Do you get angry easy? Does the smallest thing set you off? Do people stop talking when you walk up because they just don’t want to deal with you?

If you do, you’re not really alone around here. Alcohol.org did a survey of all 50 states and found that Tennesseans got angry, on average, four times a week. We’re talking real anger, not the yelling at traffic kind of anger that you forget five seconds later.

Four times a week seems like a lot of energy to expend on something negative, but it’s middle of the road compared to other states. The bulk of the 50 states averaged 3-4 ear steaming episodes a week.

Delaware had 12(!) angry episodes a week. What’s there to be so angry about in Delaware? Beats me and the survey didn’t really go into detail. Maybe the weather is bad up there nine out of 12 months a year?

Hawaii had the lowest outbursts every week with two. I would think living in a tropical paradise would really mute anger. I guess you could get upset if it rained at the wrong time.

As you could probably guess, an alcohol addiction support site like alcohol.org didn’t hesitate to acknowledge alcohol’s part in people getting angry. People drink alcohol to deal with anger, the site said, but it usually just makes their anger even worse.

This isn’t news to anyone who’s ever dealt with somebody who really puts them away. The phrase “He/she is a great person when they’re not drinking” is probably said on a non-stop loop around here, if not the entire world.

But in the past year, something else has caused anger to stir and that’s the COVID pandemic. A lot of the anger is from having to be stuck in one place with the same people day after day. But that doesn’t really apply around here as nobody ever really stayed home beyond a couple of weeks last spring.

No, around here I’d guess the main cause of anger from the pandemic is masks, either wearing one or not wearing one.

If you don’t wear one because you’re not a sheeple, you probably shake your head and think those people need some sense beat into them. If you wear a mask and see somebody without one, you might roll your eyes and wonder if you can have them arrested for reckless behavior.

I’ve seen lots of videos of encounters between people who wear masks and those who don’t, but I haven’t seen any around here. As disappointing as this area can be sometimes, we do seem to live by the credo if you don’t bother me, I won’t bother you.

I have gotten some looks from people who don’t wear masks, like I’m missing some brain cells from wearing one, but no one’s ever said anything to me.

And I’ve never gone up to someone without one and asked, “Do you just not care about your fellow man?”

Some of the stores with the “no entry allowed without a mask” signs aren’t really enforcing those signs. The big daddy of retailers has all their employees wearing masks, but I’d guess about 30% of customers don’t wear them. And I consider that a pretty good ratio considering the number of overweight guys with bushy beards we have around here.

There is one store, with more locations, that has the mask wearing sign, but doesn’t even make employees wear masks if they don’t want to. I won’t name the store, but generally you can spend a dollar or more in it.

Like alcohol, COVID has taken normal anger and made it worse. You can get mad that you’re stuck in the house or that people won’t stay home, but that’s not real anger. You’re usually stuck in the house in the dead of winter anyway. Who wants to be outside when it’s 35 degrees and windy?

I guess we can try our best to stay calm and not agitate or get agitated. Everybody’s just trying to make it back to a time when we can be around people and not look like we’re preparing to do surgery. Or go into a store and not have to run back to the car because we forgot our mask.

And even though minding your own business is a golden rule, let’s try to remember that we all do affect each other.

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