A road trip was in order. We left Kalispell, then headed to Missoula for a doctor’s appointment (surgery consult.)
The following day, we headed to the Thompson Falls County Courthouse, to take a drivers test (as the Kalispell office is often two months behind in appointments, and T.F. was only a two-week wait.)
We were gone for approximately 36 hours.
Polson was our first stop. What a fantastic place to shop and feel unfettered!
One cannot visit Polson without going “thrifting,” so off we went. The sun was shining, and all was well with the world.
First stop? “Second Nature” gifts and goods. This establishment is fabulous. Clean, bright, and excellent quality brand name, thrift clothing, very upscale. (A wee bit pricier, but no masks required!) They had one of those newfangled wipe down debit/credit card machines (due to the Covid hubbub), which made me feel like I was in an episode of “The Jetsons.”
Next up, we patronized, “Country Store” thrift shop on Main. I can’t even with this place. The ambiance is straight up 90’s but so are the prices! We found great kid treasures for 50 cents to a dollar each, and I was feeling the “thrift” when I exited with 20 items for a mere $14 bucks! (And don’t let the mannequin minus the head, yet touting a mask deceive you.) The gal at the checkout had her mask pulled under her nose, no one in the store was wearing a face diaper, and to boot, I overheard one gal who walked in a little tentatively and wondered as to whether or not she had to wear the mask of shame. The employee stated (as I leaned over extra far to eavesdrop,) “Oh, don’t worry about that; we just let folks do whatever they choose. It’s their choice to wear one or not.” WAIT, WHAT?!!
Well, I can tell you, boy, howdy, I just about dropped my heaping pile of Gymboree’s and scaled that counter to plant a big ole kiss on her cheek.
But, I refrained. Glorious freedom!
Two down. We were on a roll, so we continued on.
Our final thrifting adventure took place right up the road at “Seconds 2 Go,” (I’ve always had visions of visiting this spot, and now was my chance. Boy, oh boy, it’s BIG! (A die-hard thrifter doesn’t mind the extra square footage if the merchandise is worth the jaunt, and it was.) Truly an eclectic wonderland, but the best part was the check out with the gal not even wearing a mask.
We were quickly filling up our Pontiac and thankful for a big enough trunk, so our 6 foot 2 teenage son wasn’t squished between the fire hydrant/dalmatian dog musical water globe and the coat I bought, to which my husband exclaimed, “You’re not really going to wear that are you? And to which my son and I replied, “Come on, Dad, it’s in. Plus, it’s new with tags.” Once pops stopped rolling his eyes, we made one more stop.
Could we do it? It was the Town Pump. Would we be forced to pull out the mask of shame? Or could we relieve ourselves in peace, gas up, and grab a snack without hiding behind rows of Cheeto’s sans the face contraption?
SWEET VICTORY! The Roskos fam did it! We got through Polson all the way without being shamed, beat up, or slapped!. This was better than passing go and collecting $200!
Now the actual test. On to dadadadum...MISSOULA.
Visions of Rod Sterling’s Night Gallery with a hint of Twilight Zone thrown in is what one thinks of upon entering “Zoo Town.” Especially since the Covid madness started. We thought the cashier at our last thrift store in Polson summed it up nicely.
“Downtown Missoula smells like a combination of pot and B.O.” (My sentiments exactly). Yes, it’s the San Fransisco of Montana.
By this time, we were ready for some real food, and as the traffic was horrific and we didn’t want dad to have a stroke, we went to the closest place. “Ok, let’s do Applebees.” We had an appointment to get to in one hour. Could we do it? We had to.
We entered the restaurant and waited to be seated. It was clearly stated “Masks Required,” but we pretended we didn’t see it. It took like what seemed FOREVER for someone to sit us, so we just helped ourselves to an empty table of which there were plenty. (We usually do wait, but we were in a hurry.) And just when we were three feet away from our seats, we heard her.
“YOU MUST WEAR A MASK WALKING TO YOUR TABLE!”
She was all of 16 years old if she was a day, and we slid on into home base without it. Whew. That was close. The waitress was fast; the food came quickly, and then we were off.
What bothered this mama bear the most is not the actual surgery but the Covid testing required to obtain the surgery. Our son had dislocated his shoulder 7 times in one year due to sports injuries, so surgery was a must.
My heart was beating fast as everything about hospitals, clinics, temp checks, and overbearing attendants put me over the edge. Plus, studies show that even the Covid Test can have possible horrific side effects, one of them being brain bleed. “Ok, Lord, you’ve got this. It’s up to you.” I’d been praying for weeks.
Frightfully, we had to make it past the first exterior room. TEMP CHECK. The nurse looked at us and stated, “Only one parent can go in.” My husband looked at me and said, “her” at the same time, I said, “me”! I was bound and determined to give them my “requirements” and talk my way right out of that Covid Test! The nurse then replied, “Your son’s temp is 99.1.”
I thought, “Yes, sweetheart, it is. It’s almost 70 degrees outside; he’s been crammed in the back of our car next to piles of Gymboree’s, and now he’s wearing a mask! No, he’s not got the plague because his temp is .5 degrees above what’s considered normal!”
Once again, I refrained.
Finally, our long-awaited consult came. Of course, my first comments were about the test. “I don’t see anything in the records from our doctor in Kalispell where I asked her to include that we are refusing the Covid Test.”
The nurse said, “I’m sure she only put in there what’s pertinent to the actual diagnoses.”
Well, I can tell you that was pertinent to me!
“We really don’t want him to have a Covid Test. We think we all already had what they are calling Covid anyway.”
And then she said it. “Oh, there’s no Covid Test required because he’s only getting arthroscopy and not operated on over at the hospital but at the surgery clinic, and it’s outpatient.”
What was I hearing?! This was huge to me! We actually avoided surgery last summer for his torn meniscus up in Kalispell because we knew he’d have to have a Covid Test. (We went an alternative route, and God healed him without surgery.) But not this time. This operation was imperative.
If you are reading this and take nothing else away from this article, heed this. Big Sky Surgery Center (outpatient) in Missoula, Montana, does not require Covid Tests before surgery. Go, Big Sky!!!
By this time, we were on Cloud Nine, and our confidence was really up. Should we brave it? It was a bold move; this was the big enchilada. The Southgate Mall. Yes. Yes, we could do it.
We entered mask-free.
It’s a whole other reality in that mall.
We walked through the main area with no problems. We were, however, a bit tentative to enter an actual STORE. The virtue-signaling was thick as a smoke bomb. We could barely wade through it.
Perhaps the wildest, wackiest, most socially justicical of all (yes, I know justicical isn’t a word, but this sign deserves it) was the SIGN from every crazy social justice campaign ever waged and brought to you by “Zumiez.”
Mere words can’t explain how propaganda nutso this sign was.
Finally, we ventured to the other end of the mall and entered the only store where we actually purchased something.
“This mall has no good shoe stores,” my son quipped. Then I spied Dillards. “Let’s go in there. They have some good brands.” We took a breath and fully expected to hear, “Do not enter without a mask,” but were pleasantly surprised. The sales clerk not only was super kind, but he also didn’t say one word about not wearing a mask, and neither did the young lady who was the cashier. We ended up buying the most excellent pair of Timberlands a 17-year-old could ever want, and we did it in the mall in Missoula unmasked! Not one mask the whole time!! I bent over and whispered to the female attendant, “Do you know why we bought these boots here today in this store? (Cuz I can tell you they aren’t cheap.) She looked at me, and I said, “Because you didn’t hassle us at all about these stupid masks!” To which she stated, “I know, right?”
That mall was so polluted via Missoula’s whacko City-County Health Department” rhetoric I fully expected Ellen Leahy (current Gestapo Health Department Head) to come and pounce on me out of some nearby dressing room.
One vaccine poster looked like a woman flashing someone wrapped inside an American Flag.
The worst was behind us. We survived Missoula.
Now onto Plains, Montana, Sanders County.
As we had a driver’s test appointment the next day in Thompson Falls. We decided to stay with friends in Plains for the night. We were glad we did. Plains is sweet, simple, down-home, and 95% mask-free. We visited Wild Horse Mercantile, Butcher’s Nook, Levi’s Thrift Store all in Plains, all mask free, all rocked our world. Normalcy is a virtue.
On Friday, we took off down the road and headed to Thompson Falls. Road traffic put us a little behind, so with trepidation, we called the Driver’s Test office. My husband was a bit tense that we might not make it right on time and need to retake our son’s test. So he called the office, and the gal assured us she was not going anywhere and if we were a bit late, it would be fine.
What? Since when is it “fine” if you’re late for a driver’s test appointment?
Finally, we made it to the Sanders County Courthouse.
This was it. Our son’s passage into manhood. The gal took him out driving (maybe a total of five minutes,) then we all entered the courthouse unmasked (as was she.)
“You’ve really made this a great experience for us,” I mentioned, then continued, “I hear your sheriff here is pretty mellow.”
When it comes to matters of freedom, the sheriff sets the tone of a town.
“Oh yes, our sheriff here is terrific. He doesn’t believe in any of this masking or Covid stuff.”
She continued, “Well, I used to work with children with disabilities, and I try my very best to make everyone feel as comfortable as possible. There’s no reason anyone should come in here and feel stressed or pressured.”
I almost pinched myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. The driver’s test attendent wanted to make sure we didn’t feel “stressed or pressured.” Was this planet earth?
With our son decked out in his new Timberlands, his new Driver’s License, and our car packed with everything from thrift store treasures to Amish cheeses, off we went back to the Flathead Valley where Kalispell is sane, Whitefish is whacko, Bigfork is working towards freedom, and Columbia Falls…well.. it falls somewhere in the middle.
All for now. Over and out.