Monday, January 11, 2021

Don't curse me out for asking you to wear a mask

I had a return to make to a big box store the other day and there was no getting around going. So I put on a K95, which we reserve for the rare times we go a public place, and headed in. The return area was located right near the big open sliding doors, which made me feel somewhat better but still, I was wary. Right before I got on line, I noticed that the woman in front of me wasn't wearing a mask. 

"Excuse me, we're indoors and you should be wearing a mask," I said.

She glared at me. "It must have fallen off," she muttered, and turned to walk out the door.  

"I appreciate it, one of my kids is high risk for this virus," I said.

"Go [eff] yourself," she responded, and walked out. A minute later, she returned wearing a mask and took her spot again.

Yet another incident of mask rage, on both ends. I take full responsibility for not sounding entirely calm when I asked—because I get anxious when I am in public places, and because my nerves were already frayed from all the chaos in our capitol last week. And for sure, there are people who can't wear masks because of sensory issues. But I sure didn't deserve to be cursed out. It made me especially glad that we're mainly staying home these days.

It's a law in New Jersey, as it currently is in 37 other states, that face coverings are required in indoor spaces accessible to the public. It's too bad when customers have to be the ones to speak up. Last night, when Sabrina wanted Mexican food, we called in an order to a chain she loves and I waited outside for someone to walk it to me. As I stood at the large glass window, I watched a couple of people in the restaurants pull down their masks to talk on the phone. The store manager was standing right there. Not a peep.

For many months, masks were the only recourse we had for preventing Covid-19. The vaccine will be coming to the masses in the next few months, and it will help prevent serious illness but masks remain the key way of protecting yourself and preventing the spread of this virus. And we're going to be wearing masks for a long time to come, because even if you get the vaccine it's still possible to transmit the virus (here's a good piece on that in The New York Times and one on the website FiveThreeEight).

For some, shunning masks continues to be a political statement. For others, they're a screw-you statement. Yet others somehow still believe Covid-19 is not a big deal. #SIGH. Of course, anyone who refuses to wear a mask isn't just putting themselves at risk—they're putting the most vulnerable people in our communities at risk. That includes my Max. And as his Mama Bear, it is really, really hard for me to stay silent when people don't wear masks in public places. 

It is not my intent to be the mask police. I'm not stomping on anyone's civil liberties, given that it's an actual law to wear a mask. I am just a person who cares about my family's well-being and humanity's well-being. If I saw a crime being committed, if I saw someone hurting someone else or being hurt, if I saw someone about to get into an accident, I'd speak up. That's what citizens do: If you see something, you say something. 

One reminder I had following this incident, though, is the need to be as neutral-sounding as possible about requests to wear a mask. People are generally on edge. While I mentioned having a child with special needs to explain why I was speaking up, perhaps that wasn't necessary and only added fuel to the fire. But respect goes both ways. If people are asked to wear mask it just seems like they shouldn't get all indignant, although that's polyannaish to expect and some anti-makers are going to be. 

Deep breath. Deep breath. Deep breath.

The cat face mask (because I'll bet you're wondering) can be bought here


  1. It is such a stressful time out there right now, so I don't blame you for not being exactly calm. I'm glad that it did not escalate into something far worse than an F word.

  2. Honestly the guy was, rude, but I find it very nervy t o "mask-shame" I am very good about wearing it but understand people witrh COPD and other breathing conditions can't wear them


Thanks for sharing!

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