Woog’s World — Which Westport do you live in?

It’s one of the profound mysteries of life in Westport.

For 19 months — ever since COVID roared into town — we’ve worn masks. Like them or not (and who does?), we’ve done a reasonably good job of flattening the curve, and keeping it down.

We’ve done a less reasonable job of keeping our masks on our faces.

For 19 months, we see them lying on the ground. Parking lots, sidewalks, the wooded paths of Winslow Park … you name it. If there’s a spot to drop a mask in Westport, we’ve done it.

By “we,” of course, I mean “not you or me, but someone.” I’ve never actually watched a person casually toss a mask away. I don’t know if it’s done maliciously (“I hate this freakin’ thing!”), selfishly (“There’s no trash can around, so …”) or even unintentionally (“Let me take this off so I can breathe”).

It doesn’t matter. The result is the same. I have to clean up your mess. You have decided, at some level, that your comfort and existence are more important than mine.

You do it with dogs, too. Westporters love walking Fido, Spot and Fluffy. Dawn at Wakeman Park, midday at the beach, dusk at Staples High School, any time at Winslow Park — you’re there. Sometimes you have a leash; often you don’t. Sometimes you’re paying attention; often you’re chatting with fellow walkers, listening to a podcast, or conducting a very loud and very important business conversation, because after all, multi-tasking.

Sometimes you clean up after your pooch (sometimes you look to see if anyone is watching, before bending over for this odious task). Sometimes you pretend not to notice that your dog has wandered or romped away, and done his or her business in the middle of a field where children play or neighbors walk.

Sometimes, when someone points out to you that it’s the law to clean up after your pet, you offer a lame excuse, and do your duty. Sometimes you glare. No matter what, the message is the same. You have decided, at some level, that your comfort and existence are more important than mine.

You do this on our roads as well. You roar through red lights as if they were suggestions, not commands. (Yeah, you three drivers who plowed ahead eastbound on the Post Road in front of Trader Joe’s yesterday. It’s a miracle you didn’t plow into me, or anyone else.)

You weave in and out of traffic, chasing the holy grail of a lane that is one car shorter than the one you’re in. You turn right on red from the left side. You clog intersections. You pass school buses — even those standing still, with lights flashing and the red “STOP” sign extended. Because, hey, it’s not my kid crossing the street. And because you have decided, at some level, that your comfort and existence are more important than mine.

You even hog the road when you’re not in your very large SUV or very sporty little vehicle. You ride your bikes three and four abreast. You jog before daybreak wearing dark clothes, not facing traffic. You walk on the roadway, even when there is a sidewalk two feet away. You do all this because you have decided, at some level, that your comfort and existence are worth more than mine.

But that’s not all you do.

You volunteer your time and energy — both in extremely short supply — to clean up our outdoor spaces. You pick up brush at Winslow Park, collect trash from our marshes and along our rivers, plant flowers along our roadways. You do that because you have decided, at some level, that my comfort and existence are more important than yours.

You join civic organizations like the Rotary Clubs, Westport Woman’s Club and Young Woman’s League. You throw yourself into their good works, spending countless hours planning, organizing, staffing, setting up and cleaning up to raise money for people you don’t know. Children with cancer, underserved mothers in Bridgeport, Afghan refugees — they and so many others benefit from your talents and hands-on efforts. You do that because you have decided, at some level, that a stranger’s comfort and existence are worth more than yours.

You do little things that mean a lot, too. You wave another driver into line or through an intersection, even if it means waiting 12 more seconds. You talk to a school bus driver, thanking him or her for doing a thankless job with care and concern.

And you pick up a mask, or someone else’s dog poop, when you see it — even if no one is watching. You do it because you have decided, at some level, that our town’s comfort and existence are worth a little extra bit of your time.

There are two Westports. Which one do you live in?

Dan Woog is a Westport writer, and his “Woog's World” appears each Friday. He can be reached at dwoog@optonline.net. His personal blog is danwoog06880.com.