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Coronavirus isn’t your excuse to be a jerk

It’s safe to say that life isn’t what it used to be. We are nearly six months into pandemic life, and while we all miss the ease of pre-coronavirus times, some people have begun to take it too far.

Remember when you could go to the supermarket or Disney World without having to wear a mask? So do these Manhattan men and this Florida father, all of whom were arrested after assaulting establishment employees who were attempting to make them wear proper face masks. In New York, it was a Trader Joe’s, and in Florida, it was Disney World, but no matter where you go, there always seem to be people who would prefer to break out their fists than put on a mask.

Remember when you could host a gathering of more than 10 people? TikTok celebrities Blake Gray and Bryce Hall took those memories and made them a reality in early August when they hosted two huge parties even after Los Angeles had passed numerous public health orders banning such events. Naturally, they were arrested and now face serious consequences in the forms of potential jail time and fines.

All of this might sound as though it’s just a couple of “covidiots” in major cities pulling crazy stunts in the midst of the pandemic. Unfortunately, stunts like these don’t just happen in New York or LA. 

A friend of mine was in the Oxford Walmart the first week of school when they came across an older man who was refusing to wear a mask — despite having been asked numerous times to do so by employees and fellow customers. When my friend asked the man to please put on his mask, the man proceeded to wipe his nose on my friend’s sleeve in retaliation.

Beating up security guards and grocery store employees. Throwing huge bashes in blatant disrespect of city ordinances. Using a stranger’s sleeve as a tissue because they asked you a question. None of these were acceptable behaviors before the pandemic, and they are surely not acceptable now.

But for some reason, some people are using the pandemic as an excuse to be utterly rude to everyone around them. 

Let me spell it out for you: coronavirus isn’t your excuse to be a jerk.

Perhaps these people think it is alright to pull these kinds of antics in public because they are having a bad day. After all, who doesn’t use a rough day as an excuse every once in a while? If you spilled your morning coffee all over yourself, showed up late to your class because of it and then found out there was a pop quiz you hadn’t studied for, those around you would generally let you off the hook for being sort of cranky.

What these people don’t realize is that their bad day is everyone’s bad day. It isn’t like they are the only people going through this pandemic. We are all suffering side-by-side, and everyone needs to realize that.

During this pandemic, even your good day could be someone else’s bad day. Being from Florida, I had the chance to visit Disney World this summer when it reopened to the public. Disney has pretty strict mask regulations that require all guests to wear masks unless they are eating, but they must be stationary and physically distanced while doing so. 

During my visit to Disney, my family and I were eating at a table far away from the crowds, following the rules by staying stationary while we had our masks off. Another family walked by, less than two feet away from us, with their masks dangling off one ear. They were eating and talking loudly, and though they were not facing us, my family and I were still worried afterwards because they had broken regulations.

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We are fine, by the way; none of us caught the coronavirus from that encounter. It was still worrying for the next two weeks though, especially since both my father and I have asthma. That family probably has no idea that they caused another group of people two weeks of worry — they were at Disney World after all — so why would they care?

They may not have known, and they might not have beaten up security guards or wiped their noses on my sleeve, but they broke the rules, and that was nearly as rude.

We all need to stop and reevaluate our priorities. Is wearing a couple of layers of fabric over your nose and mouth really so bad that you must stoop to rude and even criminal actions that you would never have done before the pandemic? 

If you’re going to be rude, at least stop using the pandemic as your excuse. After all, we’re all having bad days. That is not a good enough reason to be a jerk to everyone else.