Commentary: Lafayette and Acadiana Must Do Better, Be Better
If you're been downtown and on Jefferson Street in the last few years, you're most likely familiar with Lagniappe Records. The venue gives music lovers and collectors a chance to browse through boxes of vinyl to find the works of their favorite artists and to find a hidden gem among the thousands of records in their store.
The store's owners have found ways to keep their business going despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. During the height of the pandemic in 2020, the store pivoted to its roots, going strictly online to allow customers to order their favorite music. Once the pandemic subsided, they reopened their doors downtown to give customers an opportunity to seek out music and build relationships with other music lovers.
As a condition of reopening, the owners required customers to wear masks while inside the store. As expected, some customers didn't take kindly to that requirement. What wasn't expected was the reactions of some of those customers--reactions that are now forcing the owners to close temporarily to collect their thoughts.
We'll let them explain. Here's the Facebook post Lagniappe Records' owners posted earlier this week. It does include language some might find offensive.
In case you think you misread any of that, here it is again.
"In the the last 3 weeks, because of our mask policy (we require them to enter the shop) we’ve been yelled at, spit at, scoffed at, coughed at, and so on," they wrote. "Lately, we’ve been incredibly anxious about what might unfold on any given day. If people are so brazen as to verbally abuse us and spit at us in front of a store full of people then what else might someone do?"
Really, Lafayette? This is how you're going to act when someone asks you to respect their wishes? You spit at them, curse at them, and cough on them? I thought this city and this region are supposed to be the kindest and most hospitable place in the United States. I thought this was a place where when you go to someone's home or office, you respect their wishes.
Apparently, I thought wrong.
I understand why people don't want to wear masks. We're tired of them. We're tired of this pandemic. We want live to go back to normal (whatever that means) and live our lives without having to constantly worry about COVID, mitigation measures, and everything else that comes with the pandemic.
But for the love of Pete, of someone asks you to wear a mask inside their home or business, you don't have to act like a jackass if you disagree with them. If you want to shop there, put on the damn mask. If you don't want to wear a mask, just leave. Order your records online or take your business elsewhere. Simply put: Be a decent human being and walk away without incident.
Is that took much to ask?
" . . . [M]usic is supposed to bring people together and we consider our store a safe space for people from all backgrounds to gather," Lagniappe's owners wrote in their Facebook post. "This period of time has been extremely exhausting for us and has taken a major toll on our mental health. We’re hoping by taking this break we’ll be able to step back and see more clearly how we want to proceed."
We hope that this episode and the break the owners of Lagniappe Records are taking allows all of us to step back and see more clearly how to act when dealing with others.
As for me, I'll put on my mask and dive through Lagniappe's record crates once the owners reopen. After all, music is truly a safe space during these troubled times.