I love these people, the “I’m king of the castle, master of my domain, lord of all I survey” folks that I’m seeing more and more of as we enter the “Summer of the Virus.”

(I’m thinking that’s what it’s going to be called one day too — the “Summer of the Virus.” Like the summer it rained, or the summer it was so hot. Or better yet, the “Summer all the relatives visited.” We name things so we all know what we’re talking about. We may forget dates, but we remember events.)

Anyway, back to those folks.

I had a customer who didn’t feel like wearing a face mask to come into the restaurant the other day, his excuse being that he didn’t like anyone telling him what to do. It’s un-American and all that.

My first thought was, “Does this guy have amnesia or what?”

Every day, all day, from the time you’re born, you do what someone else has told you to do.

Every day.

When you’re a kid, your parents tell you what to do, and life resembles a military boot camp. Wake, eat and sleep on a schedule your parents made for you. Wash your hands before dinner; brush your teeth after meals; say please; say thank you; say I’m sorry.

Even when you had free time to play, you were told how to play. Be nice, don’t hit, share your toys. Like that.

When you get to school it’s no different. Teachers tell you what to do. Classes start at 8, eyes forward, no talking, lunch at 11, and yada yada yada.

Then work life rolls around and you’re told what to do by the boss. Punch in, do this, do that, lunch at noon, punch out at 5, and more yada yadas.

When you’re not working and you’re out in public the government tells you what to do. Drive the speed limit, wear a seatbelt, pay your taxes, respect boundaries, don’t take things that aren’t yours, don’t smoke in restaurants and on and on and on.

The list of things that govern our behavior is practically endless.

And it’s the only way a society can function.

If everyone did whatever they pleased all the time without a thought for those around them, the world would eventually just stop working.

I have no desire to pay my taxes, but I like the fact the roads are paved.

It doesn’t take a whole lot of mental horsepower to figure out the cause and effect of why and how a society functions.

For example, farmers have to have their products inspected otherwise you couldn’t be sure of the safety of the food you eat. That’s pretty simple math.

I wanted to ask the guy what he would think if someone sat down right next to him while he was eating and lit a big fat stinking cigar because, well, no one likes to be told what to do, and to heck with the no-smoking rules.

But I didn’t. I thought about it, I really did. I actually had a whole list of things I wanted to say and ask. Like how we’re all out here risking our health so he could have a place to eat, a place to feel normal. And does he have any idea how discouraging it is to the staff to bust their tails while wearing a mask, only to have him and his attitude act like this is all a joke?

But I didn’t. I’ve learned after 40-plus years of waiting on people that selfish and self-centered folks are a part of what we all have to deal with in not only my industry, but others as well.

So I ended up not telling him off (But boy did I want to!) But I’m also not going to tell you what I did either.

I want to hear from you and see what you would have done if you were me.

Pete Mitchell’s “In America” column appears every other Monday. He lives in Geneva and can be reached at peteinamerica@yahoo.com.

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