Diana Rojo-Garcia column mug

Diana Rojo-Garcia

We needed some drywall stuff the other day to fix up our wall. The wallpaper — which once barely hung on to its life on the wall — was ripped off one night a few years ago.

Long story short … my husband and I planned on fixing it up years ago. And as most of you know, uh … well home improvement projects sometimes get pushed back. Maybe not years but, you know, we’re here and we’re fixing it.

Thankfully, home improvement stores are still open, as they are an essential business.

And let me tell you, home improvement stores are by far my favorite places to shop.

Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, but I love them. There’s something exhilarating about browsing the bathroom vanities and seemingly endless shelves stocked with cleaning products.

I also blame my dad for conditioning me to tolerate the stores as a kid. The trips that were promised to be “only a couple of minutes” would end up being a couple of hours contemplating a door that we wouldn’t even purchase. (By the way, he eventually did buy that door … five years later.)

That dread as we pulled up to these stores would dissipate and at some point, become fun. I would daydream about the house I’d own one day and how I’d fix it up. Plus, Dad would always teach me some sort of lesson whether it was what each power tool was or what product he was buying in order to fix something at the house. And if I listened to him, he’d buy me candy. So I guess it was a win-win.

So having home improvement stores was essential in my childhood and as I grew up.

And, essential now, because we have to fix that darn wall. So, off to BigBox Home Improvement store we went.

Recently, one of these stores has required its patrons to wear a mask. If you don’t have a mask, they have some available to purchase for only $1. Personally, I thought the decision was great. It would have been even better if the requirement came earlier — better late than never.

This decision isn’t just prudent for other customers in the store who’ve come to purchase a new toilet, but also for its employees. It’s a no-brainer: wear a mask, get the stuff you need, leave.

Minimal effort to try to keep people safe, right?

The store that we ended up going to also had a security guard in its entrance to ensure everyone was wearing a mask before entering the main floor. The optimist in me thought that was almost overkill. Until, of course, an unmasked customer tried to get through.

There wasn’t much of an altercation, and I’m not a gawker, but the voice of the man trying to enter definitely had some resistance. And I saw him throw his hands up in the air in frustration at not being allowed in. (Again, masks are $1 at the door.) That was until the guard told the man he could put his shirt over his nose in replacement of a mask, which diffused the small argument.

The guard did a great job, but all I could think about was … “Really, dude?”

There were at least three signs outside saying you had to wear a mask in the store. Did the masked people in the parking lot not give you a hint? What about the ongoing pandemic? Did that not tip you off, like, at all?

Then images of the “Liberate” protests flooded my mind. Some protesters’ signs asked to not cancel their golf seasons due to the pandemic. Others begged to re-open the economy for haircuts. Some stated the virus models were wrong. And one read “#fakecrisis.”

Man ... I don’t think my eyes could roll any further back into my head because bruh … this isn’t about just you.

This isn’t about your golf season or your slightly unkempt hair. This issue — and the preventative measures to curb the virus — isn’t about just you.

I can’t believe people can’t understand that the shelter-in-place order, the masks, washing your hands and staying home is for the sake of others. It’s to keep your neighbor’s grandparents, kids, uncles and spouses safe. You know, the people we love and care about?

One small inconvenience — such as wearing a mask — is beyond just you.

(Note: I am not talking about those who have been laid off or those without a job currently due to the shutdown. Know that I sympathize with you. I’m specifically talking about those who refuse to wear a mask and abide a 6-foot distance from people.)

The lessons keep coming from home improvement stores, I guess.

This one wasn’t as fun as learning the purpose of a torque wrench. Unfortunately, I learned that some people can be grotesquely selfish — and I didn’t even get any candy for that lesson.

Diana Rojo-Garcia can be reached at drojogarcia@mankatofreepress.com or 507.344.6305.

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