So, you think Texas is too harsh when it comes to COVID-19 restrictions?

Yeah,'d be wrong.

I spent the holidays in the Pacific Northwest in the Peoples Republic of Oregon -- where weed is legal, and eating indoors is not.

Seriously, the dispensaries freaking ADVERTISE on highway billboards!

Lance Ballance, Townsquare Media

I'll give these guys credit. That's a solid, memorable name. I don't smoke weed, but even I may be inclined to check out a place called "Spacebuds." Honestly, with dispensaries almost as prevalent in Oregon as McDonald's, you kind of need to have a great gimmick to stand out.

That being said, maybe you need to be high all the time to forget that you are in the most jacked up area in the nation. It rains all the time, it's cold, and you can't do anything.

Seriously, the Fun Police are in full effect up there, as evidenced by my trip to the mall for some after-Christmas shopping.

We were starving and decided to hit the mall food court. Remember, in Oregon there is no indoor dining. It's all take-out or outside dining. However, we thought (foolishly) that if there is a food court, they might have tables set up. Or, we could eat on a bench.




Image: Lance Ballance-Townsquare Media
Image: Lance Ballance-Townsquare Media


Image: Lance Ballance-Townsquare Media

There were signs posted all over that the food court was take-out only. In fact, all of the tables and chairs had been removed. Now, honestly, who in their right mind orders take out from a mall's food court? That's the epitome of having no hopes and dreams. No one is placing a to-go order a the mall Subway, especially when there is one literally two blocks down the road. Regardless, we pressed on.

We decided on pseudo-Japanese food and tried to order from a cashier who could not be heard through her mask, nor could she hear us order, confirmed by the fact that she asked three times for me to repeat myself. Finally, I pulled my mask down so she could hear me, only to have her loudly demand that I put my mask back on.

Come on, lady. You're behind five inches of bulletproof glass and wearing a NASA-approved helmet, so just suck it up and take my order. I'm not giving you the airborne herpes.

After a wait, we finally got our food and tried to walk to a bench inside the mall, thinking we might get lucky and find a seat. Instead, we were greeted by the same sign that was prominent inside the food court: 'No Eating On The Benches.'

We looked around helplessly and decided that it would be best to eat outside. On a cloudy, foggy, 36-degree day. You know, summertime in Oregon.

We found a bench area outside and ate as fast as we could, which was futile when my food went ice-cold before I could finish. We trudged back into the mall, nursing frozen extremities and making a beeline for the nearest coffee kiosk. After all, we had to warm up before hypothermia set in.

To my eyes and experience, the entire exercise was ridiculous. It's not about keeping people safe anymore. It's about making life impossible to live by dealing in fear and panic, while at the same time saving money on maintenance and cleaning crews that are now unnecessary. Easier and less expensive to close the food court and lay off those responsible for maintaining it than actually try to offer some level of customer service.

Which leads me to my original point. Too often, I hear people here in the Great State of Texas complaining about mask restrictions, the fact that restaurants are at lower capacity, etc. Trust me, cowboys, it could be a LOT worse.

You want a taste of what it could be like? Heck, just take a quick drive over to New Mexico, where it's not much different than on the West Coast. If some of these states had their way, they'd have armed guards at the end of your block, questioning your every move.

All in all, we've got it pretty good here in Texas. So don't blow it. Relax, wash your hands, and thank God very day that we live in the greatest state in the nation.

God Bless Texas.

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