This past weekend Joan and I went to our local mountains for a weekend of camping, hiking, and introducing a local place to a new member of the unit where Joan works.
We enjoyed the last bit of fall color up high before we transition to the desert and donned blaze orange as it is rifle season where we hiked.
An interesting experience happened, though. The hunters, ATVers, and anglers all wore blaze orange, and they assumed we were were “one of them” and wished us good luck on our elk hunting.
The hikers and mountain bikers we encountered (except for two people) did not wear blaze orange at all. They looked at us, noticed we did not have any firearms and wanted to know if we were hunting. Some of their body languages spoke loudly that we did not seem to be their demographic and were part of the “other.”
Earlier this year, I had the opposite experience at a local hardware store. I wore what I call my “L.L Bean Yuppie” uniform of shorts, sandals, plaid button-down…and a mask.
Though Grand County mandates wearing a mask in businesses, the mandate gets loosely enforced among the customers. Two old school rancher types loudly talked about yuppies wearing masks for no reason. Since no other customers were in the store at the time, I’m assuming they meant me. 🙂
In both cases, the people observing us made quick assessments about potential political beliefs and ideology based on the clothing worn.
Yet, in both cases, we wore what we did for common-sense safety.
Wearing blaze orange makes for inexpensive insurance that a hunter won’t take a shot if we are in their field of vision. There is no reason not to wear it when it does not functionally impact our hiking, there is a marginal weight penalty, and there is little cost for something that improves both safety and lets us share the wild places with other users.
In the same way, wearing a mask is not about a political statement. I don’t want to get infected with a disease that, even if I survive, it can cost me much money both in the initial treatment and the long-term cost. It’s a safety measure as well. And a pragmatic decision that does not impact my daily life at all.
And if more people followed the safety measure, perhaps a USA passport would not be one step removed from useless either.
People act to make some odd political statement with blaze orange, or rather not wearing it.
Makes just as much sense as this sentiment:
Both parties, which I do not doubt, are on opposite ends of the political spectrum, have an emotional reaction that ignores facts in favor of a political statement. They are more alike than different.
One group wears MAGA hats and mocks people for simple safety measures that respect other people and safety. The other group wears Patagonia sun hoodies and mocks people for simple safety measures that respect other people and their safety.
Let’s shit can this shit show and think more about the safety of others and respect other users. Be it wearing masks, wearing blaze orange, or not encouraging people to travel hundreds of miles in flying sardine cans to have an #EPIC vacation during a pandemic.
UPDATE: And it turns out those “safety tests” for flying, done by the airlines no less, are not reflective of real-world scenarios at all. Just as I saw during my family emergency.
The test assumed that all passengers wore masks and that the cabin had only one infected person. The study also did not gauge the risk of getting to and from a flight, walking through crowded terminals and queueing up with other travelers.