We’re all tired. We’re wearing down, worn out from the stress of a public-health emergency, from the stress of fighting battles on every front for almost four years. But I saw the slightest shift today when I went out for one of my rare grocery-store visits.
Every day, the governor repeats the same song and dance. We’re New York tough. We’re smart. We’re strong. We’re loving. If we reopen the state too soon, he can promise those dropping virus infection numbers will spike up. He’ll say it again tomorrow.
I get it. He’s not repeating himself because he has nothing else to say. He’s repeating himself over and over to try to reach the thousands of people in the state who just don’t want to believe it. He’s reinforcing it through repetition. It’s an old communications technique that every good teacher knows.
Two weeks ago, not only were there people in our local Hannaford’s without masks, but there were employees who weren’t wearing them, either. The mandate was in place, but these were people who just didn’t want to do it. So they didn’t.
Today was different. Even though there are few cases of Covid in the rural Catskills, the people I saw were taking it very seriously, at long last. Everyone had a mask. People tried, mostly, to follow the one-way aisle directions to keep some space between each other. And every employee had a mask on, except one guy in, of course, the meat department. Seriously. But at least he wasn’t interacting with customers, which was what was happening the last time I was there.
Cuomo sounds hoarse from the effort of reinforcing the daily lesson. I bet he’s tired, too. And no doubt he’s sick to death of having to repeat himself.
But it seems that, at least in one stubborn, recalcitrant part of New York, it’s starting to make a difference. I suspect they are all catching on, like kids do, that if they want restrictions lifted, they’re going to have to pay attention to the rules.
Read more installments of Village Voices by Susan Barnett.