It's said that old habits die hard. Hanna Clements-Hart might add that it turns out new habits can take hold pretty quickly.
A strange thing happened the other day. I was watching an old episode of "The Office" where Dwight, angry about some prank, leans in close over Jim’s desk. The scene was meant to be funny, but I felt tense and alarmed. Noticing this feeling, I realized I was uncomfortable because the characters were not social distancing.
“He’s too close!” I thought. "He’s not wearing a mask! Why isn’t Jim telling to back off?” Never mind that this was fiction filmed more than 10 years ago. In COVID-19 times, it was menacing behavior.
Over the last month, I have become accustomed to physical distancing with people outside my household. I’ve viewed with alarm (and yes, some judgment) photos of bars in Florida and rallies in Arizona. So when I see others, even fictional characters, behaving in a risky manner, I get upset. Don’t even get me started on Seinfeld’s “close talker.”
I was slower than some to adopt a mask, and even now sometimes I leave the house without it and have to run back to get it. That said, I am habituated enough that my mask has become kind of like a seat belt — I feel its absence when I forget to put it on.