That time a 60s white woman berated me over social distancing in the checkout line

Checkout line at Sprouts.  I stood on the green social distancing circle while the woman ahead of me, white, 60s, put her things on the conveyor belt.  She turned to me, scowled, and swept her hand down dramatically, pointing at my feet.  I looked down: yes, I was on the green.  The problem was that she was not standing on hers.  I said nothing.

The clerk finished ringing her up, and she moved forward to the credit card station, so I moved up to the next circle.  Again she gesticulated at my feet, this time adding, "Stand back!"

"But the WHO says one meter for social distancing.  That's 39 inches.  Follow the science!"

She snarled, "I'm a f------ !@#$.  I don't need the science!"

"I caught the adjective but not the noun.  What are you again?"

"I'm a pharmacist!"

"And not just a pharmacist, but a f------ pharmacist!  You go with the CDC; I'll follow WHO.  Follow the science!"

"You're making me uncomfortable!"

I did not know if she was going to call for the manager or the police.  Instead, she berated the clerk.  "You need to enforce that!"

He smiled.  "Not my job."

"It is your job!"

They went through that do-loop a couple times, then she flounced off in a fit of angry self-regard.  "Flounced" is probably the wrong word.  Shambled?  Lumbered?

As the clerk was ringing me up, a smile played about his lips.  "You know what's funny?  You and I are way closer than six feet."  He was right: to use the credit card reader, the customer must move beyond the Plexiglas shield, standing about two feet from the clerk.  The man behind me in line laughed.

I was taught, lo, those many years ago, that science is a heuristic enterprise: hypothesis followed by experiment followed by adjustment to or abandonment of the hypothesis.  What did my teachers know?  Now it's a monolithic system that brooks no dissent.  The science of the great questions of our day is settled, a thoroughly domesticated servant, no adjustments wanted or needed.  In case of disagreements over the science, as that between the WHO and CDC over social distancing, we'll tell you which is orthodoxy and which is heresy.

Henry Percy is the nom de guerre of a writer in Arizona. He may be reached at saler.50d[at]gmail.com.

Checkout line at Sprouts.  I stood on the green social distancing circle while the woman ahead of me, white, 60s, put her things on the conveyor belt.  She turned to me, scowled, and swept her hand down dramatically, pointing at my feet.  I looked down: yes, I was on the green.  The problem was that she was not standing on hers.  I said nothing.

The clerk finished ringing her up, and she moved forward to the credit card station, so I moved up to the next circle.  Again she gesticulated at my feet, this time adding, "Stand back!"

"But the WHO says one meter for social distancing.  That's 39 inches.  Follow the science!"

She snarled, "I'm a f------ !@#$.  I don't need the science!"

"I caught the adjective but not the noun.  What are you again?"

"I'm a pharmacist!"

"And not just a pharmacist, but a f------ pharmacist!  You go with the CDC; I'll follow WHO.  Follow the science!"

"You're making me uncomfortable!"

I did not know if she was going to call for the manager or the police.  Instead, she berated the clerk.  "You need to enforce that!"

He smiled.  "Not my job."

"It is your job!"

They went through that do-loop a couple times, then she flounced off in a fit of angry self-regard.  "Flounced" is probably the wrong word.  Shambled?  Lumbered?

As the clerk was ringing me up, a smile played about his lips.  "You know what's funny?  You and I are way closer than six feet."  He was right: to use the credit card reader, the customer must move beyond the Plexiglas shield, standing about two feet from the clerk.  The man behind me in line laughed.

I was taught, lo, those many years ago, that science is a heuristic enterprise: hypothesis followed by experiment followed by adjustment to or abandonment of the hypothesis.  What did my teachers know?  Now it's a monolithic system that brooks no dissent.  The science of the great questions of our day is settled, a thoroughly domesticated servant, no adjustments wanted or needed.  In case of disagreements over the science, as that between the WHO and CDC over social distancing, we'll tell you which is orthodoxy and which is heresy.

Henry Percy is the nom de guerre of a writer in Arizona. He may be reached at saler.50d[at]gmail.com.