I confess I have taken it upon myself to remind, ask, challenge, confront, and even harass folks who ignore the responsibility of wearing masks for all of our benefit during this Covid pandemic. Early, on this nearly year— long journey, there were honest debates and opinions about the efficacy of mask wearing for Covid mitigation. The facts are in—masks work at slowing and even stopping the spread of the virus. I go with science every time and the science is clear—wear a mask—always in any social or public situation.
About a month ago I went to MK’s credit union to make a deposit for her. The signs and directions were very clear—line up outside 6 ft. apart, wear a mask and wait for the security guard to check you inside. About 8 ft. in front of me was a 30–something man not wearing a mask. I asked, “I would appreciate it if you would put a mask on”. He shot back “Health reasons”. I came back, “Oh, mental health reasons— you think you are special”. He started elevating the repartee and the guy right behind me said to him “This man is right, show some respect”. About that time I could tell this guy, maybe 10 years younger than me, was ready for a boxing match. I said, “Just ignore him, it’s not worth it”. The security guard was about ready to call in reinforcements. When non—mask guy went inside I said to the security guard, “You really aren’t doing your job”. He actually said, “You are right sir, I should have asked him to leave”. When the non mask guy came out we were still standing in line. He went and got into a huge pickup with loser bumper stickers on the tailgate which revealed why he thought he was special. I love feeling vindicated.
Now to this week. I go swimming five days a week at a huge recreation center. They have been very careful to establish Covid protocols that seem to really work. “Wear masks at all times when you are out of the water” signs are everywhere. You have to line up six feet apart in the locker room while waiting for the next session to open. I love being first in line as it lets me get my favorite lap swim lane. It means I have to wait about 10 minutes as people line up behind me.
This father of two showed up and yes, he was not wearing his mask. I said, “Sir please put on your mask”. He asked “Are you staff”? I said, “No I am a human being who can read”—then I pointed to the sign right in front of us. He fumbled around looking for his mask and put it on.
I stood there staring out the door window knowing we had an eight minute wait. The little voice in me said, “Mark, lighten up”. I turned around and said, “I am sorry I was a jerk, you did not deserve that”. “It’s ok I really get it. My mom is in health care and I had Covid last March”. We began to talk. “My uncle is on a ventilator as we speak”. I again said, “You did not deserve the way I talked to you”. Again, he said, “Really I get it. I have donated 12 units of blood for my antibodies”. Now I know he is not only not a jerk, he is a hero. We continued the conversation behind our masks. “This is the first time I have been able to take my kids swimming, are you going to swim laps”? “Yep, and today I am going to give thanks that we took time to listen to each other”.
I have decided to give up my job as the Mask Monitor. Onward and Upward,