As we enter our sixth month of sheltering-at-home, I’ve noticed a slight mindset change in my suburban neighborhood.
In April and May, whenever I’d encounter other people during my daily walks, I would always wave or say, “good morning,” and receive the same in return, often with a smile. If two of us were headed towards each other on the same sidewalk, one (usually me) would cross the street to keep a good distance between us. Sometimes that wasn’t possible because there were people on both sides, so I would walk in the middle of the street for a couple dozen yards. Yet, despite the circumstances, everyone seemed happy just to be outside their homes and breathing fresh air.
For the last few days, however, although we’ve had some absolutely beautiful, blue-sky mornings, those smiles have been gone and fewer people have made eye contact, and thus there’s been less neighborly waving.
In addition, many of them aren’t as quick to do the street-crossing thing. It’s almost as if they’re playing chicken. How close can they get before the other person veers off and clears the way? Or perhaps they’re setting an artificial mental goal: “I’m not budging until I get to that next driveway. Let’s see if the oncoming woman with the stroller will cross over before then.”
I don’t know what any of this indicates, other than we’re all simply fed up. The bad news is, it’s not going to get better anytime soon. I just hope it doesn’t devolve in the next month or two into people carrying lances and conducting sidewalk jousts.