To Wear, or Not to Wear, That is the Question

Yesterday we went to Menard’s to see if they had a glider we might like for our front porch. Our patio is now finished and we are moving the deck furniture to the back to enjoy our new outdoor space.

As we were leaving, I mentioned to my husband how heartened, and how I had experienced a bit of cognitive dissonant while shopping. The cognitive dissonance was a result of seeing a big buff guy in a mask. You know, the type of guy (or woman), when we see him, we have this assumption of him being fit and healthy. I don’t know why, it just threw me off for a moment. Seeing him, and about 90%+ of people wearing masks, I thought maybe for once we understood wearing a mask wasn’t for us individually, but for us collectively. It left me feeling we might actually make it through this pandemic after all.

However…later the same day…

It was time for a trip to Kroger’s. There I felt like a fish out of water. There were only a handful of us wearing masks. The rest of the patrons were not observing social distancing and most certainly were not wearing masks, not even the uniformed policeman who was also shopping. I started feeling very angry in seeing so many without masks. Even some of the workers technically were wearing masks, but had them hanging down underneath their chins.

As first I was angry with the shoppers. Here I am wearing a mask that doesn’t feel entirely natural to wear in the first place, trying to keep others safe in case I’ve somehow come in contact with a carrier. How privileged and ego centric they must be to not to also want to protect their fellow citizens! If this is the norm, then we are going to really feel the pain of another hunkering down soon. Or, we are just going to collectively be okay with many more thousands dying.

Then I got angry at Kroger’s. People, in times of crisis, will often only do what they are told to do. Why isn’t Kroger’s mandated masks in their stores, like Costco does, if you want to shop in their stores? Why aren’t they helping out the commons to reduce the risk of exposure and illness? Then I realized if they did mandate it, then these people would most likely go to Target, Wal-mart, Meijer’s, or Menard’s, where masks aren’t mandatory. They are watching out more for their bottom line than watching out for their communities, which is typical for a large company.

Indiana Governor Holcomb and Dr. Box were who I became upset with next. Both have done a stellar job overall, in my mind, in how they have handled the outbreak. They’ve been transparent and proactive in many ways. But, on the issue of masks, they have really dropped the ball. Rather than mandate businesses of any sort require masks not only of their employees, but also their patrons, all they have done is recommend wearing a mask. It is within their power to mandate masks in public and private businesses, and gathering spaces. However, it would have some backlash as one might expect, which in the end, shouldn’t be a reason not to mandate wearing of masks. If we are told to think of ourselves as carriers, and that anyone we come in contact with may be a carrier, and we know masks have a high effective rate in limiting transmission, why no mandate? It always seems to come back to a lack of political courage because they don’t want to lose the next election. Rarely is a decision made to help the commons when it may cost an election—re-election is more important than saving a life or two.

You might be asking if I was also angry with the Federal Government. For some reason I wasn’t, which might be because I know the man in the Oval Office has already shown a callous disregard for lives sick and lives lost due to COVID-19. So why bother? I’ll save my anger towards him for the voting booth in November.

So people, my brothers and my sisters in the world, wear a damn mask if you are out shopping or in any business. I’m doing my best to protect you from me, please protect me from you.

It’s not about you, it’s about us, and U.S.

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