Let me begin by saying I intensely dislike being told what to do. Being told what to do, as opposed to being asked what to do (the more politely, the better) has never been one of my strengths. And, when someone tells me that I have to do something for my own good, such as wearing a face mask during this crazy time in the world, my initial reaction is, “You talkin’ to ME?”. I am a person who started wearing a seat belt while driving or riding in a vehicle only when it became the law to do so. I am a person who, although I always wore a helmet when riding a “street” motorcycle, never wore a helmet while riding a horse, dirt bike, ATV, snow mobile, etc., not to mention a bicycle. Oh no, not me! (One of the most fun activities I used to do, on a frequent basis, was riding dirt bikes. I doubt I would have had so much fun while wearing a helmet. But, I digress.) I, like most people, am dutifully wearing a face mask (and often, covering my head, hair, and neck with a scarf) during the COVID-19 pandemic. As yucky as it is, as hot as it makes me, and as terrible as it makes me look, I am wearing a mask. And, I will continue to do so until my city and county say I can forgo this practice. This being said, I have noticed that people conduct themselves differently while wearing a protective mask than they do ordinarily. For this reason, I decided to list some things we can do while we are wearing a mask:
- We can smile! There is no reason to look so glum, people! We are all in this together! If you see someone in the grocery store, smile under your mask. We can tell if someone is smiling by looking at their eyes; we don’t have to see a toothy grin to know when someone is smiling. Try this: Smile at everyone you see!
- We can talk! Oh yes, we can! We can say “How ya’ doin’?”; “Hey there!”; “Hi!”; “Good morning/afternoon/evening!” (check the time before using this greeting); “Hola! Que pasa?”; or, one of my favorite greetings, “S’up?” (A contraction of the more uncool greeting, “What is up?”). There is absolutely no reason why we can’t speak to one another while wearing a mask. Although masks muffle the sound of our voices, all we have to do to be heard is to talk a little louder, and perhaps more clearly, than we usually do. Exchanging pleasantries with those around us is still possible!
- We can dance while listening to music, whether the music is being played in the endodontist’ s office when he/she retrieves dental instruments during a root canal (just stay in your chair and be sure not to dance while the actual procedure is being performed); in the grocery store; in the big box store; or just about anyplace you are with your mask on your face. This may sound silly, but believe me, you will feel a lot better about the current situation if you boogie to the beat! (I’m writing this post several hours after having a root canal; I guarantee that it’s possible to dance in a dental chair. And, if you do, you will really cheer up the endodontist and all of the people who work in his/her office. They really need cheering up right now. You could also try this if you have to go to an appointment with a physician or veterinarian during this time. I am certain they need to be cheered up too.)
- We can be nice, kind, compassionate, and considerate of other people. Mask or no mask, it is possible to be friendly and kind to those around us, including family, friends, service providers, and strangers we encounter during the scary times when we venture outside our homes. There is no reason whatsoever to be mean to the check out person at the grocery store, or the receptionist at the air conditioning company you call (because, of course, your air conditioning broke during this crisis and it is hot, hot, hot), or anyone, ever. There is also no reason to be mean to your loved ones; everyone is just as freaked out as you are!
Take it from me. You can be just as nice and friendly while wearing a face mask as you can without one. And, if you still don’t believe me, just think about all of the health care providers who wear a mask (and other protective clothing) when they are taking care of you and your loved ones. Kudos to these dedicated people who sacrifice their safety to help us now and on a regular basis, all the while, wearing a mask.
It has been interesting as we have collectively adapted, some kicking and screaming, to the pandemic crisis. Masks were a later adaptation with lots of mixed messages. On one particular day, I heard the U.S. Surgeon General recommended masks and the Florida Surgeon General said they don’t help. Or, maybe it was vice versa; that is kind of the point – lots of confused messages. In the end, common sense seemed to say masks are better than nothing and we all adapted. Some people adapted better than others. I hate to admit not being prepared, but I only had some dust masks I use when doing dirty work of some sort or another. So I tried a bandana – that did not work. Then, a sun protector pull up from the neck up – another fail – the peripheral vision was terrible. I went online and ordered some masks and they trickled in within a week or two. One was a clear full face shield that Melissa told me never to wear in her presence. The other, a basic black, is my now go to. I’ve seen some cool ones. I’ve seen some dumb ones – the coffee filter/rubber band homemade one being the worst. Some are quite creative, including the homemade one with shamrocks worn by a Publix cashier. That one made me smile; and, because my hat had a shamrock (Lucky Charms brand), she smiled back. We could tell each other was smiling by our eyes, and conversation. I have made an effort to speak, a little louder than usual too, given the muffling effect of the mask, to those I encounter. I encountered a gruff old coot who was complaining about being carded when buying wine. He said, “I’m almost 90; it is ridiculous that you want my ID…” (He was standing beside a sign that said “We card everyone”, by the way). I told him “It’s the mask – she can’t see how old you are” and that stopped his complaining. Kindness comes through, mask or not. Finally, I’ve seen someone rock a mask in the most positive way. That person is a young manager at Publix, her eyes and body language were happy. She was laughing and, despite the mask, it was obvious she was in a good mood and sharing it with others. She is a great example of how a positive outlook shines through dark days. I plan to tell her that next time I see her.