Proving I’m not scared requires your commitment

Opinion section
Valley News - Opinion

When and under what conditions to reopen businesses is a matter of risk tolerance. I have a greater risk tolerance than most people. My father is a doctor, so I was a victim of zero risk policy. I wasn’t allowed to play Pop Warner football, and I wasn’t allowed to have a skateboard. While many parents encouraged their children to follow their dreams, my parents wanted me to pursue something more reasonable. Playing it safe didn’t work out for me. It may explain why I’m a medical atheist who uses bartenders instead of doctors. It may also explain why I am no more concerned about catching the coronavirus than I am of falling into a vat of Corona beer.

Although I have no qualms about returning to the restaurants and bars once they reopen, I will not do so immediately for the same reason I avoid shopping malls the day after Thanksgiving. Once the lines subside and I can obtain a seat without waiting, I will return to the restaurants and bars.

There’s a simple way to determine whether I’m actually afraid of going to restaurants and bars with the coronavirus still being transmitted or if I merely want to avoid waiting. Anybody who wants to test me on this theory is welcome to secure me a seat upon my arrival. It would prove that I’m not scared, so anybody who questions my reluctance is welcome to make the arrangements to verify that.

If such seating accommodations are in a restaurant or bar which is not economically competitive with my other alternatives, it would also require your commitment to pay for my meal and beverages. There are things I am outright unwilling to do and there are things I am willing to do on other people’s money.

Years ago, I went to Las Vegas with my brother Allan and my cousin Marc. On the way back they wanted to ride the rollercoaster in Stateline which has a 180-foot vertical drop. It was during early April, and property tax payments are due April 10. I pay my own property taxes. Allan and Marc don’t own their residences and don’t pay property taxes. After I initially declined to ride the rollercoaster, they offered to pay and I went with them.

Some years later, I was at the San Diego County Fair with someone who wanted to go on the skyride, which at the time was $3 one way and $4.50 for a round trip. I declined for the same reason I used to walk to the corner mailbox when those existed rather than take a taxi. The other person offered to pay for the ride and I went.

I have been to Six Flags amusement parks in three different states. I have been on the bungee jump at the county fair. I have been in a hot air balloon and an open cockpit biplane. I don’t need to spend my own money to prove that I’m not scared of heights.

The height ride I would pay to go on is the railway to the summit of Pikes Peak, and I’d also like to ride the narrow gage railroad between Durango and Silverton, Colorado, on the other side of the state. If someone wants to test me on this challenge, we can split expenses for the trip to Colorado.

Given where we’d be going and the fact that sharing a car costs less than individual airline tickets, we would be driving to Colorado rather than flying. Some people claim I’m afraid of air travel because I always travel by ground. The only time I was scared in the open cockpit biplane was when I was piloting it, and that was also the case when I flew in a Piper out of Gillespie Field in El Cajon. Air travel itself doesn’t bother me.

Testing that claim would require not only paying for the airline ticket but also paying for my passport. I couldn’t find my birth certificate when I renewed my driver’s license, so it’s not Real ID compliant. I found my original passport, and the passport office said I could use that instead of a birth certificate to obtain a new passport. I could fly on an airline with a passport, but I don’t need to fly to travel within the continental United States and I don’t need a passport for such travel. There’s no reason for me to pay for a passport at this time.

Determining whether someone else is actually afraid or just reluctant for other reasons requires your own commitment. Assessing somebody else’s risk tolerance means that you must not be scared to make the necessary commitments to prove the reason for reluctance.

Joe Naiman can be reached by email at