by Kerry Dougherty
I always liked the idea of Neighborhood Watch. You know, loosely organized groups of residents who keep an eye on things.
Sort of like homeland security for your street.
We don’t have an organized watch in my neighborhood, but we do look out for each other.
Here’s an example: I remember walking my dogs late one night when I saw a man I didn’t recognize trying to open a neighbor’s front door. It was locked and I saw him duck around the back.
Despite the fact it was after midnight, McKerry the Crime Dog went home, grabbed her phone, woke the neighbors only to learn that the “intruder” was the husband’s brother, visiting from out of town. They’d left the back door open for him.
“So sorry,” I whispered and hung up.
With the coronavirus on the loose we have a new, less friendly Neighborhood Watch at work: Busybodies with camera phones, determined to photograph, post to social media and circulate photos of folks they reckon are violating the six-foot social distancing rule. On beaches. In parks. Near ice cream stands.
I noticed my first Covid-19 tattletale a week or so ago when someone – either on Facebook or Next Door, can’t remember which – reported seeing too many cars in a driveway. This snitch helpfully named the street.
“What are they doing in there?” he or she wanted to know.
None of your business, I wanted to reply, but thought better of it.
This creepy activity has accelerated in recent days.
Over the weekend I received a complaint from a concerned reader of an open-air garden store parking lot that was jammed with cars.
News flash: I don’t care. It’s spring. People want to plant things. Let them.
Am I the only one who finds this sudden willingness to spy on each other a tad chilling?
The busybodies were out in force this weekend, snapping photos of beachgoers in bunches and posting them to Facebook.
I was on the Ocean View beach in Norfolk Saturday afternoon to see the USNS Comfort leave port. It was warm and blindingly sunny and lots of folks were out. I met friends there, but we drove separately. We arranged our beach chairs so far apart we could barely hear each other speak. Everywhere we looked others were doing the same.
Even so, it was a respite of relaxation in a stressful time.
I don’t doubt that some others were less careful, especially in Virginia Beach. Shoot, I’ve seen the photographic evidence. But there are better ways to get people to comply with social distance guidelines than having citizens turn informer.
For one thing, parents should control their kids during a pandemic. Mothers and fathers need to know where their offspring are and what they’re doing. Parents are presumably at home now so it shouldn’t be that hard to make sure teens understand what’s at stake if they act like fools with this virus raging.
Have a come-to-Jesus talk with your spawn. If it doesn’t sink in, take the dang car keys.
The City of Virginia Beach has never been shy about plastering notices all over the place telling beachgoers what they can and cannot do. Time to order huge social distancing signs – something like Six Feet To Beat The Virus – and post them EVERYWHERE. Especially along entrances to beaches and the boardwalk.
Cops should be issuing stern orders to break it up to folks congregating in large groups.
Excuse my cynicism, but it seems the goal of some of these amateur sleuths isn’t so much to get people to behave but to goad the governor into issuing some sort of draconian shelter-in-place order that closes the beaches, boardwalks and every single shop and take-out joint in the commonwealth.
Some are actually on social media calling for martial law to trap Virginians inside their homes.
People are scared. I get it. No one wants to get sick or to inadvertently spread pathogens. But most of us are social distancing. We’re washing our hands until they’re raw. We shop infrequently and we mostly stay home. When we’re at the supermarket, we give everyone a wide berth. We definitely aren’t going to restaurants, bars, movie theaters, gyms, bowling alleys or nail salons, since they’ve all closed. Our lives have changed dramatically and not for the better.
Going outside is all we have left. Looks like some neighborhood narcs want to shut that down, too.
When a virus is on the loose we want people to be as healthy as possible. With the warm temperatures, people ought to be outdoors: running, biking, walking and yes, even going to the beach.
You don’t boost your immunity by sitting inside watching TV with your hand deep in a bag of Doritos.
And you don’t improve your state of mind by spying on your neighbors.There are currently no comments highlighted.