I'd like to preface this by saying that as an immunocompromised individual, I do take social distancing seriously and always maintain a minimum distance of at least six feet whenever my friends stop by to sit in my front lawn and catch up. No one has ever said anything to us during the handful of times we did this — me sitting on my porch and my friends sitting in chairs or towels scattered throughout my lawn.
As 9 o'clock rolled around two weeks ago me and my best friend, who has also been quarantining in her home, sat on my lawn, in our respective locations just carrying out as we normally have been, when one of my neighbors walked by and said, "That does not look like six feet to me."
My friend and I laughed it off at the moment, ignoring her harsh and condescending tone while assuring her that we were six feet apart and wishing her a good night.
Something stuck with me about that interaction throughout the week, I mentioned it to my parents who found her comment rude and uncalled for — originally I had agreed. But after thinking it over for a couple more days I settled on a new outlook entirely. Her words weren't spoken from a place of malice, rather they came from a place of concern for not only me and my family, but my friend's family, and all of the people that we could potentially come in contact with. And it leads me to think how amazing it is to have a society that cares so much about the safety of others, who is so concerned with the health and safety of strangers, that they would be helping to enforce social distancing.
We've all seen the video that circled social media at the beginning of March, just as stay at home orders were announced and quarantine started to become real, of people in New York screaming from their windows begging their neighbors to abide by social distancing. And though they may not have communicated their feelings in the best way, using some choice words, they expressed concern for their neighbors and the lives of the people they may encounter in the coming weeks.
When we come in contact with the condescending words of a neighbor or the sinking feeling when you walk down an empty street, see an empty park, or step onto an empty train platform, let's not think to ourselves, "this is horrible." Rather, let's marvel at the immense love that is being displayed by our society. A society that so loved the strangers they pass on the street, neighbors they occasionally share a "good morning" with, and the people they will never even meet, that they stopped what they were doing and joined the rest of the world in an amazing act of both love and unity, by doing one of the most simple things one can, but perhaps the hardest for many, by just staying home and doing nothing.
So, to the woman who told me, "that doesn't look like six feet to me," thank you, for showing such concern for others that you helped our community enforce social distancing. I ask that you continue...possibly using a nicer tone next time you do.