Let’s face it – most of us hate wearing masks. They’re a hassle to keep around and deal with. They can be uncomfortable and inconvenient. They fog up our glasses, make our faces sweaty and sometimes make us feel claustrophobic.
But we are wearing them for a reason – to protect ourselves and to protect others from a virus that has killed 4.32 million people worldwide and 620,000 in the United States. As of last week, 58 people in Humboldt County have died of COVID-19, and more will die in the coming days and weeks.
Another reason we are wearing masks is because of the Universal Mask Order issued by the county’s health officer. It went into effect on Aug. 7.
Stores are asking people to wear masks because that they have to. They are following the rules and making their establishments safe for customers and their employees.
The reopening was exhilarating for all of us, and businesses are battling multiple adverse conditions – labor shortages, supply chain disruption, risk to their health and that of their families – to remain reopened.
Unfortunately, Aug. 7 also saw the return of maskholes – people who behave like assholes when they are told by business workers to put on masks.
Many claim fanciful exemptions from masking rules, and after a year and a half of dealing with the pandemic, don’t seem to know that their naked, particle-blasting faces are threatening the health of others around them. How could one not understand this basic fact after all this time, unless you deliberately choose to disregard facts?
Biology doesn’t care about anyone’s chuckleheaded politics, quacks selling snake oil or charismatic cult leaders and their “wake up sheeple” conspiracy rhetoric. If these woefully misled people had been around back in the day, we’d still have rampant polio and smallpox.
COVID kills people of all ages just as dead as if they were gunned down or run over by a truck. It also imparts serious and lasting negative health effects that are still not fully understood.
The anti-maskers and their acting-out antics are blithely, arrogantly canceling all the careful measures their friends and neighbors have taken to protect themselves.
Retailers and restaurateurs report that these maskholes are verbally abusive to employees – even teenagers at their first job – yelling at them and throwing tantrums because of the mask mandate.
Some abuse-weary workers have quit their jobs rather than put up with the abusive patrons as well as the constant exposure to potentially contagious customers. Others have had to get counseling, and reduce their hours from the stress.
Verbal abuse of employees who are trying to follow the law is stupid, counterproductive and uncalled for. If these selfish, privileged science deniers don’t want to wear a masks, they can order curbside pickup. They can have items delivered to your doorstep.
But no one should have to put up with their abusive, childish behavior, nor the risk of disease and death that they inflict on people only trying to protect their health.
It’s doubtful that these people can be reasoned with. If you have to explain to someone that they need to be kind to store clerks, they probably won’t understand the concept. But to them, being irresponsible is a higher calling.
Some of the mask refusers seem to be itching for confrontation, and willing to do battle with retail wage earners who are just trying to make a living.
Or they’re collecting monetizable footage for a YouTube channel to add to the echo chamber of nonsensical noise. In that world, being a performative jerk to lowly retail wage earners is considered heroism.
For many of these poor-behaving citizens hell bent on needlessly elevating everyone’s risk factors, COVID-19 will have the last laugh. Unfortunately, they’re taking innocent people with them. And the more the maskholes propagate the disease, the more it mutates, with more variants and redoubled risk for everyone.
But never fear – the maskholes and vaccine deniers will eventually embrace science – by heading for the hospital when they catch the dreadful disease they’re inviting into their bodies.
These are tough times, but one way we can help everyone get through this pandemic is to simply be kind.
Wear your mask. Be considerate of retail personnel. Then, when you get in your car, you can violently rip your mask off your face, curse at it and fling it in the back seat.
Channel your anger at the disease, not the people who are risking their health to help you at stores, restaurants and other businesses that interact with the public.