A couple of weeks ago, Wednesday afternoon, Perlinda and I were downtown delivering newspapers We parked in the yellow zone in front of the old Basin Block Café across from Basin Park. We turned off the engine, undid our seatbelts, assessed where we were, what we were doing and why, and got out to stack our piles so we could walk to the boxes and racks in the neighborhood.

A man and woman were on the sidewalk about four feet apart, the woman in front, and they were having a private conversation that due to extemporaneous social distancing kind of included us. We weren’t willfully eavesdropping. But this is what we heard!

She: “You didn’t need to throw the keys at me.” He: “I didn’t throw the keys at you. I threw them at your feet.”

It was all we could do to not drop all 80 papers and 20 Fun Guides (each) right there in the gutter and fall on them laughing.

Why these remarks amused us wasn’t anticipated, right? But it struck us as hilarious because it was so unlikely, so personal and so out there.

We wondered which was worse, having keys thrown at you or at your feet? Both send a strong message.

When we got back to the office, we put our feet up and talked about how people are running out of nice in no time at all these days. It’s different than it was before masks became an issue, before righteousness became a self-anointing attribute instead of a self-serving irritation.

When you were little and your mother said, “Put your boots on before you walk to school in the snow,” did you say, “Why?”

No. You put your boots on so your socks and feet would stay dry. You put your boots on because if you didn’t you would be told again to put your boots on, only this time with parental emphasis. Boots were a pain to put on and take off. They were hot and rubber. They also kept us from catching colds.

Whether you were a rebel or not, you knew that walking in the snow without boots on was plumb dumb. Plum dumb? You just didn’t do it.

Same with today’s masks, pretty much. People who come into our office always have a mask on, even the delivery guys. Whether they hate it or not, they do it. They know we’re not going to correct them, hassle them or make them feel like an enemy, they simply do it out of respect. Or their company policy.

When someone walks in here, all three of us put a mask on. We don’t let anyone get too close, we give them a pen to keep if they didn’t bring one and want to write a check, and we wash our hands when they leave whether we touched them or not. We deal with it without getting all twisted up, stopping our lives or invading theirs.

We keep our immune systems up best we know how and we don’t kill spiders.

But, honestly, we almost inhaled our masks cackling at, “I didn’t throw them at you, I threw them at your feet.” It was the funniest thing we heard all week until a shopkeeper said there were merchants who closed only on weekends.

“Are the weekend people more poisonous?” she asked.

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