Most peculiar, Mama

The phone rang. My grocery delivery was here. I grabbed my giant wheelbarrow and rolled it out to the sidewalk. Keeping a safe "social distance" — there's a pandemic, you may have heard — I stood on the grass, as the delivery woman started filling my wheelbarrow with groceries from the back of her car.

"Have you been to any of the protests?" she asked me. I was surprised. I'd never seen this woman before, and usually if there's any talk at all when the deliveries come, it's about the weather.

"Yeah," I said. "I went to a march on the second day, but that's it." What I didn't say, because she was talking again, is that the march I attended was inspiring, but after I'd left and most of the crowd had left, it turned ugly.

"Last night was really beautiful," she had already said. "There were hundreds of people holding glowsticks in the dark. No police at all that I could see, which is a welcome improvement. Then we had eight minutes and forty-six seconds of absolute silence." She was wearing a mask but you could hear a smile in her voice, as she continued gently unloading my dog food and milk and frozen fish sticks.

"The cops are leaving the protests alone now?" I asked.

"They're around. People said that some squad cars were parked a few blocks away, just in case they decided to make trouble — 'they' being the cops."

My wheelbarrow was full, the back of her car was empty, so she said thanks, and I said thanks.

"Hey," I said. "I have to ask, do you talk about the protests at every delivery you make?"

"God no, I never say much of anything. It's not smart to talk politics, because you say the wrong thing to the wrong people and they'll take back their tips."

"Well, how did you know I wouldn't do that? Get all huffy and 'White Lives Matter' and all that crap." There's a Trump 2020 sign on the lawn across the street, and I pointed at it.

She pointed at my face, and raised her eyebrows, which was all I could see of her face. I still didn’t understand. "You're wearing a mask," she said, and then she waved, got into her car, and drove away.

I wheeled my groceries into the house, connecting the dots as I walked. She didn't know me from Adam, but she knew I'm not a Republican … because a mask was on my face.

That's nuts, but what's even nuttier is that her assumption makes sense. Most Republicans are skeptical of science, and don't seem to think the coronavirus is real, so most Republicans don't wear masks. Me wearing a mask made it a likely gamble that I'm not off my rocker.

"Nobody told me there'd be days like these. Strange days indeed ...
      —John Lennon



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