Back in July or August, I was walking along Alvarado Street minding my own business. Suddenly, someone with a Monterey city government worker logo on his shirt came up to me and told me I had to wear a mask. I asked him to show me in the regulations where it said that. The sign above admits of no exceptions but the regulatory document is pages long. A local lawyer friend only a few days earlier had explained to me that one wasn’t legally required to wear a mask if one were exercising. I was on my daily quick walk.
So he pulled out the regulations to show me that there wasn’t such an exception. I walked over to look over his shoulder so I could show him the exception. He told me he was uncomfortable with my being so close without a mask. That’s fair, I thought, so I donned my mask. Neither Bill (his name) nor I could find the exception that my lawyer friend had told me about. For that reason, I wore my mask for the rest of my walk.
But when I got back to my office and got on line, I did find a 6-foot exception but not the exercise exception. I printed out the regs and started carrying them with me on my daily walk.
A couple of days later, I was starting out on my walk with no other pedestrians nearby when I saw a car with the Monterey city government logo drive by and turn the corner on the one-way street I had just crossed. I thought it might be Bill, the guy who had stopped me a few days earlier, but I couldn’t tell because he had had his mask on when he was walking. I figured I was safe because he was turning down a one-way street. Not wanting another confrontation, I ignored the fact that he was shouting out his window at me as he turned the corner, but I put on my mask just in case.
Then something amazing happened. Even though I couldn’t see him because it was a blind corner, I heard his car back up. He backed up all the way the wrong way on a one-way street and then turned to follow me in the road. He lowered his window to tell me that he had checked the regulations on line after having stopped me and that there was no exercise exception. I waved and thanked him.
But notice what happened. Bill thought that informing me of the absence of the exercise exception was so important that it was reasonable for him to risk backing up the wrong way when a car easily could have come around the corner and rear-ended him.
This was a microcosm of what’s so wrong with the regulatory mindset that so many bureaucrats bring to the Covid issue. Don’t worry about causing an accident because it’s so important to tell this pedestrian (me) what he had already told me a few days earlier: that there was no exercise exception to the Covid regulations.