Unmasked Hatred

The adage, “Better safe than sorry”, is more meaningful today to me and my wife than any earlier time in our lives.

We’ve followed closely the responses to COVID-19 by both politicians and health professionals and have carefully crafted a personal health and wellness guide for our own personal wellbeing.

With the exception of a half dozen governors, no other politician has demonstrated any competence or capacity to comprehend the gravity of this moment.

Health professionals, especially epidemiologists, virologists and pulmonologists, have clearly and unambiguously put forth guidelines aimed at slowing the spread of the virus by insisting on sheltering at home, social distancing, regular hand washing and the wearing of protective face masks.

We rarely leave the confines of our home, but when we go out, we wear face masks and gloves.
Yesterday, on a trip to a nearby hardware store, we were surprised to see that no employee inside the store was wearing a face mask.  We were doubly disturbed when a floor salesperson deliberately got in our face to ask if he could help us find something.  After stepping back and outside the circle of infectious spread, we told him what we needed and he answered indignantly, “I can’t understand you,”…an obvious slam at our wearing masks.
While I finished the transaction, my wife returned to the car, removing her mask before she got behind the wheel.  Another customer, who was mask-less, was leaving at the same time and followed my wife outside.  When she saw my wife, also mask-less at that moment, she bellowed, “It’s good to see someone else without a mask.”
My wife immediately held up her mask and replied, “I wear a mask. I just removed it.”
The woman gave a disgusted wave and snorted, “Do you realize how stupid you look?”
“No, wearing the mask makes me happy.”
The woman wasn’t deterred and ended the exchange as she entered her car, “You look like an Islamist.”

When hatred, xenophobia and rudeness are unmasked and combine with abject ignorance, the guilty become a witting ally of the most lethal contagion we’ve witnessed in 102 years.

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