Masks in Public, Please!

My daughter called me recently. She was distraught and terrified of getting the coronavirus. She lives on her own and has been working at a pharmacy throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. An elderly woman came in hacking and coughing without covering her mouth in the food section. She bought saltine crackers and soda water and she was clearly sick (or perhaps I’m assuming this and she was a smoker with a terrible cough). Then 15 minutes later, a man came in who wasn’t being intentionally unkind, but as he checked out, he plied my daughter with conspiracy theories, including telling her that the mask she was wearing could be from China and purposely infected with the coronavirus. That was the last straw. She broke down. Her manager was kind enough to send her home. She was in no position to work that day. Twenty years old, taking the bus to work in a town far enough from home, living by herself and missing us terribly.

Everyone is experiencing this time differently, but I do know one thing. We have to change our habits and be mindful of other people. As I write, I know there are people who are not practicing social distancing. There are people who go grocery shopping and stand right beside other people. I get it. We are creatures of habit. But this is NOT a normal time. I’ve also heard of people harassing their hairdressers, gym owners, bars and other businesses to open up.  I’ve heard of people still inviting friends over for dinner. I’ve heard of people coughing or spitting on products in stores. I’ve heard the worst and I’ve heard the best of people. I’ve heard stories that have horrified me, and stories that have inspired me. I don’t have all the answers and I’m sure that one day, we will know more about this virus. We’ll find out if the conspiracy theories are true. We’ll have a vaccine for those who wish to be vaccinated (I’ll be one of those). But now, more than ever, we need to be considerate of others. It sounds so easy, so cliché but we have been living in a cultural climate of ME, ME, ME. It is time to take the focus off ourselves.

Not everything one wants to say, should be said. Keep conspiracy theories to your close friends who care. No one else wants to hear it, especially someone who is busy serving the public.

Stop inviting people to go out or come over. Not at this time. It will be over soon. In the meantime, read a book or something.

Wear a mask when leaving the house for any reason. ( I’m still waiting on my masks from Amazon but I got creative with my grandmother’s old handkerchiefs and two elastic bands).

Give people space in supermarkets and drugstores. There’s nothing more annoying than having someone come up right beside you as you both stare at the shelf. (This is especially for the father and his teenage daughter who thought it was okay to stand beside me at Shopper’s Drug Mart while they chose hair products. Couldn’t you have waited till I moved? After all, no one is in a rush right now.)

I’m writing the obvious, but stay home if you have a hacking cough. If you must go out, wear a mask obviously.

Most importantly, be kind to each other. If you’re out of the habit, just practice. It gets easier.

Say nothing, do nothing, that you would not tolerate being done to you. That piece of wisdom was said thousands of years ago. It’s still relevant.