by Emma Keas
for Plainsman Online
In a time when more than 200,000 Americans have died from the novel coronavirus, you would think that people would be willing to try anything to stop the devastation. Unfortunately, you’ve thought wrong.
A new brand of stupidity is breeding in America, and it’s called the “anti-maskers.” These people believe that wearing a face mask in a pandemic is going to kill them, when, in reality, the opposite is true. Anti-masker culture is becoming more and more prevalent and acceptable, with many essential workers being told to ignore customers without masks in order to avoid conflict.
The normalization of this is a huge reason why America is number one in the world in COVID-19 cases. Some people see it as an act of patriotism, expressing their free will in the great U.S. of A. What they fail to see is that wearing a mask and protecting others is the true patriotic thing to do.
Even if you do not value your own life, as some people claim that COVID-19 is ‘just like the flu’ and are not concerned about contracting it, it is not difficult to wear a piece of cloth over your face when you go to the grocery store. I promise. If you won’t do it for your benefit, then do it for others. If you could take one simple step to save a life, why wouldn’t you?
As someone who was recently employed at a grocery store during the pandemic, I have seen every form and fashion of these anti-maskers. Once, while working the morning shift, a man in a shirt with the Confederate flag printed on it and a mask hung around his neck ripped the protective covering off of the card machine and declared, “I’m tired of this Communism!” That’s a lot to take in at 6 a.m.
Another time, before my managers started telling me to ignore them, I haggled with a woman as she walked in, trying to tell her as politely as possible that she had to wear a mask or get out. She finally snatched the complimentary mask out of my hand and hung it around her ears, albeit begrudgingly. I was satisfied with myself until I saw her again on her way out, her mask discarded in the bottom of her shopping cart. She made sure to cut me a sharp look before leaving too.
Perhaps most sadly entertaining of all was the woman who walked in wearing a completely sheer mesh mask. Seeing that was like watching a child adding two and two and getting five. There was an attempt made, but it wasn’t quite right.
After a while, getting mistreated and disrespected for trying to protect people gets old. I recently quit that job, because walking into the store every day sent a wave of dread through me.
Most people aren’t fortunate enough to get to call it quits when the going gets tough. So please, please, wear your masks, and respect your essential workers.