To Hell With Anti-Mask Shame

So, I can no longer tell people I never had COVID. I got the first set of symptoms on Sept. 29, as I kind of felt tired, headache-y, and a sore throat. I didn’t really think much of it at first, but Friday, I felt worse, Saturday, I felt worse yet again, and took my first test – negatory on the COVID line.

But on Sunday, even though I was feeling a bit better (but still lousy), I took another test…and there she was. The line on the T, which in the test I had used meant COVID. It somehow makes sense that on the first day I was feeling better, my COVID test was positive. This is a strange disease.

I did my duty and took steps listed on the test information if I am found to be positive, and called the doctor. I got an appointment Monday with a doctor in my system. The doctor listened to my breathing, said it seemed pretty good, and prescribed Paxlovid. Pro tip about Paxlovid: have mints on hand because your mouth will taste like its loaded with dirty pennies. Yuck.

My wife, on the other hand, also tested positive and had a crappy doctor experience. Since she was ill a day before, it was too late for Paxlovid but this doctor did not look at her right eye, which was very red and more or less just dismissed her. This was, I think, a typical example of how men get better care than women, a real issue that is a shameful black eye on the healthcare industry.

But that’s not what this particular post is about. It’s about how a certain incident I had yesterday. Let me explain. My wife and I had a trip planned, to go to Greyhounds Reach the Beach in Rehoboth and Dewey Beach, Delaware, an annual vacation for us that we look forward to every year, and this year was our first trip to this wonderful event since 2019. We are long-time greyhound people, and lost our two greys last year. We have a new greyhound rescue, Tessa, that we wanted to introduce to the ocean (spoiler: she loved it).

We had thought our trip was doomed, but our doctors said as long as we felt okay enough to drive and masked indoors, we could go give we were both past five days from first symptoms. Since almost all of the activities, including dining, were outside, we figured we could take the trip if we felt up to it. Wednesday dawned, and we felt pretty good with no fever, so we went.

We both tested negative by end of the week, but we took a lot of precautions. It was nice weather, so we had our windows open in our hotel and canceled any maid service until we left yesterday. We wore masks and alerted any greyhound friend who we thought might be at high risk about our situation. We avoided large gatherings at the event, such as a few greyhound-human parties.

This leads me to the incident that I had at a convenience store that we stopped at in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, yesterday on our trip back. I went in to use the bathroom and get a coffee. As I was pouring my coffee, this guy who fit central casting’s stereotype of a typical elderly conservative asshole, said “You still wearing a mask? You think that does anything?”

I did what I did to another person who confronted me – I acted like he made a  disgusting proposition to me, and got my coffee and went to the cashier and said “you might want to keep an eye on that guy, I won’t repeat what he said” and when the guy started to protest, I said “Please just leave me alone, I will pray for you, you need help.” The guy was flummoxed and perplexed and started telling the cashier he didn’t say anything weird to me.

Hey, I like to have fun in these situations.

But what that incident made me think about is this: I was wearing a mask to protect that guy. My wife and I made small accommodations to protect others throughout our trip. It’s not a hard thing. I am not saying we are glorious holier-than-thous. We did not run a marathon as far as basic consideration of others, we did the equivalent of walking down the street. Which apparently, for many in our current society, is way too much to ask. Therefore, in this twisted form of thinking, no one else should take precautions.

The thing is, that guy won’t be there for you if you get COVID. Someone like him, if he is in your family, will make fun of you if you are suffering from long COVID, and call you a hypochondriac. If you have difficulty working and lose your job, he will blame you. If you die of a stroke from COVID-related blood clots, he’ll raise questions about how you lived your life. He will do this even if you are a friend, or a family member because his sick, twisted beliefs rule over all. And he can never, ever offer you any empathy, because then he might have to consider that those beliefs are wrong.

So, don’t let them intimidate you. Wear the mask, and never forget what kind of a person tries to tell you not to wear a mask. Over 300 Americans still die from COVID every day, and as long as we lose that many people a day, it’s just not over as yet.

The last word goes to The Fugees.


6 thoughts on “To Hell With Anti-Mask Shame

  1. That’s a pretty good response. Another good response I’ve heard (but haven’t yet used) is “Oh, I wear this to remind myself to mind my own business. Sometimes I forget to do that.”

    My wife and I have decided to keep wearing masks in indoor public places. Maybe we’ve been conscientious , maybe we’ve been lucky, but neither of us has had Covid. and we aim to keep it that way. To that end, we’re going to put our thumb on the lucky scale (all five shots, frequent hand washing, masking, maintaining social distance).

  2. Thank you, JCO and thank you to your wife. You did your best to protect the people around you. Not all Americans are beyond the reach of this sort of civic virtue, and I applaud you for it. Perhaps it will help you to know that some people continue to wear masks everywhere in foreign buildings and crowded outdoor venues.

    And I know I won’t be stopping until covid has become like the flu: something that’s not such a biggie. Then again, it might take long enough, and I’ll get old enough (not too far away) that I won’t stop masking even then, b/c the flu ain’t a walk in the park for old people.

    Again: thank you and (if you’re religious) God bless you.

  3. You’re a much nicer person than me. I’d have accidently spilled the cup of hot coffee I had just poured all over him. Most of my friends are over 70 and I feel like I’ve just spent the last two years waiting to bury them. And I’m not happy about it.

  4. I agree with you.
    The problem I have is that where I live (Hawaii) has a high vaccination rate. I have gotten latest bi-… vaccination on top of others.
    The issue is fewer and fewer people are wearing masks and without the visual reminder of seeing people wearing masks in the parking lot I forget.
    When I do remember no one here has bothered me nor have I seen others being bothered. Of course if one goes to Waikiki and other tourist heavy sites this may be different with people from the mainland bringing their ignorance with them on vacation.

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