Compliance is key!

Prairie Wool

Helen Row Toews

And so, the first few days of school have passed without casualty or disaster (you’ll notice I didn’t say without complaint). There are a plethora of rules to follow, in order to keep everyone safe, but school staff and kids have accepted them gladly since we’re all happy to be back. However, returning to complaints, I have one — I dislike wearing a mask. Nonetheless, I am compliant.

I mean, I’m all about doing the right thing, I just feel a bit like Darth Vader, noisily sucking air through a protective shield as he fought to turn Luke Skywalker into a disciple of the dark side.

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Also, rumbling along the road in my school bus filled with kids, I see passing motorists stare curiously as I hunch in my seat wearing thick sunglasses, a navy trench coat with collar raised, and a black mask pulled up to the eyeballs. I must look like the ring leader of a pintsized gang of bank robbers, fleeing the scene before the coppers appear.

It could be worse though. I don’t have to “gown up” or apply rubber gloves and a disposable hat to complete my workday, as those who work in the medical field do.

Along this theme, I was recently told of a man who rushed his wife into hospital just before she gave birth in their car. It was a first child, and he had frantically paced the floor at home, waiting for his beloved to give him “the word” to start their vehicle and get her into town. By the time she did, things had progressed so far that they almost didn’t make it.

After arriving at the hospital emergency entrance, in a flurry of dust and squealing tires, the labouring woman was whisked away. Her husband trotted behind, white as a sheet and wringing his hands in distress.

Greeting them in the delivery room were various medical staff members, all wearing the obligatory blue gowns, gloves, shoes, caps and masks as they sprang into action. The wife was wheeled under the spotlights, but a nurse stopped the man, asking if he wished to stay for the birth.

“Yes,” he quavered, his eyes wide and scared.

“Then put these on, fast,” the nurse instructed him. She pressed an assortment of matching blue garments into his shaking hands before scurrying off. He stared at the bundle for a moment, then turned and left the room. Moments later he was back, rushing to his wife’s side with murmured apologies for having taken so long.

Meanwhile, a lady from housekeeping parked her cleaning trolley outside the bathroom nearest the maternity ward to empty the garbage, and marched inside to prod a hastily scattered pile of clothing with the toe of her shoe.

That’s strange, she thought, stepping back out the door to scan the hallway for life. Someone had disrobed, right down to their socks, and then disappeared…

Back in delivery, the husband bent low over his heaving wife: his puffy paper hat nuzzling her face, his rubber gloved hands cradling her clenching fists, his wafer-thin, blue booties scrabbling for a toehold on the slippery floor, and his hospital gown falling forward, treating three nurses and the attending obstetrician to an unhindered view of his naked butt.

Now that’s compliance.

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