The other day, I was at the grocery story standing in line to check out. A fellow behind me started getting chatty. As I turned to reply, I wasn't overly thrilled about it, but made the best of the situation. In fairness, he was trying to be nice and even complimentary, but the direction things were going just wasn't for me, as you'll see.
I mean, yes, he did start out nice, saying how good it was that I was wearing a mask indoors, adding that it was necessary inside though not outside because, after all, you can't get COVID outdoors. Much as I wasn't anxious to join the conversation, I thought this wasn't something to let slide, so -- as politely as I could -- I said, well, no, that wasn't true. He thought about this a moment, and then politely nodded, "Yes, you're probably right, if you're close enough."
I nodded in return, and then turned back. I figured that was the end of the conversation -- but no. He passed along another compliment. "I see you're wearing one of those N95 masks. They're the best. Good for you." I agreed with him that, yes, they are the best...though added that, no, this wasn't an N95. It was a KN95. (Those look completely different and have totally different straps.) "Oh, yes, right." he replied.
It struck me that the conversation wasn't going to end any time soon, and I just didn't want to continue this one, and so began looking around to see if another line was shorter, figuring if I moved there it was seem more polite, having a good reason. And happily, yes, there was a shorter line, so off I went. Mind you, I'd have gone even if the line was twice as long.
By the way, just to let you know that I wasn't being overly rude and that my desire to leave the line was without cause. When I said above that the direction of the conversation wasn't going well, it wasn't because of the incorrect compliments he was giving me about COVID mask safety -- it came early the moment I turned around. It's because, for all these lovely, if incorrect compliments...he wasn't wearing a mask.
I just knew the conversation wasn't for me. Sometimes you just can't social distance far enough...
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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