved into being paranoid and sometimes downright rude. I was talking with one of my students the other day – a girl who was adopted from China as a baby. She talked about visiting a Target in a nearby town and noticing people glancing at her and then moving away. I am not surprised, but like I said, all of this provdes a very interesting look into psychology and the breakdown of what used to be considered “Midwestern nice.”

Be safe, but remember to treat each other as human beings.

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