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You can balance fun and safety

I have enjoyed the past couple weekends getting out and enjoying some fall festivals. I spent most of Saturday two weekends ago in Amsterdam and then split time Saturday between Butler and Drexel. It was my first taste of the festivities in the two Bates County cities while it was my third year in Drexel. I was very happy with the greetings The Tribune received in Amsterdam and Butler and I am very excited to see what the future holds.

I must admit a small bias for the Drexel Pumpkin Festival as for the third time I was allowed to follow my heart’s passion and judge the pumpkin pie contest. Again, it was a tough chore, but one which must be performed. I never would have guessed pumpkin pies could be so different and yet all be so good. I already have next year’s event circled on my calendar.

I know many are worried about public events in this active COVID-19 world and I think the fear reflected in smaller-than-usual crowds. But the positive part was the events were blessed with good weather, lots of sunshine and some self-initiated social distancing. There were some masks, but many folks went without, but you could see how people have adapted to many of the rules as the six-foot rule seemed to come naturally and handshakes and hugs were less frequent. Hopefully, it was proof you could have fun and be safe at the same time.

There are places masks are required, likely with good reasons like government meetings and some stores, which leads me to wonder: If you are visiting someone’s home and they request you to take off your shoes, how often would it be acceptable to just walk in with your shoes still in place? Never, right? If you were visiting a restaurant where smoking is prohibited, would you be shocked if a manager or employee came over and told you to put your cigarette out? You shouldn’t be. So then, why is it acceptable to go to a store which requires employees and customers to wear a mask and simply disregard the rule?

That was my thought pattern when I recently went to Walmart. Since the COVID-19 restrictions have been in place, I still go out in public, and I go to both businesses which require masking and those that don’t. When I am shopping for food, I tend to appreciate mask-required stores as I at least feel like there is an attempt at safety.

When I went into Walmart Sunday, I was absolutely stunned to see the number of people in the store without masks. There were whole families sans masks. There were parents with masks but their kids without. There were adults without masks and kids with. I stopped and asked the greeter if the rules about masking had changed. She said they had not. I then asked why they have so many people without masks. She simply shrugged.

I have since been told Walmart has a policy requiring masks, but managers and store employees are not allowed to say anything to anyone ignoring the rule. It makes sense employees shouldn’t be placed in a position of confronting noncompliant customers, but it makes equal sense that if you have a policy, it should be enforced.

To me, this has nothing to do with governmental control or even health policy for that matter. It is simply complying with someone’s policy. If you don’t want to wear a mask, shop someplace else. You don’t take your pets to stores which don’t allow them. You aren’t shocked when shirts and shoes are required or like I referenced earlier, no smoking policies.

I will admit I frequently forget my mask, but in almost every case I go back to my car and get one, especially if it is a store requiring their use. If you can’t abide by a store’s policy don’t go there. Many people, like me, are looking for safer surroundings and your failure to comply with stores’ policies doesn’t make you any more independent or make you any more important. It simply makes you inconsiderate. I have no remorse if that comment offends you.

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