Triggered by a dirty look he received from a surgically-masked woman when he sauntered barefaced into a Nashville grocery store, 28-year-old Travis Kane momentarily lapsed from political correctness into regular correctness, demanding loudly, "So do you wear your face mask when you’re driving your car or eating your burger and fries? Because you're more likely to die from heart disease or a car crash than you are from coronavirus.”
He added scornfully, “By the way, I walked here. Did you? Or did you drive your Range Rover half a mile to get here?”
Immediately thereafter, however, witnessing how shaken she was by his brazen exhibition of raw data, Kane hastened to reassure his fellow veteran in the war against the virus of his general political correctness. Carefully maintaining a social distance of six-plus feet, he told the woman, "I'm so sorry. This whole pandemic situation just has me feeling so anxious. Right before I walked in, I realized I totally spaced on sanitizing my mask after my last trip to the grocery store six weeks ago. I don’t think the virus can survive that long, but I didn’t want to take any chances. Sometimes unsanitized masks can do even more harm than good. And the virus is just so contagious."
In truth, Kane later disclosed, he had been visiting the grocery store on an as-needed basis, averaging about three times per week, and, to this day, does not own a face mask apart from a blue bandanna, which he has not thus far used for coronavirus-related purposes. Nevertheless, he felt that his poetic license was justified in the interest of connecting with his human comrade on an authentic emotional level.
His vulnerable approach worked. The woman's body language instantly eased, and her face relaxed into a sympathetic non-frown. “I get it," she said. "We’re all just doing the best we can.” Her eyes narrowed slightly, and she added, a touch passive-aggressively, “Even if sometimes our best isn’t very good.”
Kane laughed off the implied insult. “I know, right? We're all just bumbling through, one day at a time.” He shook his head woefully. “Did you hear about John Prine?” he said, referring to the legendary songwriter and artist who, after earlier bouts with cancer and other health issues, died at age 73 from complications related to COVID-19. “This virus spares no one. It’s taking our very best.”
The woman's eyes squeezed shut and she nodded wordlessly. “That’s so true.” A moment later, she opened her tear-filled eyes and peered at Kane with genuine compassion. “Hey, stay safe, okay?”
“Thanks, you stay safe, too,” said Kane. He smiled abashedly. “And by the way, thank you for your vigilance in calling out people like me. That’s the only we'll all stay safe."
Afterward, Kane acknowledged feeling somewhat guilty for exploiting the death of his lifelong musical hero to divert attention from his own barefaced recklessness. “That bit was a little over the top,” he admitted. “But John Prine would have understood. That woman was a bitch.”