Opinion | How to Take a Walk

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I’m going for a walk. It’s a brisk morning. The sun is shining; it’s a beautiful winter day. I have my N95 mask. I have my bottle of hand sanitizer. I’m wearing a polyurethane laminate jacket over a fluid-resistant surgical gown over a Kevlar vest, all of which is covered by a high-visibility orange safety parka. It will be a refreshing stroll.

I have my latex gloves inside breathable nylon mittens. Public restrooms off limits, I’m wearing a disposable absorbent undergarment beneath thermal underwear, beneath flame-resistant Carhartt overhauls. I cannot feel my appendages. I’m very much looking forward to an exhilarating excursion.

My knapsack is full. I’ve stowed backup masks should I encounter any maskless pandemic denialists. I have Band-Aids, cotton balls and large-wound bandages, in case my run-in with the anti-maskers goes awry. I packed five gallons of backup sanitizer and a refill funnel. I have nine factory-sealed packages of antiseptic wipes. I packed face shields and oral swabs and disposable thermometers in case I need to self-test. I have a rolling oxygen tank. This jaunt is just what I need to unwind.

I’ve set myself some ground rules. No eye contact with fellow pedestrians. No making a show of not making eye contact. No participating in demonstrations. No avoiding demonstrations if my walk becomes entangled with any of dozens of protests, all worthwhile though separate from my traipse. I’ve packed cardboard signs, one for every cause, both pro and con, should I have to camouflage myself into a particular picket line. It’s a lovely day for a saunter.

The weather is an unseasonably festive 46 degrees. I applied S.P.F. 70 sunscreen atop petroleum jelly, the liquids held in place by a full-body nylon wet suit. As my heart rate rises, the perspiration and swash will have no place to drip, remaining suspended, an extra layer of protection. Take that, Covid-19 and skin cancer. I’m wearing goggles underneath blackout sunglasses. I have a flashlight. The sun will be invisible to me on my much-needed walk.

I have a heart monitor. I have a pulse oximeter. I have a Fitbit on each wrist. I have 14 different apps tracking my whereabouts via GPS. I have an umbrella I’ve jimmied into a wide-brimmed hat with a clothes hanger and duct tape. I have my cellphone should anyone phone with leads on pop-up vaccine stations. I have a tent and sleeping bag in case I have to spend the night in line. I have two laptops and pepper spray. I borrowed the neighbor kid’s wagon to haul a cooler of rations and a generator. I can work from the vaccine line for weeks.

I’m going now. I’ll put one foot in front of another. It will be a relaxing walk.

Jon Methven is the author of the novel “Therapy Mammals.”

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