Mack Williams column: Park sounds, some good, some not so good

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 27, 2020

By Mack Williams
For the Salisbury Post
Where I live, the main public park had been seeing a few more walkers due to COVID-19 than in healthier times. It’s a pity that it took the fear of a foreseeable death to cause more people to take advantage of the park’s recreational offerings to become healthier.
But for a while, at the pandemic’s beginning, there had been almost nobody there except me.
As some restrictions within the park have been relaxed, the children’s play areas have been unfenced and a limited number have been allowed to again play on the swings and slides. But to those of us who have become more than a little bit preoccupied with the spread of the virus, the children’s’ laughs and shrieks of play can become a little unnerving as we walk by them.
I must confess that when I passed a group of squealing kids on the playground, I donned one of my KN95 masks until I reached a safe distance from them. I suddenly recalled my days as a grammar grade student at Granite Quarry School, especially when our class would be shown one of those old 16mm films of “Industry on Parade,” invariably filled with industrial smokestacks belching forth smoke. In these “viral” times, my mind imagined these innocent children at play being turning into little, highly mobile smokestacks belching out not industrial smoke, but instead, possible viral aerosol (and it made me feel bad to think that).
There was also the soft sound of talk (between mouthfuls) from a couple in a picnic shelter enjoying a lunch. In addition to this, I heard the far-off, hearty laughter of a group of people in a slightly more wooded area, playing disc golf.
But then I heard again, at the end of my walk, what I had neglected to mention at my walk’s beginning. Not far from where I had parked, a man shouted to someone on his cellphone. He called a woman’s name, so I figured it was either his wife or girlfriend. He was saying incredibly loud, nasty things to her which I cannot post here. On the way back to my car following my 30-minute walk, I could hear him still shouting vulgarities. I immediately donned my KN95 mask, imagining a half-hour’s worth of exhaled, invisible, possibly viral aerosol cloud just over the ridge in the parking lot. Would that I had been equipped with earplugs to prevent my hearing of what he had said. Besides any possible presence of the dreaded virus, that aerosol seemed particularly malevolent due to the words involved with it. I even imagined the person on the receiving end possibly wiping her cellphone with disinfectant, not for the virus, but due to what had been said to her.
So, sounds were re-appearing in the park, some good, some not so good.

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