What does “bad” look like?

Published March 29, 2020

Here’s the short version of the story: I have a friend — let’s call her Jane — who lives in New York (the city). She told me about a friend of hers (“Sue”) who tested positive for CoviD-19. Apparently, despite the diagnosis, Sue didn’t bother to separate herself from her husband or teenage boys. “There’s nothing I can do.” Then Sue felt better, and decided it was OK to go shopping. No, she didn’t bother to wear a mask. Sue’s husband, shockingly, began to develop symptoms. Still, they didn’t quarantine themselves; Sue even sent her teenage boys out to the laundromat without any kind of protection for themselves or others. “She’s not a bad person,” Jane told me. “I think she’s just overwhelmed. It hasn’t sunk in.” Not a bad person. Hm. Granted, Sue isn’t evil on the scale of Hitler or Stalin or [insert evil person here], but let’s be real here: Yes, she is a bad person. She is putting other people at risk for no other reason than she doesn’t want to be mildly inconvenienced. Maybe we’re so used to thinking that a “bad person” has to be way on one side of the spectrum to earn the title, but that’s just not true. Sue is an adult. She’s not an idiot. There’s no way she could not understand what’s going on. And yet she chooses to treat everyone around her as insignificant objects whose lives mean nothing. She doesn’t mean well but screwed up. She doesn’t have bad information and thus made poor choices. No, she deliberately, knowingly put people at risk just because she couldn’t care less about them. Yeah, she’s a bad person.