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So Let Me Get This Straight

October 16, 2021

By Robert Altomare, BreathEasy

In my article from last week, I described for you my realization that I was a de facto prisoner in my own country. It occurred when I noticed that I unconsciously responded to a social distancing sticker on the floor with the POW survival tactics (SERE) that I learned while in the military.

The military taught us a variety of techniques to not only survive captivity, but to also survive it with honor. One of these techniques given to us was the idea of “little wins.” Now, little wins aren’t meant to bring the prison camp guards to their knees or get extra food rations. No, the purpose of creating small victories for oneself while imprisoned was to maintain the prisoner’s self-respect when forced into unimaginable conditions.

My ‘small win’ that day in the grocery store was my instinctual refusal to obey a little sticker on the floor that was put there for my “safety.” It was the moment when I moved off the sticker and realized why I moved off the sticker, that’s when I knew that my country was in serious trouble. I realized in that moment that I was being forced to ACT like a prisoner by my own government.

There are many among us who are fighting to restore these United States to what it was intended and founded to be. And, ultimately, I am an optimist in that regard; the state of the world today is simply not sustainable and the People have simply seen too much. These things cannot be unseen, no matter how hard MSNBC tries to tell us that the crowd is chanting, “Let’s Go, Brandon!” However, no matter how assured our victory is or how inevitable Liberty is ordained, this does not excuse us from defending and fighting for our national ideals and the Rights inherent to our Humanity in the here and now, no matter how optimistic we may be.

This notwithstanding, this week’s essay is not a discourse on Traditional American Values. Instead, I’d like to expound on last week’s lesson to better arm you for your daily fight for personal freedom. I provide this lesson in the form of a personal story to teach how you personally can create those little wins in your normal day-to-day to resist the tyranny seeping in all around us.

Now, before I earned my refugee status in Florida, I lived in Portland, Oregon; the belly of the Antifa beast. I can tell you from personal experience that Portland is no longer simply “Keeping It Weird” and Portlandia is not just some quirky little show. It is a documentary!

The inmates have most definitely taken over the asylum in Portland. The ironic thing, of course, is that it has always been “governed” by fools, ignoramuses and true believers of their Marxist cause. All 2020 did was poor gas on the already smoldering garbage pile in front of the hobo tent that they called a city.

So, in 2020, I had had enough and decided to leave (thus my refugee status) and moved back to the Sunshine State.  For a variety of reasons, I decided to fly to Orlando, via Denver, on Southwest Airlines (yes, THAT Southwest Airlines).  Now, I absolutely knew I was going to be forced to wear a mask in order to fly aboard their aircraft; this was a given. And, normally, I would not do such a thing (even in Portland I could count on one hand how many times I wore a mask) but I simply had no leverage to avoid it at the time.

And this is one key idea that I wish to communicate to you, the idea of leverage.  Sometimes you have it and sometimes you don’t. But you ALWAYS have a choice to participate. Nowadays, I approach every commercial interaction the same as when I walk onto a used car lot; I can always  walk away. I can’t tell you how many restaurants or other businesses I have spun on my heels and left when they demanded I wear a face-diaper while saying, “It’s our policy…” Yeah, well, I don’t work here, Toots. Smell ya later.

But a lack of leverage does not mean I must fully submit like some simp, either.  And this is where so many Patriots get tangled up and where the idea of “little wins” becomes so important: Many fighters for Liberty believe that they must die on every hill they encounter. Now I am not advocating for unmitigated surrender. But what I AM saying is that there is a way to follow a POW’s survival tactics; find that middle road, survive with honor, and then flip them off later while you’re sipping your latte without a mask. 

Here’s how I did it on my flight from Portland to Orlando in 2020:

First stop: ticketing.  As many have seen, it is now no longer necessary to go to the ticket counter at many airports; there are kiosks where you can obtain your boarding pass.  Of course, key to this is not having any bags (I sent mine ahead and only had 1 carry on). PLANNING!

So, I exited my Uber, maskless, walked through the terminal, maskless, and obtained my boarding pass from a kiosk, maskless. Remember! This is Portland, “there are 486 genders,” Oregon! In spite of my location, nobody hassled me as I walked through the terminal. Not one of those hipster doofuses with their sustainably sourced, horn-rimmed glasses, hemp-woven skinny jeans and ironically-worn Converse high tops made one comment to me.  In fact, many looked at me with a “I didn’t know we could NOT wear a mask in here” look plastered on their handlebar mustachioed faces. Little Wins.  I will not be my own jailor.

Next Stop: TSA.  Now, this is a completely different story than the kiosk. I must actually interact with a government burger flipper security guard in order to get to my gate.  So, what did I do?  I put the mask on. Why? Because I had no leverage at that stage of my journey.

HOWEVER! When I finally got to the TSA gatekeeper, I told Officer Zul repeatedly that I “could not hear him” until he finally pulled his mask down to speak to me. Of course, what did I do? I asked him to put his mask back on! That was just for me as I smiled beneath my face diaper.

Once through the useless TSA gauntlet, I immediately took my mask back off again and walked through the terminal, and again, not hassled by anyone. Of course, nobody would KNOW you could walk around the airport maskless because nobody ever dared to test!  Stop being your own jailer. Again, through this small act of defiance, I created for myself a small circle of greater Freedom than would have been normal. Again: Little Wins.

Next Stop: The Gate. I walked down the concourse to my gate, maskless, of course, and found a nice window seat looking out over the ramp to patiently wait for my flight to begin boarding.

Now, in short order, the masked, middle-aged, Portland female (I assume, this is Portland, after all) gate agent walked over to me and asked, “Do you have a mask?” to which I responded, “No” (I of course DID have a mask, but I was feeling plucky.).

She then proceeded to say, “Yes, well, masks are required here at the gate, here you go” and she handed me a mask.  I dutifully and politely took the mask but laid it on my lap and returned to surfing the internet on my phone. It was at this point that she saw that I was openly ‘defying her authoritay’ when I didn’t put the mask on “as required” and proceeded to inform me of such. Now, I can’t exactly remember how the whole interaction went, it’s been a year now, but she was visibly perturbed when I told her very simply, “No.”  As I knew and she was quick to learn, she had no leverage (yet) to force me to do literally anything (to say nothing of authority). So, after some words were exchanged, she finally let me be. Little Wins.

Later, when it came time to board, they lined us all up, firing squad style, in preparation for boarding as efficiently as possible (no social distancing required, incidentally!). Did I put my mask on at that point while waiting to board? Of course, I did. Why? Because I had no leverage to avoid it. I needed to be on the plane. 

Finally when we were allowed to board, I handed my boarding pass to the very same gate agent who before felt she had some sort of authority over my health and she dutifully (but begrudgingly) allowed me to board the plane.

Find out next week when I share more examples of creating little wins on my flight and the small kerfuffle created when they called the police in Orlando!  Spoiler alert: no jail time was served. ;)

Rob Altomare, Founder of the BreathEasy App, set to launch in just a few short weeks!

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