Service of Fear III

February 18th, 2021

Categories: Fear, Pandemic, Restaurant, Subway, Travel

How do you determine when to be afraid? Has your fear gauge changed over the years?

In 1972 we were booked for a week in St. Croix. A few days before we left eight people were gunned down at the Fountain Valley Golf Club in what turned out to be the worst murder in the history of the Virgin Islands. We thought, “We live in Brooklyn. Are we going to let a few murders stand in our way?” Nobody else felt as we did: Our hotel was empty and there were few tourists on the island. Did we take a chance?

These days the incidence of murders, stabbings and injuries on New York City subways has increased so much that 600 additional policemen and women are being assigned underground. In a New York Times article Andy Newman, Edgar Sandoval and Téa Kvetenadze reported “Even though the subways have only a fraction of the ridership they had before the pandemic, violent crimes have persisted and at times increased. For 2020 through mid-November, there were more incidents of felony assault, rape, homicide and robbery in the subways than during the same period in 2019.” Meanwhile ridership is down 70 percent.

Because of Covid-19 I’ve not been in a subway since March 2020 and didn’t plan on using it soon. The latest information isn’t going to accelerate my return to a convenience I’ve counted on for decades. I’ll wait for the all clear.

A server in a Brooklyn restaurant who worried that the vaccine might impact her fertility or her future child, should she become pregnant, was fired because she refused to get a vaccine. Rogge Dunn, a Dallas labor and employment attorney and professor Dorit Reiss, University of California Hastings College of Law say that private businesses have this right according to MacKenzie Sigalos on There are exceptions such as when an employee is allergic to vaccine components or when a union has negotiated other rules.

Has the pandemic–or life experience–changed or impacted your fears? Does it make a difference if there are others to pick up the pieces should something happen to you? Are you generally fear-free? Do you hesitate before taking a subway? Should employers force employees to be vaccinated? Would you be more comfortable entering a business where you expect to stay for a time if it claimed all its employees are vaccinated?

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13 Responses to “Service of Fear III”

  1. Debbie Kunen Said:

    Debbie on Facebook: I found out yesterday a very close friend of mine has no plans to get vaccinated, her husband won’t either. They wear masks, but don’t want anything injected into them.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I have similar friends. Let’s hope there are nevertheless 70+ percent of us vaccinated to achieve herd immunity. My friends also refuse the flu vaccine and don’t seem to realize how much worse Covid-19 is.

    I’ll be curious to see if proof of vaccine will be the passport to theaters and sports events as well as weddings and other celebrations. Our friends may fear the vaccine and may not realize that others will fear them!

  3. Jim Gordon Said:

    As Alfred Neumann said in Mad Magazine years ago ” What me worry? ”

    There’s always something to fear i.e. The Texas Republican Party or actually almost all the right-wing nuts. On the other hand I got my 2 vaccine shots with pleasure( well some pain) and would recommend it to everyone who can tolerate it. To not get the vaccine is anathema to the health of the world.

  4. Debbie Kunen Said:

    Debbie on Facebook: my guess is in the very near future (2022) a passport that is electronic, will be scanned to reveal your vaccination status (if you had COVID) and when. Eventually, it may be phased out, but until we reach “herd immunity” at the level where we don’t need masks and people are no longer dying, people will need to get vaccinated. I also believe the people who refuse the vaccine will be “shunned” by their friends and family who see them as putting others at risk because of their “beliefs.” We shall see.

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:


    One of my friends said to me “if you don’t have something to worry about you’ll think of something,” and while I wish I could refute that and become an Alfred E. Newman clone, that’s not in the cards.

    Another friend’s father used to say, “It’s what you don’t think of that will trip you up.” I am constantly trying to divert future glitches or concerns before they happen.

    GREAT that you got both shots and are through the worst of the pain. Not a lover of injections I keep telling myself “a reaction won’t be as bad as the disease so get over it.” And your point that my getting it impacts others helps too.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Will you tell my friends that I can’t visit with them indoors until they get a vaccine? I dread that conversation. It will feel peculiar being the only one with a mask on in their home. But then, when the pandemic started and another customer crawled up close to me in line at a grocery store I was at first uncomfortable asking for space but soon I felt secure doing so.

    Once everyone is eligible to get a vaccine–I’m hoping that they don’t have to go through trauma to get an appointment as many of us did which will NOT help the cause–I trust social pressure by others will make it easier for us all.

  7. Lucrezia Said:

    A monumental murder stands not to be repeated in the next couple of days, so visiting the site soon after presents little or no threat. Further, such an atrocity is usually personal, thus minimizing the risk.

    Not so with a virus. It doesn’t care who you are, and being so tiny, there’s no running away. It’s many times more deadly, easily claims thousands of victims, and rates to be feared accordingly.

    PS The coward in me cautions not to visit the subway. But one must consider the odds catching the disease are many times greater than being attacked underground.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    The monumental murder frightened away most everyone else booked that week. The dining room at night was empty. When the dessert cart came around the waiter urged us to take as many as we wanted. We were alone on the beach in front of the hotel, the only tourists at church on Sunday and we took a tour and only one other couple was on it. The woman in the hotel gift shop was scared out of her wits that the men with machine guns were going to sneak into the hotel and kill her. The shop was in a deserted part of the main building. In addition, there was unrest on the island at the time between those on welfare who were paid more than the many who worked themselves to the bone and were ineligible for it.

    The subway is scrubbed clean every night but I understand that there are times in which the cars are jammed making the virus the scarier of the two threats as you wrote.

  9. Lucrezia Said:

    I don’t remember that incident offhand, and people can’t be blamed for being terrified. However, when things like that happen, odds are that the security is huge, and the perps are on the run. Hope they got caught and made to suffer the consequences — something like being shot at dawn!

  10. Ramona Flood Said:

    Ramona wrote on Facebook: Recently, I was told of a couple who are refusing to get the vaccine because (get this) the government has put computer chips into the vaccine so that they can monitor individuals in the daily lives. Conspiracy nuts. You never know what’s in people’s heads.

  11. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Let me guess who they voted for….and how many bridges they have tried to buy. Will the Loch Ness monster take care of them if they get sick?

  12. MarthaTakayama Said:

    I am not particularly brave. Experience as a court interpreter long ago broadened my fears. A Bostonian, I have always been afraid in the New York subways. The pandemic, however, has been a source of an entirely different kind of fear. It is essentially omnipresent and having my first vaccination has only slightly softened it. I feel that the hopelessly inadequate vaccination program with no end in sight weakens the effectiveness of the immunization. I am also worn out from the combination of more crime due to economic hardship, intensely ferocious racism with the new specialization of anti-Asian hate crimes, increaesed antisemitism and the inheritance of our own recent fascist regime don’t leave much time spent free of assorted fears!I find “New Yorker cartons and Adam Borowitz
    non-news reports the best relief!

  13. Jeanne Byington Said:


    National indigestion from the last administration will last a while I suspect. Some 50 percent of the population continues to revel in conspiracy theories and hatred of diverse groups–always under the surface–is encouraged to bubble to the top.

    At the same time, I think that with the influence of the Biden administration bullies will be called out–much as the me-too movement put sexual predators in the workplace on alert.

    Once there is sense in the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines the next job will be to persuade those who refuse to get it to do so. The only way I can see that this will happen for some is to forbid them entrance to their favorite watering holes, entertainment venues and public transportation. For those who believe in the chips fantasy and other nefarious claims we must hope that they represent no more than 10 percent of the population to let herd immunity do its stuff.

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