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Life in Rural Northwest Ohio: Defiant Anti-Maskers

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Earlier today, my wife and I, along with our daughter, went to the medical clinic in Bryan to get our annual flu shots. In, out, done. We later got drinks at McDonald’s and sandwiches at Arbys and then took a short drive down the country roads where my Hungarian grandparents lived and died almost sixty years ago. Just beyond the farm runs Beaver Creek, swollen over its banks from several days of rain. A bit farther down the road, we saw a bald eagle sitting in a tree. We stopped, rolled down our windows, and watched bluejays, annoyed at the bald eagle’s presence, divebombing him. Nature — a wonderful distraction from a nation that seems to be on the precipice of lunacy, financial collapse, and civil war.

The bald eagle moved on, tired of the blue jays disrupting his afternoon siesta. Polly put the car in gear and pointed it towards home, five miles away. She drove slowly, allowing the both of us to survey what was new in our neighborhood. Not much. A pool closed for winter. A new roof here, new siding there. Flooded farm fields, with soybeans and corn ready to be harvested. Life moves slowly in the country. We like it this way.

Our conversation turned to our visit to the medical clinic — a place I have been going to for fifty-plus years. The clinic has a strict mask policy. No mask, no treatment. Polly told me of a new sign at the check-in counter, a list of behaviors that will NOT be tolerated. No doubt, this list resulted from anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers being outraged over Parkview’s mask mandate. Less than half of locals are vaccinated, and non-mask-wearers far outnumber people who care about their neighbors in places such as Walmart, Meijer, Menard’s, or Chief. Only local medical facilities require masks.

In the corner of the waiting room was a Trump supporter — a defiant anti-masker. He was wearing a red, white, and blue flag print mask with a statement about FREEDOM printed on the front. I say “wearing,” but only in the loosest sense of the word. His mask was pulled down, not only below his nose and mouth, but below his chin. Yep, he was a “patriotic” American who didn’t give a rat’s ass about anyone or anything except his Trump-inspired FREEDOM. He knew he had his dick (and morality) hanging out for everyone to see. His face dared his mask-wearing neighbors to say anything. Hell, in rural northwest Ohio, this “patriot” may have been carrying a concealed weapon. I said nothing, but I wondered how long it would be before his FREEDOM delivered his aged, decrepit body to the front door of the ER across the street. Then this “patriot” will wish he had done differently.

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Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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12 Comments

  1. Avatar
    BJW

    I mean, haven’t any GOP politicians realized that the people most likely to die VOTE REPUBLICAN?

    When I bike ride or go on a drive, maybe to medical appointments, I can’t feel horrible anymore. I know there are too many people who shouldn’t die who will, but I can’t fix them. The ones I know I am pretty fond of, so losing them would be horrible. If any were teenagers I’d help them get vaccinated. As it is, it sucks. Glad you all got out though. I argued with one of those people who, even though is suspicious of the vaccine, wears MASKS. And she agreed people who go into places not wearing masks is horrible. She masked around me so that’s okay. But this 21st century is turning out not to be too hopeful for the US.

  2. Avatar
    clubschadenfreude

    didn’t know you had a Hungarian ancestry. All my great grandparents on my mom’s side were from the old country.

    Across the border from you, in western PA where I grew up, it’s pretty much the same. I only go back to visit my folks. Such a nest of ignorance, selfishness and bigotry.

  3. Avatar
    TW

    “ Then this “patriot” will wish he had done differently.”… I doubt it Bruce. He’ll go to his grave as defiantly and stubbornly as he lived and figuring it was just time for the “good Lord” to call him home away from the cesspool of humanity.

  4. Avatar
    Troy

    I find it interesting how anti-vaccine sentiment is like a miasma that ensnares even intelligent people. All of my in-laws have fallen for it. One bit of craziness, according to “the news” (via crazy in-laws) 4 out of 5 children have heart problems after getting vaccinated(!) Talking to a recent contractor during an estimate he told me that he knew 2 people who died the day after getting vaccinated from heart attacks. I thought it was an interesting example of how people untangle the tapestry of truth with a bit of hysteria and an undercurrent of obstinance. A person in the community dies, hysterics ensue and if the person was vaccinated, “it must be the vaccine”, then anecdotes spread unproven in the community. In reality, it’s just a poke and your arm might hurt a couple of days. And while the red hat crowd under-estimates the risk, I also think the liberal crowd over-estimates it as well. Obviously, get vaccinated because it has very little downside risk and it helps stop spread as well as taxing the health care system, but it isn’t going to decimate the red hatters.

    • Avatar
      BJW

      Maybe it won’t decimate the red hatters. But at the same time, the base of the Republican party are largely against getting vaccinated. Nearly 700,000 people have died, but now experts are calling it the pandemic of the unvaccinated. Most of the people in the ICU with covid are unvaccinated. Even if people don’t die, getting long covid can ruin your life.

  5. Avatar
    Barbara L Jackson

    OK, let’s get back to the basics. A virus is a piece of DNA or RNA (you can look up this and all other things in this comment on wikipedia) that infects some of your cells and forces those cells to make copies of itself so it can continue infecting you and other people. The covid-19 virus moves from person to person thru the air. Somewhere around 30 percent of people who get the virus will not have symptoms or know they have the virus, but can pass it on to other people. THIS IS WHY MASKS ARE IMPORTANT. This is something in biology not politics. The virus is not listening to our politics. I DO NOT KNOW HOW TO CONVINCE PEOPLE OF THIS.

    Getting a vaccine is important because it gives your body part of the virus in a way your body (immune system) will know it is an enemy and figure out how to kill it. This way if you get it will not mess up your body as much because your body knows it is an enemy and tries to kill it. If you do covid-19 after vaccination you will have a mild enough case you will not need to be admitted to the hospital. THIS IS WHY THE VACCINE IS IMPORTANT. Other people have commented for this article about there being little downside to getting vaccinated. I DO NOT KNOW HOW TO CONVINCE PEOPLE OF THIS.

    This hits me very hard emotionally because I was a computer programmer for the Colorado Department of Health when AIDS was known about but at that time there was very little medical help for people. I dealt with AIDS data. It hurts me emotionally to see so many people suffering and dying because people cannot separate biology and politics.

    Any virus is a biological organism and is certainly not listening to human politics.

    I have masks in my cell phone case and in my purse at all times so I cannot forget to bring a mask. I have gotten 2 vaccine shots.

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Bruce Gerencser