Today’s big errand was a run out to pick up some trial contact lenses. I’d got the ones for my right eyes a week or so ago, but the left ones were out of stock. With those acquired, I could stick them in my eyes and see just how well modern optometry could make the vision thing for a near-sighted and slightly astigmatic 46-year-old man.
Good grief, now I can tell what the hell you people have been doing with the world while I wasn’t able to see it this clearly, chewing it up and spitting it out, wearing it out at the edges and borders. Sure, you leave it with plenty of character, but what about the warranty?
At least I can still roll down the window of my car and see people and billboards and buildings, flashing signals and scattered trash in nearby gutters, and the local movie theater marquee leaping out at me with foreigners and dystopias and other obviousnesses in foot-high lettering. Long may it rave.
It took until about noon before I knew it was another bad-air day. I didn’t even have to leave the house. I just got dressed, ate a late breakfast and made sure to secure my own mask, just like the airlines tell their passengers in those safety videos.
Part of the reason was the fires still burning to our north. Another part was smoke from the Bear Fire drifting up the Peninsula. Another part was the 100-acre Fallon Fire that broke out in the afternoon east of Dublin in the Tri-Valley.
That’s more than enough parts to make a whole mess of a day’s worth of breathing. Still, the mask did its job and I did what I could of mine before going home.
By mid-morning, my chest hurt when I breathed deeply. I fitfully sipped at my morning water and coffee. Dreading another day of stressful breathing, I went to the grocery store. Not even the usual store-playlist trainspotting could distract me: oh, huh, that’s Seal’s “Crazy” followed by The Beatles’ “Come Together” and a half-dozen false starts on The Emotions’ “Best Of My Love,” before settling on REM’s “Orange Crush.”
So I was pretty happy when I got the call back from the family-run chain hardware store in Jack London Square. True to their word, the owner’s son rung me just as we got to the checkout counter: their latest shipment of masks had just arrived. So we went over and I bought a box. Then I went home, read the instructions, and took their admonitions seriously enough to shave: goodbye, goatee!
Then I went to work, settled in at my desk and masked up. After several hours of breathing with reasonable levels of comfort, I ate lunch and thought about how odd it felt to wear this thing on my face. I’m not anywhere I can’t be mistaken for anyone else, I’m not hiding my identity, and I can still answer phone calls. I’m just breathing easier.