Regardless of what you might think, the war against COVID-19 isn’t over and I’m begging you: Please, please… put a mask on. Being in self-quarantine has been difficult, and how you …
Regardless of what you might think, the war against COVID-19 isn’t over and I’m begging you: Please, please… put a mask on. Being in self-quarantine has been difficult, and how you choose to handle the current situation affects us all. This isn’t about me, yet somehow in your own selfish way, you’ve managed to make it personal.
Listen, I get it. Wearing a mask is uncomfortable. It’s hot out. It’s not “normal.” The entire situation is just plain bizarre. But it’s what we have to do right now in order to contain the spread of a deadly virus. This is not just my “humble opinion.”
And yet, you refuse to comply. You’re putting yourself and others at risk. I’ve just begun to venture out into the world, but after my experience last week, I’m unsure if I’ll do it again. I almost bumped into you on the street the other day, where you were within two feet of me wearing a mask, but it was around your neck, slung under your chin. When I (very politely) suggested that you put the mask over your face, you flew into a rage, screaming epithets at the top of your lungs. You called me horrible names. I (very politely) asked if you were visiting the region, pointing out that most of us who live here appear to be following the recommended guidelines. You continued to scream. You shrieked, claiming that you were happy that you don’t live here, and in between the name-calling, demanded to know who gave me the right to ask you (very politely) to put your mask on properly.
Shaken, I went ahead with my plan to duck into the grocery store and pick up a few things. It was my first time doing so in months, and I was relieved to see a sign at the entrance that read “face-covering required.” And yet, I ran into a different you, standing at the deli counter, mask under your chin. I (very politely) suggested that the mask should be over your mouth and nose and that it was required. You were belligerent, insisting that you need oxygen to breathe—unlike the rest of us, I assume. I (very politely) suggested that you wait outside the store while your (fully masked) wife did the shopping.
“Richard, don’t make a scene,” your wife said through her mask, somehow receiving oxygen in spite of the required face-covering. “Let’s just go.”
“Richard?” I said, “Is that your name? May I call you Dick? I’ll just call you Dick.” More screaming ensued, drawing the attention of several employees. One asked if I needed a manager. I replied that I did, while continuing to speak (very politely) to Dick.
Enraged, Dick called me names that I won’t repeat, bellowing that I wasn’t the boss of him. He called me an idiot. I caved and called him a “maskhole,” a word I had just picked up on the street. When the manager approached, Dick did not put his mask on but chose instead to leave with Mrs. Dick trailing behind silently.
Not another soul in the store had issues following the rules. Just Dick. When I got home, I took to social media, wondering if mine was an isolated incident. My friend Carol Montana had written about a similar experience. “I was a ‘mask bully’ twice today,” her Facebook page declared. “Two summer visitors were about to enter the grocery store with their masks down under their noses. I told them to wear them properly. Hey, it’s a matter of life and death,” she wrote, her sentiment echoing mine. “So yeah, I’m a ‘mask bully’ and will continue to be.”
I commented about my experience and Carol replied. “I saw one guy with his nose uncovered,” she stated, “and another with the mask under his chin. Neither one responded to my very polite” (her words, not mine) “request to cover themselves. So I found two employees and told them they need to enforce the law. When the hell are people going to learn?
“I used the word bully because I had seen it before,” she continued. “I was not [actually] a bully in any sense of the word. Call me an advisor, if you will, or something that doesn’t offend you. I was simply advocating for myself and others to [enter and] exit the store in a healthy state.”
My friend Matt Meinsen was less polite. “Ladies and gentlemen,” his Facebook page blared. “I present to you today’s inconsiderate, selfish little [expletive] at [yet another grocery store] in Chester, NY. I let him know it in the store but didn’t quite get to convey my thoughts on his behavior. I did, however,” he continued “question him out in the parking lot, where he verified not only all of the traits I listed above... but that he’s also a colossal freaking idiot.”
Mutual friend Carol Montana (what are the odds?) replied to Matt’s commentary. “No one, NO ONE,” she wrote with bold emphasis, “should be allowed in any store without a mask. In fact,” she continued, “if you have a medical condition, you should absolutely be wearing a mask.”
“Or stay home,” I thought. “I wonder if it was Dick,” I said to the dog. “After all, he and Mrs. Dick left the store without groceries. More likely just another ‘maskhole,’” I mused. “Huh, look at that—I learned a new word!”