Censor sensor

LOOKING ASKANCE - Atty. Joseph Gonzales (The Freeman) - August 9, 2020 - 12:00am

Nowadays, we check out a slew of other things when encountering strangers. Before, we used to check how good looking they were, or how smart the outfit looked. Or maybe, for the more discriminating (or discriminatory), we checked out the dye job. Or the shoes, scuffed or polished. Or the bag, eco-friendly or luxury. Or the belt, branded, or completely absent.

These days with the pandemic some strange survivalist instinct drummed deep into our consciousness has transmuted our reflexes, and our checking out process has morphed into another thing entirely.

We see other people, and if they seem like they’re in a group, we automatically count. “Hey, they’re more than five! That’s not allowed by IATF rules! We’re under MECQ/ECQ/BBQ status. They’re flouting the rules! It’s an outrage!”

That’s check 1, although that’s not too common, since recently, people really have been trying hard to stay away from each other. I’ve developed great instincts for stepping out of the way when I see people coming. I begin sidling over to the far side where I can least come into contact with oncoming foot traffic once I see them coming, my paranoia having developed pretty healthily these past months.

After check 1 though, one’s eyes begin separating the group into spaces and measuring if they’re observing the two-meter distancing rules. When people are too close (like this pair of lovebirds I saw cooing on a park bench), Check 2 makes us want to come in with axes and start chopping away to make sure the distancing rules are observed.

Check 3 – We look at the face, not to exclaim in wonder at the aquiline nose or the nose job, but to note the presence or absence of the mask. We divine what kind of mask it is, whether heavy duty N95, surgical, designer-ethnic, or simply a bandana tied around the nose, and respond accordingly (an entrepreneurial opportunity if ever I saw one).

Check 3.1 – Given the recent advisory on masks with valves, we ponder how the mask-wearer is really just spewing his toxicity through his valve even as he is protected from us, and so we also glance at the mouthpart to eliminate that possibility.

Check 3.2 - The Palace spokesman has pronounced that soon, we will be required to wear face shields as well (the better to see our eyes rolling with, I guess). Include this in the check-out protocol when needed.

Check 3.3 – Is the mask is being worn properly? We ventilate when we notice that the nose or mouth part is uncovered, and we begin calibrating the response accordingly. Smile and whisper, or frown and shout? Depends on the mood, I guess. Or how big the body of the unmasked idiot is. If he looks like a meanie, we end up just stalking away in disgust, feeling really inutile.

This situation is probably so much better than what we could find ourselves in some parts of America, though. At least we don’t end up running into irrational Americans who have imbibed too well their individual libertarian classes, and now think they can’t be made to do anything because it’s their constitutional right to protest. We would then be flung headlong into arguments with Karen about how she should wear a mask, or else.

As we head deeper into a lockdown with no end in sight, we are developing some really strange skillsets. I already know by the way that a person’s breathing in the elevator that he might have a cold. I now know how to scan contact tracing apps and QR codes, and am doing really great in answering temperature questions depending on the hour of the day. Pretty soon, what will we be cursed with?

I hope we get a newly-ingrained sense of detecting nonsense. Especially from our COVID decision makers. That might bode well for the survival of our species.

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