Day 057: Put Your Mask Back On, Dummy
A wise man named Big Shaq once said, “You know man’s international now, check the statistics”. Forget about the whole international part, we already knew that, bruv. But check the statistics. Go ahead, check the statistics. I’ll wait. It’s bad. It’s far worse than it’s ever been. How bad is it? On a scale from 1 to James Brown, it’s bad. Yesterday alone, over 181,000 Americans tested positive for Covid. The spike that we’re experiencing right now is sharper than in icicle hanging off an awning. And it’s just waiting for the right moment to fall on you. And it’s going to get worse. Way worse. How do I know this?
It’s because Covid is old news. Nobody seems to care anymore.
It seems that people are just annoyed with the pandemic now and they just want it to be over. So how do they solve that? They ignore it. Simple. I don’t want to throw specific shade, but I need to throw specific shade. There was something that I noticed on my Facebook timeline last week. A person I know was making a call of arms for thoughts and prayers. I thought to myself, “Oh no, one of her kids must’ve gotten sick”. Nope. She was actually mining good vibrations because of the hurricane that was heading towards the Gulf Coast. “Oh, that’s still a noble cause. She must have friends or family in danger”. Nope. She was begging for divine intervention so that her family could go on vacation.
That’s like somebody getting shot next to you and you are vocally worried about if the bloodstains will ruin your jacket. And instead of people chiding her for putting her family in danger, she actually got nothing but thoughts and prayers! That’s the sad state of affairs right now. Americans are too self-entitled to give a shit about other people dying or forming life-long disabilities. It’s downright disgusting to think that people are selfish enough to go on vacations right now. You have the rest of your life to vacation. We need to chalk this year up as a loss and buckle down. Instead, people are acting like children. It’s common sense to not travel right now, especially when you’re coming from a place with high infection rates. But that’s not the real root of the problem. We already figured out how to minimize damage and prevent widespread infections, but we just can’t be bothered. It’s masks. Masks, masks, M A S K S. This has been proven to work. In June, NYC saw mass daily protests of tens of thousands of people, with nearly all of them wearing masks properly. We saw no spike in cases. After New York got bodyslammed in April, we were told that the solution was masks. From what I’ve seen, people said “okay” and started wearing them vigilantly. And it worked. Cases still remain relatively low here. That’s the thing about New Yorkers: not only do we take care of each other, but we also love opportunities to call people out on their bullshit. Over the summer, if somebody in close quarters wasn’t wearing a mask, they would hear it from the people around them.
But the walls are closing in. All of the states surrounding us are getting worse and worse. And those people are coming to the city for both business and pleasure. And unfortunately, that mask wearing malaise has gotten to us too. Over the past week, I’ve had 3 encounters in my store with maskless people. In the 9 months before that, I probably dealt with two total. And now it’s 3 in a week.
1) Some college-aged goon came in without a mask. I told him he needed to wear one and he looked genuinely perplexed. His only response was, “…mask?”. After I gave him one, he apologized and said, “I’m not used to this”. My jaw dropped, but he couldn’t tell, because I was wearing a mask.
2) A guy came up to the register with his shirt over his face. My co-worker explained to him that he needs to wear an actual mask, but he’ll let it slide this one time. Instead of thanking him, he fought back, claiming he can wear whatever he wants. My co-worker explained again that it’s okay this one time, but he needs to wear a mask next time. Getting angrier, he said that his shirt is thicker than a mask. So I did what any good manager would do: I kicked him out. He pulled his shirt down so he could yell and cuss at us more clearly. It’s this entitled and combative attitude that got us in trouble in the first place.
3) A guy standing in line pulled his mask down to scratch his face. He was asked to pull his mask back up and chaos ensued. He said he was only wearing the mask as a courtesy and we can’t make him do shit. He then tried to pick a fight with a cashier, daring him to hit him for some reason, shouting that he can’t kick him out. He then came up to me and gave me a lecture about how to treat customers. The whole time, his mask kept falling down every five seconds and I would interrupt him to tell him to pull it back up. That made him even more agitated. He told me that masks actually do nothing to curb the spread. In fact, they actually make you sicker. He cried that there’s nothing in the constitution telling him he needs to wear a mask. I countered that the constitution says nothing about crystal meth, so that should also be legal. He said, “show me the law that states that I need to wear a mask”. So I showed him the door. Not only did it have a sign on it that said that he needed to wear a mask to enter the store, but he could also use to to get the fuck out of my face.
These three encounters have given me second thoughts about the resiliency of New Yorkers. On the train the other night, everyone was wearing a mask except two men. They were both MTA employees. The people who are supposed to ensure that others aren’t breaking the rules are the only ones breaking the rules. That mental image alone shows what we’re dealing with now. We need to do better. If we’re going to fight this together, we need to tighten up. We need to look out for each other. I know it’s been a long time and you’re getting sick of this new way of life. But the more you resist, the longer it’s going to be. This shit is real and frightening. There’s a lot of things about it that we still don’t know. If you’re reading this right now, that means you were one of the lucky ones. Wear a mask when you’re in public and we can stop this perpetual dice roll.