Going off half-masked

I’m tired.

No, I’m exhausted. Mask on. Mask off. Mask on. Mask off. I feel like my face is a platform for Mr. Myagi to teach about defending myself against bully viruses.

More than just the tiresome exercise of putting on and removing my mask while out doing errands, I’m tired of the ping pong-ey rules about wearing a mask.

I’m starting to pine for the days when the rules about mask wearing were clear cut and impossible to ignore. Not because I’m confused about what I should do, but because for some it seems like a license to start licking the produce.

The death and hospitalization rates in Los Angeles County have plummeted. That means that with more of us protected, we don’t have to be quite as Boy-in-the-Bubble cautious as we were last Spring.

However, I’m still in the camp of wearing a mask inside stores and restaurants, mostly because the employees have no choice. A little solidarity never hurt anyone.

My family is vaxxed (although I still need my booster). We’ve even been through a bout of COVID (Omicron). My immune system is strong and I’m in excellent health. I’m not afraid of what might happen to me, I’m more concerned with spreading it to those who can’t fight it.

I don’t usually wear a mask in outdoor spaces, because, well, air. I also wasn’t wearing one in the early days when I would go on a run, because there was literally no human within 25 feet of me at any time. I did carry one with me. I’m a pragmatist and I like logic.

What’s making me tired these days is the effect of the middle-of-the-road rules on mask wearing from the various government entities. They can be loosely interpreted quite easily. For some people, “strongly recommended” means that you should wear a mask indoors. For others, it means that only idiots and snowflakes wear a mask, ever. If you’ve been anywhere wearing a mask lately and gotten “the look” from a non-mask wearer, you know what I mean. It’s a combination of simpering half smile and snarky superiority that seems to say, Aww, you poor dumb animal being led by your emotions.

I don’t need to rehash the toddler-level tantrum thrown by the governor of Florida upon seeing a group of students wearing masks. But it’s worth contemplating, because I believe that is the crux of the problem.

It’s not really about the rules. It’s no longer about fear. It’s about the shopping cart principle. There are those who will return a shopping cart because their thinking goes beyond taking care of Numero Uno. In the same vein, protecting other people from a potentially deadly virus is a decision you make because you’re part of society, not above it.

I don’t enjoy wearing a mask, or even remembering that I need to put it on. In fact, I loathe it. When we get past this pandemic, I will breathe (literally) a huge sigh of relief.

Until then, I will wear this shopping cart mask on my face as a signal to the other people who wear them that we’re in this together.



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