Wearing Masks, Then and Now
Back in January 2018, I was traveling from California back home, and I was sick. I had gotten sick halfway through the week of visiting my family, but it wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t travel. However, I was sick enough that I knew it was a bad idea to be in public, especially an airport. I knew that I was more than likely going to infect people if I flew, and I obviously didn’t want to do that. So I wore a mask.
My cousin had one of those blue, surgical masks that were super popular at the beginning of the pandemic, before anyone had the more “fashionable” masks. She said I could have it to wear at the airport. I wore it the entire time I was in the Sacramento airport, on the plane, and in the Dayton airport.
I got looked at like I was a freak.
People gave me weird looks, even dirty looks, the entire day. I’m not just talking one or two people, I mean practically every stranger I passed. From the people in line at security, to the people sitting at the gate with me, to those on the plane, almost everyone that looked at me made a face, or gave me a look. It really started getting to me. I felt like a weirdo, like there was something wrong with me, but I was just doing it in an attempt to protect them from me.
I was extremely lucky with my seating arrangement. I had the first row, there was no row across from it because it was adjacent to the bathroom, and there was no one in the seat next to me. Which meant no one was in my immediate vicinity.
The only person who didn’t actively look at me weird was the flight attendant. Bless her heart, she was so nice. She brought me extra orange juice and napkins after I threw up in the airplane-provided bag.
After my experience with wearing a mask in public, I wanted to write about it. I was tempted to make a thread on Twitter talking about how so many people looked at me weird for doing something completely sensible and normal. But at the time it felt like overreacting, like I was being too sensitive or that it wasn’t really a big deal.
But now, eleven months into the pandemic, where people are still shamed for wearing masks, called “sheep” or “pussies” for complying with mandates and attempting to protect others, all I can think of is that day two years ago. Even now, when I go into Kroger or Walmart and there’s signs plastered on every door that masks are required, I get looked at funny by the people that aren’t wearing one. Why am I the weird one?
Why are we, the ones that are trying to protect others, looked at like we’re the bad guys? I truly don’t understand anti-maskers, and I know it’s because I have what they lack. Empathy. Anti-maskers are unempathetic; to the people dying, the people suffering for months on end, the families planning funerals. They only care about their “freedom”; the freedom to risk the lives of others by going out and exposing people to a deadly virus. Anti-maskers are selfish, and have no compassion for their fellow citizen.
Why is it so hard for them to wear a piece of cloth in front of their face? Why is it such an unbearable burden to put a little bit of fabric over their mouth for the ten minutes they’re in Dollar General? Why is it an inconvenience to protect others?
I often think if the USA had the mindset that China or Japan does, where it’s common to wear a mask if you’re sick to protect others, that we wouldn’t be in this situation. But we as a country have never really been the community-oriented type. This pandemic should’ve made us more so, but sometimes it seems like it has done the opposite.
(Side note, if you’re someone who calls people who wear masks pussies, fuck you.)
So, in conclusion, please wear a fucking mask. Yes, we’ll make it through this, but so far two million people worldwide haven’t. A lot more will make it through this if we all wear a mask. Please.