Woodn’t It Be Nice?

lumber 0620
Someday, I hope, these boards will be crawl space steps.

I think woodworking could be more hazardous for me than I was expecting. Sure, there’s the nail gun, which in my hands becomes an object of randomness — although at least I haven’t shot anyone with it (yet) as I understand a fellow makers’ space member did inadvertently.

But of course I am on my favorite Sunday topic, Maskless in Gunnison.

This is because Saturday is the one day I make any attempt to go places outside of shop errands, which are also feeling fraught. No matter where I go — and no matter now which day I go — it seems as though the county’s “Wearing is Caring” campaign is failing miserably.

The other day I was pleasantly surprised to note that everyone I encountered on the Post Office block was masked, and Paper Clip feels an especially safe place, with staff masked and the first thing to greet you is a wall of sanitizing products and disposable masks available for purchase.

I usually use my bank’s new walk-up window, where the teller 99 percent of the time has her face covered, but the walk-up window was busy so I went inside on Friday, where my teller only remembered to pull up her mask halfway through our transaction and the president (who does have his own, mostly enclosed office except for the open door) completely unconcerned about his maskless state.

People who are opposed to masks are busy making this a political statement, but I am wondering why I am not making a health statement back, other than the obvious point of bringing confrontation to the fore.

A hotel owner had a letter in the newspaper last week, carrying on about the government overreach with the county’s mask mandate. What I thought when I read her letter was, Well, if you aren’t taking mask-wearing seriously, perhaps you are not taking sanitation measures seriously, and while I have in the past recommended your hotel to people, I am now actively going to counsel that people not stay there.

Yesterday, Lynn and I were having our usual struggle of trying to figure out a restaurantless lunch that might be safe as we ruled out this place because of unmasked customers, that place because they don’t answer their phone, and another place because they had three differing sets of hours posted on their website.

Suddenly it all seemed so complicated that we defaulted to McDonald’s. Where every single employee and the manager were fully masked and cheerful. I told the young man who brought us our food to let the manager know that I really appreciated their effort and we would be back.

I also made it to the farmers’ market, open for its second Saturday. Almost everyone there was masked, except the market manager, whose mask was around her chin, and a couple of patrons who may have come in through the back with buffs around their necks that were apparently too difficult to pull up over their faces.

I wasn’t allowed past the market’s masked “guard” until I utilized their hand-washing station, and I followed the arrows, finding more to buy than I expected so early in the season. (I even scored some peas at 11:30!)

But woodworking . . . there I have decisions to make. I have an entire list of projects I would like to do, and given my ineptitude with the nail gun and other power tools, supervision seems a must.

However, the entire makers’ space has already shown itself to be a mask-free zone. And plans to limit the number of people in the building seem to have gone by the wayside as well. Although I’m very confused by the county’s current “blue” status and the intersection with state requirements. It may be that 25 people can be in any indoor space at one time, unless it’s a restaurant where capacity is 50 percent or 50 people, whichever is fewer.

So maybe several people could be in the shop at once, all but me unmasked. Then I have to ask myself: how badly do I want to be there?

Yesterday my teacher came to my house, because some of my projects are going to be easier to do on-site. He of course came with no mask and no apology for not wearing one (much like the plumber who came mid-week to maintain our boiler as well as look at my steam shower and say, “I’ve never seen anything like this before”).

Anticipating that my teacher would be unmasked, I opened several windows, put my mask on, and borrowed air sanitizer (citrus-scented Clorox) from work. But then I stood way too close to him as we moved around the house looking at various project points. And if he comes back on Wednesday, a possibility we discussed, he will have his nine-year-old daughter with him. So far every parent seems reluctant to put their kids in masks, even the parents who have no issue wearing masks themselves.

But it goes beyond the shop. To do wood projects, I must have wood, and so I go to one of two lumberyards. I don’t believe the other lumberyard is open on weekends, and on straight retail they are several dollars more per board. My lumberyard is currently giving me the same contractor’s rate they gave Dusty when he bought all the wood for our house.

But no one has been masked any time I go there, and yesterday I noticed a sign on the door: “Masks Optional.” That sign is so unnecessary that it’s clearly a political statement. And what it says to me is, “My civil liberties are more important than your health.”

These are the same people who wear shirts, pants and shoes into restaurants (because I’ve seen all of them in the Before Time). I don’t know if they wear their seatbelts, stop at red octagons and obey posted speed limits, but I’m going to assume they do some percentage of these things some percentage of the time.

Those are all government-mandated rules issued in the name of health, just like masks. I don’t understand why this one issue is the one to stake lives and livelihoods on. Or why it’s so difficult to extend this little courtesy to your fellow human beings. Wearing is caring — I sure wish more people recognized that.

It would let me go back to enjoying my woodworking, and it would be safer all around — as long as I don’t go near the nail gun.

I need to make a correction: I think I gave you daily virus totals for Oklahoma, not Tulsa, the other day. Yesterday the entire state of Oklahoma reported 330 new positives, making 450 the day before in Tulsa alone seem highly unlikely. Of the 330 cases, however, a full third of them were in Tulsa.

Oklahoma is listed as one of the five states where virus cases are increasing at the highest rate, although their seven-day average is slightly below the nation as a whole. And while I keep hearing that Florida is the new epicenter, Arizona’s caseload is currently 32 per 100,000, well ahead of Florida’s 14.


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