Who was that masked man? Pandemic! Episode 14

It’s been over a year since my first Pandemic episode. Things have certainly changed. Slava and I now have a nice collection of handmade cotton masks! At the beginning, I must admit, I had trouble paying more than $5 for a mask. I had a friend run up a few for me with vintage fabric. Finally I relented and bought some. Also, friends who saw me kvetching on FB sent in some. Friends are the best!

The best masks have a wire over the nose so I can wear them without my glasses fogging up. Took a while to figure this out. I prefer the ones that tie in the back, MASH style. On recent hot days, I’ve sometimes opted for a disposable mask, which basically goes against my religion, but desperate times and all that. After a year of being a volatile member of The Mask Police, I’m so ready to stop wearing them.

I’ve spent the year studying, and often being annoyed by the way people wear masks. SO many people men can’t seem to keep them over their noses. This has been compared by others to “man spreading,” which is a term for the way so many men sit with their legs super wide apart, an especially irritating trait if you are sitting on public transportation next to such a prick man. The “chin diaper” phenomenon is also gross. If you haven’t seen the South Park Vaccination Special, I highly recommend it, ps. I sometimes feel like Trey Parker is in my head.

To me, the strangest mask phenomenon, is (men) with big faces who wear the disposable masks. These people need bigger masks, but the disposable ones seem to be “one size fits all,” which is clearly not the case. I mean, it covers their mouth and nose, but leaves their chins exposed and the mask rides up to their eyes – it just doesn’t seem right. I mean, masks still look strange to me on anyone outside of surgery or construction or Asia, but….

The mask-wearers who got my harshest judgement this Pandemic were certainly those wearing the masks with the “ventilation valves” or whatever they are. I’m pretty sure everyone knows they don’t protect others from you, but people wear them because they are technically masks, and are more comfortable. The epitome of selfishness. I’d prefer it if those people just didn’t wear masks at all so we could all clearly see what’s going on.

While I’m here judging your masks, let me add bandanas to the list of insufficient face coverings. I mean sure, it’s fun to be a silent movie bank robber, but honestly.

Don’t get me started on gaiters.

I’m depressed by how many people won’t wear or wouldn’t wear a mask (or wouldn’t wear it properly) for whatever dumb political or new age/yoga/healthfood/natural or conspiratorial reason. I mean, we are in a PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS. It’s literally the least you can do, and it’s not hard. Most places will even GIVE YOU A MASK so you don’t even have to get your own! Most of our customers were pretty cool about it. I only had to get into it with two people this year, plus one vendor. I did need to remind people pretty much daily to cover their noses, or not take off their mask to talk or make a phone call. Sigh.

I had to go to a hospital in Cambridge, MA, mid-pandemic to pick up some medical records. They had me put on a disposable mask over my handmade one because they were only accepting the disposable ones as legit. Later, I put it on without my cloth mask, and it felt insufficient. The cloth one fits my face snugly. The paper one had many gaps. Color me confused.

Well, here we are at the end of May. Since I’m in New England, this Memorial Day weekend has been downright cold and damp, which is good weather for antiquing. Yesterday and today were very busy days at the shop. Almost record-breakers.

Yesterday the Governor lifted the majority of Coronavirus restrictions in Massachusetts, including most instances of indoor mask wearing. Oh, did I bury the lead?

Yesterday I was expecting to go to work at the antique store and have almost nobody come in wearing a mask. I replaced our MASKS REQUIRED sign with one inspired by the boss that said something like “Mask requirements have been lifted in Massachusetts. Please respect other people’s concerns.” Vague but hopeful, I thought. I was looking forward to not wearing a mask (I’m fully vaxxed), but brought mine anyway. But 95% of the customers wore masks! I wanted everyone to feel comfortable, so I wore mine too. We did have a fun customer who told his partner he wasn’t wearing his because he wanted to “normalize” not wearing a mask (I’m guessing he said the opposite last year), and wanted people to know not just Republicans could go maskless. Ha! At the end of the day, the store was finally empty and a couple came in maskless, and I thanked them! SO WEIRD!

Today, most of the people who came in in the first part of the day were unmasked, so I was too. Most of the masked were people with children too young to be vaccinated. I donned and removed my mask as seemed appropriate (in retail you really must “read the room”). My goal is to make the shoppers feel at ease. Later in the day, the tide turned to most people wearing masks. I feel like everyone felt uncomfortable.

After work I made two stops. My friends at the liquor store had chin masks or none at all (yesterday they were all masked up). I was maskless. It was nice to see their faces! At the grocery store, I was one of a handful of the unmasked. It felt good and weird and slightly dangerous. I remembered a friend saying she was relying on businesses that had MASK ONLY hours for the immunocompromised. I hope there are some in our community. As selfish as I feel about going unmasked, I still worry about our community members who can’t get vaccinated or are at risk.

It’s always these in between days that are the weirdest. The next few weeks are going to be awkward. I wonder how long it will take for it to shake out. I don’t really want to eat in a restaurant but am considering going to the movies….

A satisfied and perfectly-masked customer riding his new Ram!

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