I get it. No one WANTS to wear a mask. Well, not unless you’re attempting to hold-up a stagecoach or fight ninja turtles.
Around a month ago, I bought a cloth mask on Etsy. We already had some surgical-type masks purchased from Walmart just before panic buying started happening, but I didn’t want to wear one of those out and about because it makes it look like you are the one who is sick. After all, here in America during flu season, we put on a mask when visiting a doctor’s office if we have symptoms. The point is, I could tell that masks were going to be a necessary clothing item soon, and I wanted to be prepared.
Since then, a friend and his wife here in Chicago have begun crafting and selling high-quality masks, and I bought some for my family. I can highly recommend for an excellent fit and color/fabric choices.
My first venture with the mask was into a liquor store. I’ll be honest that sitting in the car I was having second thoughts about putting it on. I’m highly self-conscious, but in this case, I bit the bullet and just did it. Because I knew it was going to be the right thing to do.
Walking in, I immediately looked around to see whom else was wearing a mask. First employee I spotted no. First customer I spotted no. But I still went about my business, highly self-conscious to how I looked, but shopped for my booze anyway.
Not even a minute later, an employee one aisle over (not wearing a mask) asked if I needed help finding anything. I asked for what I was looking for (a special barrel-aged Jeppson’s Malört!), and he led me over to the aisle where it was. I kept my distance, briefly commented on the peculiar liquor, and thanked him for his help. I quickly realized, wearing a mask was no big deal after all. I’m just keeping to myself, doing my own thing. At that point it really didn’t feel different than wearing something unusual for me like a hat. Would you wear a cowboy hat out running errands? No? Well it’s ABSOLUTELY normal for a good chunk of the population. In some locales, you might even look out of place for NOT wearing one.
Two weeks ago, I ordered a pizza from one of our favorite places (Giordano’s!). I ordered over the phone for “pick up”, drove there, walked inside wearing my mask, signed my credit card receipt, and took home my pizza. No big deal.
Last week, I ordered a pizza again for “pick up”, drove there, walked inside (not noticing new signs on the door), and was immediately stopped by an employee who jumped up and said I had to wait outside. As someone attempting to follow the rules, I suddenly felt scolded and a bit ashamed, not gonna lie. But what changed was a new local ordinance that said only employees were allowed inside of a restaurant. The manager was apologetic, and for my part I felt compelled to explain my confusion because on the phone no one said anything about not coming inside. Nevertheless, I sheepishly went back to my car, waited for him to come out and take my credit card, ring it up inside, and give me my pizza. Lesson learned.
Last night we ordered pizza again, but this time the person on the phone explained they can only do curbside pickup, and asked if I wanted to pay over the phone, which we did. My wife and I together went to pick up the pizza this time, pulling right up to the curb at a numbered spot, with me on the passenger side. When we arrived I called the store to tell them we were there. I put on my mask, my wife in the driver’s seat put on her mask, and an employee wearing a mask and gloves handed me my pizza through the passenger side window. All was well, and we drove off.
THE POINT OF THIS STORY: wearing a mask is a courtesy to those around you. In the 5 seconds I’m interacting with this employee, I don’t want to spread my germs to him at his place of work, and he doesn’t want to spread his germs onto the food I’m buying. At this point, I’d personally feel more out of place NOT wearing a mask walking into someone’s business. They have to be there to serve their customers; I don’t need to be a jerk and make them worry that I’m unnecessarily spreading my germs to them.
Because to me, this boils down not only to respecting others, but also science. Do you believe in asymptomatic spread? Science says it exists, and the testing results indicate it exists, so if you simply don’t, that’s another conversation. So now that we’re dealing with how to prevent asymptomatic spread, why are you against face coverings? We teach children to cover their mouths while coughing, sneezing into their arm to stop the spread of germs when they are sick. But now we have a virus where it cannot be known at any given moment if we have it or not, and therefore anyone could be unknowingly spreading the virus at any time. Cloth face masks aren’t perfect, they may not block 100% of the virus if someone is infected and is out and about in society, but the mask will block a portion of it, reducing the spread. Compare that to someone who has the virus and is out and about in society and is spreading 100% of whatever is coming out of their mouth. There’s no contest.
Now, you may then bring up Constitutional rights and freedoms and whatever, but bear in mind that “no shirt, no shoes, no service” is a thing, and so “no mask” can be easily added to that for the time being. Private businesses have no obligation to entertain you as a customer, especially when local ordinances are backing up the mask requirements. The truth is, having a face covering helps slow the spread. It’s the same reason we’ve socially distanced for 45 days…to slow the spread. Don’t want to slow the spread? By all means keep rebelling against wearing a mask. But at least acknowledge that you’re consciously not helping slow the spread of this coronavirus.