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Collage of Compliance, Part 3
Messaging the Flight Desk
Part 2 of Collage of Compliance can be found Here
Perhaps the most interesting question of the entire Covid catastrophe is why most people hopped on board with the narrative, while others held out. The holdouts are interesting to me, because they "seem" to be some type of minority. They've crossed lines of race, sex, religion, citizenship, social class, education, jab status and political affiliation in dizzying ways. One deeply Catholic woman in Seattle claimed that she prayed to God and had an epiphany to not take the shot. All the while her priest was saying that the jab was the Godly thing to do and people were lining up in droves at the church. Dr. Malone who was an inventor of the mRNA technology started looking into it on his farm. Silicon Valley investor Steve Kirsch looked into it after being told of many deaths. A lot of doctors, always pro vaccine before, came forward. A large swalth of working class salt of the Earth types knew it was bad news right away, but many felt they had no choice. Most 85 year olds couldn't make their appointment fast enough, while a few said not for me, ever. To jab or not to jab crisscrossed across the landscape in dizzying ways, pitting friend against friend, brother against brother and mother against children.
I can only find one that shared a prior common thread. The long maligned "anti-vaxxers," that misinformed fringe minority, they stayed on point the whole time. Some other prior "conspiracy theorists" crossed over, but a fair number on point about government corruption or the 9/11 narrative being not right, they dropped the ball. They trusted their doctor and there was no going back.
But the psychologist in me has always been curious if there's some deeper thread, perhaps buried in childhood, that explains it. BFF number 3 inadvertantly summarized one thing in June of 2020 as we sat drinking in her St. Louis house.
"When I went to Ghana for the Peace Corps, yeah, I needed a bunch of vaccines." She laughed. "For yellow fever, and a new tetanus vaccine. I think there were a few others in there. But yeah. I was fine. I mean they were looking out for my health." She laughed again. "I don't think the government is trying to kill me or any of that crazy shit."
That is where me and her differ. I am not sure if the government is trying to kill me, but through a confluence of corruption, greed, self interest, perverse incentives and lies, I in no way trust that they are looking out for my self interest. That is my responsibility.
BFF 3 has long presented as the social moderate to BFF 2, but that's really a misnomer. To keep a trinity of women long term friends, the pendulum has to swing back and forth a lot over the years. If it doesn't, of course, two gang up and outcast the third.
Over the years I've tended to understand BFF 2 on certain racial and working class background issues that I think BFF 3 has a blind spot to. She is white and from an upper middle class family, with her father a banker and her mother a university professor. We all met at college within a few weeks of each other. I suspect in BFF 3s family she is considered the slouch of their three children, what with her microbiologist sister (she studies vaccines, and unfriended me many years ago over my views) and executive brother. BFF 3 works the flight desk at Delta Airlines currently. She's also worked the skylounge and as a flight attendant, and for a bunch of charities.
She is liberal of course, but politics don't seem to define her. They usually don't in her position she has to like and be open and understanding of everyone. When my family visited her in St Louis in 2020, a conversation ensued about political preferences. My mother stated bluntly that she'd voted for Trump and planned to do so again.
"Uh oh!" BFF 3 chided us, then made light of it. She didn't kick us out of the house or start on a long harshly worded political debate. She didn't unfriend anyone like BFF 2 did when my brother stated the same thing on Facebook.
She never told me she took the jab, but I practically begged her not to tell me. I sometimes think I kept Facebook just so I could lurk on all of my friends with the proud "I just got my Covid vaccine!" profile pictures to track how they are doing. There were close to 30 of those on my friends list. It seemed like virtually everyone in my more liberal California circles proudly virtue signalled, while the Ohio friends were more on the fence. Not a single Thai person on my friends list did this, and I can only remember one person from the broader international community who did so. I made a mental note of their known jab status and check in every several months.
Some complained about feeling really wiped out, especially after the second conjab. Quite a few, like BFF 2, have lost parents. The jab status of their parents is not known to me, but if they were onboard with the program enough to proudly post their confidential medical information to the world, then I have to assume that their mother and father, being in more at risk age groups, likely took the shot also. One high school classmate had both her father and mother die within a span of six months in 2021. After another Ohio friend's father died, her mother had to be placed in a nursing home due to dementia and other health issues. Most of my peer group has parents in their 60's and 70's.
One friend in Texas posted that I just got my Covid Vaccine profile picture as his last Facebook update in late April of 2021. About a week later his wife asked for prayers as he had gone into the hospital again. We had visited the two of them some years before and they had graciously hosted us at their home in Richmond for four days. I knew that he, a heavy smoker who worked at a nuclear power plant, had a spot on his lung. He'd needed lots of supplemental oxygen and other therapies and stayed at the hospital for weeks at a time. She'd messaged with me a lot in 2018 following the death of my husband, perhaps anticipating the death of hers.
Despite this by early 2021 he seemed to be on the mend. My Texas friend proudly posted that her husband had experienced the longest time out of the hospital since his diagnosis shortly before he posted his conjab profile picture. I have to assume that he was, if not in good health, at least in stable condition to get the jab.
My friends in Texas went dark for awhile. In early June the wife finally posted an update "Thanks for all the prayers, but my husband passed on May 21." It had been three weeks after his Covid vaccine profile picture and two weeks since his hospitalization. I knew it was a sensitive issue but I had to ask her about it. I messaged her wondering if she thought the jab had anything to do with his death.
It took her three months to respond to my message. "Yes I think it did." She told me finally. He had pre existing conditions so it was easy to sweep his death under other health issues. But to me the jab should be recorded in sickness and in health. Media that fell over themselves to announce their jab status to the world were quick to whistle past the graveyard when someone died, in no way noting their jab status, unless of course it was unvaxxed. One media article claimed an anti-vaxxer died, but then noted that this same person had felt forced to get the jab a week before for a coaching position. Critical thinking skills were down to zero in journalism.
By late last year I was on a crusade to Keep Private Medical Information Private Again. I didn't want to know anyone's jab status anymore, and told BFF 3 as much. She has been in consistent contact with me on Facebook messenger and our conversations go in depth. We never talk about the conjab, other than her asking me rhetorically, regarding my husband's visa and getting back to the USA, "Is this the hill you're willing to die on?". Yes. Yes I am. I'm not sure what you have control of if not what goes into your body. She knows my feelings about these things and I know hers. I assumed she would take the jab, as I knew there was a lot of pressure on airline employees to do so, and Delta had this health insurance mandate that raised premiums in the unvaxxed. Despite this I held out hope that she'd seen my side of things. She certainly never posted an I just got jabbed photo. There was no vitriolic stance against anyone. Her Facebook posts remained obtuse and inane.
But a recent text message exchange led me to the sad conclusion that she had almost certainly folded to the pressure at some point. The conversation oddly started with me asking her about facemasks. To state this simply, I cannot wear one, covering my nose, for virtually any length of time.
I wanted to get a visual of how facemask rules were being enforced in her airport. The fact that this is a useless symbol of submission is one thing. I had checked flights back to the USA, though I'm far from booked. The facemask rule is a huge barrier to me and I'm praying that it finally gets dropped on April 18. American Airlines said I would have to call in advance for an accomodation, but even if approved that still leaves a maze of compliance checkpoints. So I wanted to know how things were being handled. Was anyone paying attention to this stupid rule anymore? I can't wear one covering my nose for more than the length of time that I can hold my breath.
"Well do you have a medical exemption?" She questioned me. No, I messaged back, but I might be able to get one, presumably through telemedicine, as going into a medical center where I'm required to wear a facemask to get an exemption from wearing a facemask is not going to work for me. I reiterated my position, which she knew, as she did read my previous writing. She still seemed amazed.
"So you really haven't worn a facemask covering your nose this entire time? How did you get to Thailand? What airline was this? Didn't they require it?"
Her incredulous response was depressing as hell to me. Obviously they were still enforcing the Satanic Symbol of Submission pretty hard in her neck of the woods.
"They only did charter flights at the time." I messaged back. "I can't remember the airline but the layover was in Seoul. Nobody bothered me but both flights were practically empty. I did wear a facemask under my nose for checkpoints. Heck, the doctor who did my medical checks at the quarantine hotel wore the facemask under HIS nose. My worst experience of being required to wear a facemask was on Delta." Perhaps they were enforcing this thing harder at her company than others. The facemask rule was particularly galling on long international flights. Even if you made the case that face masks work perfectly against viral transmission (which they don't) and that wearing one has no downsides (which it does), you would only achieve this elusive protection if you absolutely never took it off, even to eat or drink, during the entirety of a 12 to 14 hour flight. That sounds uncomfortable even for the truest of believers of this talisman. By the time the whole travel marathon is over, counting airport time and a minimum of one guaranteed layover, I'm looking at at least a full 24 hours of hurry up and wait.
"I really think you need anti anxiety medicine." She messaged back. This was the most galling answer imaginable. Sure, just take a chill pill. I'd explained the trauma based hyperventilating I experienced in a facemask to her. I was quite sure that it related to my face being held against a pillow while I was raped, to the point that I passed out and woke up in a dark room tied up with duct tape over my mouth. It wasn't something I felt like becoming retraumatized by, least of all for a pointless compliance ritual.
"That's not going to work for me." I messaged back. Wouldn't a prescription for such a thing also require me to go into a medical center wearing a facemask? My lack of ability to wear a facemask has me starting to feel like I would need a backwater veterinarian to sew up my gunshot wound like they show in old movies (note to self: don't get shot).
"Don't be judging people who need scripts!" She commented back. I didn't think I was. She then went into a diatribe about how the pandemic has everyone close to the breaking point, and she lamented working for so many low income charities for peanuts in the past. She hadn't been able to get the healthcare that she needed because she had no insurance. "Healthcare is a human right." She messaged back.
"It isn't if you don't wear a facemask." I quipped back. I'd shelved plans to get fertility tested and possible treatments due to the facemask rule. She sent me a link she found on Google about facemask exemptions and wished me good luck.
I pondered our conversation that afternoon. She hadn't told me that she'd been jabbed, yet she had. They'd gotten her with Delta's health insurance mandate. That had been her price.
The funny thing about this is, even two years ago BFF 3 was boasting about her robust health. She has always been a little bit fat. Over the years it's ranged from pleasantly plump to perhaps more obese levels of BMI, but having known her for close to 25 years, I suspect that her weight is something that she always will struggle with.
Her weight ballooned during the lockdown period, when she was furloughed from Delta Airlines for lack of work. Despite this she told me her blood markers were all great: she was neither diabetic nor prediabetic and her numbers were all within a healthy, normal range. I saw no prescription bottles anywhere in her house, which are an ubiquitous feature in the American landscape. What had changed in the past few years that made her feel that access to doctors was such a compelling need?
I noticed then that she had been posting a few things about menopause on Facebook, exactly as BFF 2 has also done. They're both in their early forties. What was going on inside their bodies?
There was something more sinister embedded in our conversation related to facemasks. I'd asked her what exemptions there were to a pointless compliance ritual and she had instead directed me to psychiatry medicine. The narrative was being steered away from individual accomodations and more towards calling people crazy who requested them. So much for flying the friendly skies.
BFF 3 and BFF 2 are supposed to be meeting in person again soon. I think this is great but I do wonder what they'll say if and when the conversation turns to me. My feeling is that I might be the odd man out this time.