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Four Bandits, a Nurse, and an Island Girl Walk into a Post Office…

The Day the Masks Came to Tavernier Towne


Holy mother of Corona Batman!!! The Tavernier Post Office was about to be robbed by four bandits and a nurse! 

Donned in a pair of our in-public latex gloves, I had just come from my P.O. box with a few envelopes of Coroninfested, frivolous, junkmail (or bills I could have gotten in my email)  I had retrieved. In addition to these hazardous materials, I had gotten a bright, yellow postcard with my P.O. box number written on it. 

Oh, crap, I thought. I eyed the non-scratched-out number on the card to be sure it wasn’t a fortunate mistake. I have to go through the lobby to the mail desk and remember all the new social norms.

I was already having a bad morning because I had to make a trip to this Grand Corona Junction for the weekly Winn Dixie sales that go straight into the trash and the masks my mom had made and sent me. Now I was going to have to fight my way to the mail desk, risking my germ health for a bag of Amazon rabbit food.

Walking toward the minefield of 4-6 possible Corona cases that had previously only been a part of my peripheral vision, I glanced up to ensure a 6-foot circumference. 

That’s when I saw the banded postal pirates and the health care worker about to demand all the daily postage stamp profits to feed their poor, toilet paperless babies. 

Ever so slowly, I backed up toward the exit, taking a mental picture of all the details of the crooks’ foreheads, hair, and identifiable tattoos in order to help the police solve the soon-to-be robbery. (I’m a graduate of Monroe County Citizens’ Police Academy 2015. I got this.)

…Then the pieces started coming together. Clue 1: Each member of the banded criminal non-quarantine quintette was politely waiting behind a 6-foot caution tape on the floor.  Clue 2: they were only asking for the packages that had been addressed to them. 


I finally remembered. 

I haven’t been in public for a week and a half, nor have I had a spare minute between teaching and tanning and teaching and working out and teaching and sleeping and making videos and teaching and writing and sometimes sleeping, to watch the news. (Did I mention teaching?) In my happy house at the end of my private gravel road, working a now-almost-regular new world job, in my own little planet of chickens and bunnies and yoga and Playstation and Netflix, I hadn’t remembered that the universe beyond my white, picket fence was morphing exponentially daily… and someone important had declared DEFCON Mask. 

I felt a hand on my shoulder and jumped, ready to throat punch the personal space invader.

“I can’t go in because I need a mask,” Jim said, startling me from behind. 

To minimize our people/germ exposure, we had decided to split our Tavernier Towne Center trip into two missions – Post Office Alpha Eagle One, solo’ed by me; and Family Dollar Dessert Cookies Storm, Jim’s tour of duty. 


I was resigning myself to the fact that we weren’t going to have sparkling water, a dish sponge, or Nutter Butters for another week or more when I remembered.

Mom’s masks! 

“Well,” I replied to Jim, trying to pretend that — four seconds ago — I wasn’t planning my escape route from this soon-to-be crime scene. “This package that my mom send to us has four masks in it. Why don’t we open it, then you can go back to Family Dollar.”

“Ok,” said Jim. 

It was an ingenious plan, until I realized I didn’t know how I was going to open the small, padded envelope. My gloves had touched the Winn Dixie flier as well as the metal door handle bar at Death Central’s entrance. I couldn’t be sure that I could open the package and hand Jim a mask without some sort of germal contamination directly from my gloves to the masks to his lungs. 

He spotted my quandary in the pause between words and actions then replied. 

“I’ll open it.” 

“But you’ve touched things in your gloves, too,” I said. “Like doors and stuff.” 

I was slightly disappointed. I thought he was smarter than that. 

“No, I didn’t,” he replied, shaking his spread latex fingers at me and kicking his right foot in the air then leaning down toward me in a secret-telling stance. “I kicked it,” he whispered with the smile of a 12 year-old-boy who was announcing he had put frogs in somebody’s locker.  

OMG, I was right. My boyfriend is a genius! And he’s willing to kick doors in to save my life! I chose the right Coronapocalypse companion.  

Jim opened the package from my mom with his frosty white, virgin gloves. Then, for the first time, with no hesitation, he slipped the elastics of his new brown-and-blue patterned mask around his ears, smiled (I think), and went to buy deliciously delightful peanut butter cookies, pink fizzy water, and a dish sponge at Family Dollar. 

Thus began — at least in our now-isolated Florida Keys lives — the day masks became part of our wardrobe and limited outing rituals.