Ask anyone to list things they love about Bend, and most will mention its warm, friendly vibe. We smile at strangers on trails and stop to give directions to lost-looking folks.
That’s gotten more complicated with social distancing and mask regulations restricting when and where you can show your naked face. Bend’s also asking visitors to postpone travel, with Bend City Council reinstating the citywide ordinance discouraging leisure travel.
But if you’re already here in Bend and looking for ways to maintain our town’s positive vibe in the era of COVID-19 and coronavirus, here are three ways you can do that.
Greet people warmly (and maybe weirdly?)
As a rom-com author perpetually picked out of crowds as “the one who’s always laughing,” it sucks to cover my most recognizable feature. Smiling at random strangers is my jam, and I know I’m not alone in missing the opportunity to do it.
But I acknowledge my open-mouthed cackle could be spreading germs if I’m an asymptomatic COVID carrier without knowing it, so I’m happy to mask up and keep my distance from people who don’t live with me.
Now’s the time for all of us to protect each other by being more creative with greetings. Friends and I have taken to shouting “social distance hug!” at each other from six feet away and awkwardly pantomiming an embrace. This is also an excellent way to verify your deodorant is working, so take a covert whiff when you lift your arms.
While waving’s still safe, consider swapping out handshakes with alternative gestures like peace signs, salutes, a curtsy, or a cheerful what-the-bleep-has-the-world-come-to helpless shrug.
We’re all in this together. Let’s keep it friendly, folks.
Show kindness to the trails
Central Oregon’s open spaces are seeing a lot more action these days as folks flock to the great outdoors in search of solitude and fresh air.
While it’s awesome that people are getting outside, the increased use brings greater risk to fragile wilderness areas.
Before you venture out, read up on campfire regulations, proper trash disposal, and how to poop in the woods (yep, really). This blog post is a good starting point.
Want to go a step further? Stuff a small trash bag in your pack and pick up litter along the trail. Yeah, I know this feels more risky in light of the global pandemic, which is why it’s worth using latex gloves and lots of hand sanitizer along the way.
For more ideas on doing your part to leave Bend better than you found it, check out our Visit Like a Local page and then go take The Bend Pledge. Even if some of it’s not do-able in our climate of travel bans and stay-at-home orders, it’s good to get your brain percolating for future visits.
Wash your hands for my dad, please
If I had a dime for everyone I’ve heard protesting mask wearing and social distancing by saying “but I’m not sick!” I would have…well, lots of dimes. Math’s hard.
But real talk, guys. You don’t wear a mask or avoid strangers or scrub your hands down to chapped nubs for yourself.
You do it because you might be an asymptomatic carrier who doesn’t know it, and who also doesn’t know you’re standing next to a guy at the post office who is the sole caregiver for his elderly grandma.
You do it because you just walked past my athsmatic kid at the restaurant where he works as a dishwasher, and none of us really knows how his compromised respiratory system would handle the infection.
You do it for my dad, the cancer survivor; or my neighbor, the Vietnam vet; or for the friendly cashier at the grocery store who goes to work every day praying she doesn’t bring the virus home to her family of five.
You do it because in Bend, we look out for one another.
Stay safe out there, friends. I’ll see you on the other side of this.