Michael Hallisey is Spotlight Newspaper’s managing editor. Through his career he has earned New York Press Association awards for his coverage on education, local government, and arts and entertainment.
Okay, Hivemind, I’ve got an important task in which I am in need of your assistance.
What shall I wear today?
Winter has quickly transitioned into summer and I’m challenged by my attire. I’ll readily admit it has little to do with the changing of the seasons. I’m always looking at my clothing options and find my closet to lack suitable arrangements — especially for the work week.
Pandemic restrictions are lifting as swiftly as they were implemented last year. Don’t tell my publisher, but I’ve spent more days in front of my laptop in less professional ware and more comfy-chic. All my interviews have been over the phone, and the board meetings I’ve covered don’t require I flip my camera on. I’ve covered this apocalypse like any modern-day journalist. No sword is as sharp or swift as my pen and my WiFi connection. So what if I tackled our community’s tough questions while wearing Harry Potter themed pajama bottoms and sweatshirts with cartoon characters across the chest? — My wife’s favorite is the sunglass-wearing reindeer poised under the phrase “Making it Rein.”
I recall my junior high school days when there was tremendous peer pressure to wear the “right” clothes. Anything outside of Nike or Reebok on your feet had potential to open you up for ridicule. Otherwise, the memory is pretty fuzzy these days to properly recall the official list for an acceptable attire. It disappeared along with the school code of conduct I received my freshman year.
So, my professional makeover is in your hands. I’ve presented to you the proverbial modeling clay to which you can mold. Have at it.
But, I suppose I should ask what kind of credentials you hold to prove you are up to the task? This is my career, afterall. Please tell me from which school of thought you reside. Do you think navy blue and black can be paired? I’ve been wearing slippers for far too long. I need to present myself with some semblance of respectability. We can forget about the reindeer for a moment. Obliviate.
Absurd, isn’t it? To think that I’m asking you for your thoughts on what I should wear. It’s strange, right?
I’m certain some readers have already connected the dots to this scenario and how it relates to masks.
As of Sunday, 62.8 percent of Albany County’s population has received at least the first dose of the vaccine, and 55.5 percent has been fully vaccinated. That’s still less than two-thirds of the area’s population. Though I am among the fully vaccinated, I continue to wear a mask.
There continues to be peer pressure from the other side that wants to push us from wearing our masks. Though I will refrain from making a political observation, but the state Health Department’s bold attempt to lift mask mandates in our local schools was ill-advised, at best. And, that’s difficult for me to say, seeing Howard Zucker, the state health commissioner, is an epidemiologist and I am not.
My credentials are lacking. But, Zucker also isn’t the only source of information, as we quickly learned over the weekend when schools opted not to follow along with his intentions. The waters are starting to muddy on what is acceptable and what is not, but I’m still going with what I’m comfortable with.
Those pushing to get rid of masks prematurely are likely to be within the same camp that never agreed to them in the first place. They may even be among the 40 percent who have yet to receive a shot. That’s another reason I wear a mask. I’m not telling you what to do, so I kindly ask that you do the same.
The experts in the field — a moniker passed around like a hot potato these days — have long dictated the protocol with a few common denominators: Masks, social distancing, the washing of hands — all of these steps have kept us healthy and safe for the last 15 months.
What my family is comfortable with is to remain masked. My wife and I are vaccinated. Our child is not. She can not receive the vaccination at her age. While reports continue to circulate that the series of shots is 95 percent effective against the virus, there is always that small chance we can bring it home and infect our child.
By the way, in case it wasn’t clear, I was just kidding about the Hivemind thing. I never really paid attention to peer pressure anyway.