People Are Inscrutable

October 20th, 2021

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Every month, the school sends out a survey to see who wants the free breakfast and lunch provided by the district. I know my daughters don’t want the lunch option, but I check in with them about breakfast. 

“No way,” says Phoebe. “They eat gross things like donuts with mayonnaise.”

By which she means bagels and cream cheese.

It is endlessly fascinating that my daughters live in a world where they perceive other people as so wildly off their rockers as to eat things like donuts with mayonnaise slathered on top for breakfast. They find other people inscrutable, and don’t put anything past anyone.

I live in a family of such skeptics. I’m the only one who tends to give people the benefit of the doubt, and in these wildly divisive times, I have started to feel defeated. People I’ve always respected are quickly falling off my list as I discover they are The Unvaccinated. Recently, an old friend who I unfollowed on social media accused me of “censorship,” as if I am the deep state and he, the free press. 

But I am just a person who does not want to listen to any more rhetoric. 

My husband, for his part, doesn’t understand why I am still friends with people who are vocally unvaxxed. As an RN who works with compromised people in a hospital, there is no gray area for him. I recently showed him a TikTok of another nurse who had worked with COVID patients all through the pandemic, and was then promptly fired for refusing to get vaccinated. This video is being circulated by my unvaccinated friends as proof of the victimization of Their People. His response was, “Right. Because she’s a vector. Full stop.” 

The virus doesn’t care if you’re a hero. The virus doesn’t give you a free pass based on your past good deeds. The virus doesn’t have sympathy if it’s a complicated decision for you, with a lot of nuance to it. The virus doesn’t care if you equate the mandate to get vaccinated as an infringement on your bodily autonomy. The virus doesn’t care about your personal convictions or your imaginative paranoias about the government or various billionaires trying to infect you with propaganda or magnets. The virus looks for any inroad, and feeds on the misguided human desperation for agency as it calmly and quietly breaks through your defenses. 

This was an interesting article I read recently: The Unvaccinated May Not Be Who You Think. As a cat mom who has dealt with this very phenomenon many times, I particularly enjoyed this metaphor:

“Some of the unvaccinated are a bit like cats stuck in a tree. They’ve made bad decisions earlier and now may be frozen, part in fear, and unable to admit their initial hesitancy wasn’t a good idea, so they may come back with a version of how they are just doing ‘more research.’”

I am looking for that cat-in-a-tree panic in the eyes of the Unvaccinated in my orbit. But so far all I have found is a doubling down. I’ve mostly stopped engaging about it, and have simply accepted that this pandemic will not be over soon. As I recently read, it’s going to be an era, not an incident. 


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