Ask Amy: Pandemic behavior creates feather-ruffling
Dear Amy: I have a close friend who lives in another state. She doesn’t believe the pandemic is very bad, and though she does wear a mask when going out, she doesn’t take any other precautions and lives her life as normal. She believes that everyone should try to get sick in order to get “herd immunity.”
Now my friend wants to come to this area to visit. I told her upfront that my husband and I are not allowing people into our house at this time, and that we could meet outside somewhere. That ruffled her feathers a little, but I think she agreed to that. Then, she wanted to know if I could pick her up at the airport and drive her 30 to 40 miles so she could stay with a relative.
She made a snide comment about, “Or do you not want me in your car, either?”
I told her no, and that my husband is in agreement with me.
I don’t know how to smooth things out with my friend when she is on the opposite spectrum of caring about this virus and about other people’s health.
She is an intelligent person who cares about her own health, and politically and ideologically we have always been on the same page, so I’m struggling to deal with this rift and how to approach my friend with my concerns over her visit.
I feel like I’m the only person in America that feels the way I do. It’s making me feel crazy. What do I do? — Concerned
Dear Concerned: You are not the only person in America who feels the way you do, and you are not crazy. People are responding to this health crisis along a very wide spectrum. The varying responses, ranging from paralyzing anxiety to outright denial, are challenging to family and friendships alike. Your friend might live in an area where she has not experienced the reality of a COVID strike. Like so many others, she might carom around her own media silo, unaware or in denial of the reality others are facing. Although it would be hard to read accounts of first responders and still deny the true devastation of this illness, evidently you and your friend are currently existing in different realities.
Logically, if you won’t have people inside your home just now, why on earth would you enclose yourself in a vehicle with them? Your friend’s “ask” seems to have been a challenge.
You are doing a good job of being forthright about your own limitations. Your duty should always be to convey your own values and protect your own health, while accepting the values of others and hoping that their behavior does not hold grave consequences.
I have managed to extract a silver lining from this situation: COVID has finally freed us from feeling obligated to retrieve someone from the airport.
Dear Amy: I am 81 years old, and have two grown children (with teenagers) that live near me. They have decided that the pandemic is just about over and are not taking any precautions. They go out with friends, don’t wear masks, and are not social distancing. Consequently, I have avoided visiting.
The few times I have visited, I make it a point to social distance. My daughter-in-law gets passive-aggressively angry and will stop talking to me. She just clams up.
I mentioned this to my son, and he agrees that she does that to me, but he will not say anything to her about it.
I feel that she is being disrespectful, and I would like to know how to tactfully handle it. What can I say in a nice way to help her understand?
If it were my mother or my mother-in-law under different circumstances, I would have gone out of my way to help protect them instead of ignoring them and trying to make them feel guilty! — Upset Gran
Dear Gran: Do not meet passive-aggression with passivity. If your daughter-in-law goes silent, ask her, “Is everything all right? I get the sense you are not happy with me and I’d like to talk about it.”
Dear Amy: In your response to “Making Change,” you described your own childhood games of “cowboys and Indians,” as “despicable.” Why do you feel the need to describe such innocent childhood enjoyment in this way? — Disappointed — in YOU
Dear Disappointed: I am not at all threatened by owning my (common) childhood influences and behavior and telling the truth about how these things strike me now.