I deal in hope : Carolyn R Scheidies

Blog Bio Feeling Welcome—Even Without a Mask

These days, I don’t go out often, but before masks became mandated in Kearney, there were a few places I felt comfortable going. Now I just stay home. Why? I am one of those who cannot wear a mask.

I am thankful that Kearney considered this and wrote into the mandate exceptions for person like me. Though the exception exists, going without a mask does not engender positive responses from others encountered when out in public. Unlike for some, my case wouldn’t be difficult to prove. However, others may not look as though they have a respiratory problem or are unable to put a mask on or off on their own,

We live in a society etched in fear and fear breeds anger. Americans have been told over and over that masks are some sort of magic bullet to the point that those who are unable to not wear masks are not always treated well. Anger lashes out. “Wear a mask, already!!” There are the looks, the edging even further away than regular distancing allows.

I don’t need that, nor do I wish to make anyone else uncomfortable. I find the situation sad. Still, I recently had a taste of freedom and welcome on January 2nd. Since Keith and I were married September 2nd –more than two kids and five grandkids ago, the oldest of which turns 21 this year—we have a tradition of going out to eat the 2nd of each month. We did that until the mandate. Then Keith brought dinner in. It is not the same.

Keith knew I wanted to go out and he found a way. Odessa doesn’t have a mask mandate and the Apple Barrel Restaurant doesn’t require masks. I called and asked. We entered the restaurant and were given a cheerful welcome. The menu was filled with a variety of food items I wished I could choose.

Still, even with all my allergies, the staff made sure what I did order met my many needs. The hamburger was 100% beef with no pepper spice. No tomato. No ketchup. No bun. I ordered a bacon cheeseburger with lettuce and onion and with cottage cheese on the side. The portion was just right for my needs. Keith’s portion was so large, he had to take it slow and easy. Our food was delicious and we’re ready to return.

As individuals came and went I could tell this was a hometown, family restaurant where most of the customers were regulars who were greeted by name. Our service was great, and we spent time talking to our waitress who is a student at UNK.

We even spoke with a patron who shared a Star Wars picture with Keith on his phone, when Keith commented on a conversation. The biggest surprise came as we finished our meal. The waitress stood at our table and told us someone had paid for our meal, and when we were finished we could just leave. That made our day. (And we still left a tip for our waitress.)

It was such a relief to feel welcome—even without a mask. Our monthly anniversary experience gave me a positive memory I won’t soon forget.  Maybe, next time, we’ll pass forward the blessing we received.

© 2021 Carolyn R Scheidies
Column published in Kearney Hub 1/18/2021

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