Tuesday, June 30

Why Are You Wearing a Mask? Teachable Moment Lost

As an UberLyftGrubHub-type independent contractor, I am supposed to wear a mask when I work the side hustle. I am generally OK with it, but I have been mask-shamed enough in Jacksonville that it's time to write about my experiences so that (hopefully) others don't have to deal with the same bullying. 

Yes, I (and other people) will be driving around with masks on, even all alone. These people might be driving other people around in a rideshare, they might be delivering food or supplies, or they might be just around the corner from picking up Grandma. The point is that people who are wearing masks all alone in a vehicle, probably have a reason to be wearing that mask, and no one is wearing a mask to ridicule you or your president. 

I have had three people in less than a month decide to ask me why I was wearing a mask. The latest was potentially the best opportunity to turn the situation into a teachable moment, but I instead acted in anger (with a touch of worry), so I missed the chance. I'd like to take the opportunity to add a little to the initial interaction now. 

A high school-aged girl rolled down her window as I sat at a red light. "Why are you wearing a mask when you're all alone?" 

"I am driving for UberLyft and it's required, Babe," was my first response. I don't normally call girls/women "babes," but I was feeling a little sassy. She smiled and was satisfied, but that's when anger took hold of me instead of reason. "And so I don't have to smell you," I added. 

She was quick enough to bring back, "Yeah, people are pretty gross," as she rolled up her window. But that's not how it was supposed to end, with her making a Tik Tok video about the mean UberLyft guy who said she smelled bad. Actually, I tamed my response way down BECAUSE she was so young, since I've been preparing some real zingers, but I've also thought of some more important things I could have said. So here's what I really meant to say. 

"None of us are all alone." No man is an island entire of itself. We are all in this together, and we need to be responsible for each other. This answer would not have addressed the specifics, but it might have gotten an important point across. All the young people, like this girl, deciding to head out for no real reason, may not realize that when the bell tolls, it tolls for them. 30, 40, 50 deaths PER DAY in Florida have mostly been preventable, at least a percentage of them. So what if I over-wear my mask to protect others (or myself) just a little bit more than the CDC even requires? 

"Why aren't YOU wearing a mask?" This answer might not always work, but this white girl was sitting next to her Blasian/Whack/Blaxican friend. I only mention the other girl's race because it led me to assume they were not siblings (and combining race names is an interesting use of language, and two friends out for a drive during a pandemic should both be wearing masks. If Kaitlyn goes and infects her grandma with Type-2 Diabetes because she got a virus from an asymptomatic friend, then Kaitlyn will feel guilty. I met a guy who said he brought Covid-19 home to his dad and his dad died. While the guy I met did not seem to blame himself (and that's probably the best response), I couldn't help but feel like I would have blamed myself. Anyone who refuses to wear a simple mask and then carries a deadly virus to a loved one should feel guilty. I'd feel guilty even if the virus got through my mask. Yes, you should feel guilty if you show up to school or a nursing home with the flu, but Covid-19 is marginally worse than the flu, AND it's been covered by the media enough to remind you. 

"I don't want to smell all the BS from people like you." This response is taking it more political. I hear a lot of people who say Covid-19 is overhyped or fake. I assume that people who are going to bother to call me out for wearing a mask (while not wearing a mask next to a non-family member) do not believe in pandemics, masks, or science. 

"Jacksonville stinks!" I kind of like this open-ended version of the previous answer, since it's not putting her down overtly. But it still is. And it's not making it all political, but it still is, if you read into it. But I am pretty sure these two teens were fairly shallow, so she probably would have just assumed I was being completely literal. 

"I don't want to have to hurt your grandma/mom if I give her a ride, so I strap on protection." This one is probably my favorite of the comebacks I have considered since the latest incident. I might have even thought of it at the time, but when I saw two teenage girls, I decided to tone it down a few notches. Still, the double entendre here is pretty funny. But it's also true. 

"I'm a real American." Just reverse psychology here. Most people who think masks are wrong somehow see them as an afront to patriotism, but nothing is more patriotic than sacrificing for the good of your country.

Don't read the following comeback unless you are over 17 or are being supervised by an adult:
"Because your / your mom's ________ -_________ed __________ ________ of _________ _________'s __________  that has been used to __________ various _______ stars, _________, and models/wives (who are also basically ____________s) , and your boyfriend/dad has _________ from ______ing too much of _________'s _________, and the only reason your ________ist boyfriend/dad votes for the ____________ is because he wants the government to force __________ to not have __________ but then not force him to wear masks for basically the same reason, and he also probably would rather be ____________ing a super porn whore model star wife than you/your mom. And he wants to be rich, but he won't be through any ability of his own, just like his favorite president." If people want to make simple, proven science into another political debate and say that I am somehow weak for wearing a mask because a self-professed germaphobe and completely amoral president calls the pandemic names instead of encouraging the use of common sense, then I can be just as nasty as anyone, and I don't need a gun or red trucker hat to back me up. And those of you who support Trump don't need his permission to make a decision that might save a loved-one's life. You are the epitomy of stupid Americans and are embarrassing the rest of us, and while being a stupid American is usually just synonymous with being wasteful, this time you are saying your personal freedom to be a stupid American is more important than preserving the lives of millions of older fellow stupid Americans who mostly vote for the same stupid people as you. Play along, at least until we decide whether or not a vaccine is going to happen. If a vaccine doesn't seem like it's possible, feel free to abandon the masks and give your grandma and favorite hooker one last hug.

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