Joe’s Journal

Week 16: I don’t like

Ramblings from an old scribbler
Wed, 07/01/2020 - 7:00am

I don’t like wearing a mask.

When the summer sun is shining, I like the way it warms my face. When the gentle ocean breeze blows over the seaweed at Ocean Point, I love the unique smell that comes off the water.

The mask seems to, well, mask those pleasures.

But I wear one anyway.

Once upon a time, when I rode a motorcycle from the Midwest to the coast, I wore a helmet, but I didn’t like it very much. I liked the feeling of the wind in my hair. I also liked having hair, but that is another story.

But, after spending time as a police reporter, and going to the scene of many fatal accidents, some of them involving motorcycles, I understood what the combination of concrete pavement, speed and friction could do to the human head. I decided that wearing a helmet when riding a motorbike was a good idea.

So, I wore one, but I didn’t like it.

The same goes for seat belts in a car. They are annoying and rub your shoulder, especially when it is summertime, and you are on a long road trip.

Years ago, my eldest son was driving a brand new pickup truck down a city street. As he approached an intersection, he noted the light was green, so he gave it the gun.

At the same time, the driver of an old Buick 225 was thinking of something other than driving on a city street when she zipped into the same intersection. My son told me the first time he saw the big Buick was when his truck’s airbag deflated. He was unhurt, except for a sore shoulder from being restrained by the seat belt.

I wear a seat belt because the car emits an annoying beep, beep, beep, beep until you fasten it over your shoulder. When I get into a car, I am reminded of my eldest son and how lucky we were when he remembered to fasten the seat belt on his new pickup truck. So, I pull the seat belt over my shoulder and fasten it. But, I would rather not.

Once upon a time, in a faraway land, I found myself standing on yellow footprints painted on the floor of a large open building.

I had been drafted. Not having a father who could find and fund a doctor who was a specialist at discovering bone spurs, I found myself at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego.

For the next several months, I was yelled at, snarled at, and forced to do things that I thought were sort of interesting, but outside my normal routine.

As a city boy, I had never spent much time hunting and was unfamiliar with rifles, except for the war movies and cowboy flicks. They didn’t offer much instruction.

The Marine Corps drill instructors were happy to provide instruction, in their usual way, at the top of their lungs. Do it this way. Don’t do that, dummy. Over and over, I marched, memorized this and that, listened to lectures and exercised. Once, I was ordered to lay my belly in the California mud pretending to fire the heavy M-14 rifle while a sergeant with bad breath fogged my glasses as he yelled in my ear.

Then we marched to the rifle range and were handed real bullets and ordered to lie on our bellies and look downrange at a target.

Once again, the drill instructor coached me on the fine points of target shooting until I got the hang of it. Then we marched back to the barracks, stripped down our rifles, and cleaned them.

Several months later, when I found myself halfway around the world, I was glad for the careful instruction, even if it had been yelled in my ear by a sergeant whose bad breath fogged my glasses.

All the while, I reasoned that the Marine Corps was teaching me how to keep my spine attached to my backside.

So, I listened and learned.

When I think of these annoying practices, I suppose I could have objected, as they infringed on my Constitutional rights.

I mean, who gives the government the right to force me to do something I don’t like, like wearing a helmet or clicking on a seat belt on a hot summer day. I suppose I could even have told the government it had no right to make me stand in those yellow footprints and take the sergeant’s guff for months on end.

But, I didn’t object because, on reflection, they made sense.

As for the mask, I am old, infirm, and a primary COVID candidate. And I would hate to infect you. So, I wear a mask.