Our breakthrough of the summer was getting Mr. Boo to happily wear a mask. Due to his many sensory issues he really does not like things touching his face. But, he also likes being out in public. And so, over the course of the last few weeks, I have convinced him to wear a mask while we are out and about. It also helps if I give him some gum to chew while he is wearing it. Thankfully, he has never learned how to blow bubbles!
Last week we had to go to Central Pediatrics for some lab work. To my horror, less than half the parents or children in the waiting room were wearing masks. No one took our temperatures when we came in or asked if we had been sick. We ended up waiting for twenty minutes in a room that felt like a petri dish. During out wait, another special needs mom came in . She looked around and appeared about as horrified as I felt. She struggled up to the check in counter with her child in a wheel chair and a bags of all his needed accessories. The receptionist handed her a sheaf of paperwork to fill out. She asked if there were a safe place she could sit with her child while they waited. The receptionist waved vaguely in the direction of the farthest corner and said that would do. So, this poor woman and I were sitting in opposite ends of the room, masked, gloved, and hoping no one would sneeze on our our child. Thankfully, we were called back, got tapped for labs without issue and fled. I was not amused.
Different scenario, same week. It had been at least six months since my last hair cut and my hair was at critical mass. After waiting a few weeks past opening I made an appointment at the salon. What a difference from the clinic! Upon entry, my temperature was taken. I signed papers attesting to the fact that I was symptom free. The pen I used was then sterilized. There were no chairs or magazines in the waiting area. In the back, the stations were spread far apart. My fear of contamination dropped drastically. Though having ones hair cut is a rather intimate process, I never felt in danger. Both the stylist and I were wearing masks. There was plenty of air flow throughout the room. Everything was sanitized. I got my haircut, tipped generously and left.
Another scenario, same week. My hedgehogs love to eat mealworms and it had been months since I had been to the reptile shop. Upon entry is was clear that a lot of things had changed. Parts of the store were blocked off. There were clear entry and exit lines. No one came within six or ten feet of each other. I got my hedgie treats, said hello to the tortoises and headed out. Everyone there was wearing masks and gloves. It felt very safe.
So, three different scenarios and the only place I felt my child and I were in danger was at the clinic. My chances of contracting something dreadful seemed much higher there than at the salon or the reptile store. I think that is a sad indictment on my clinic.
Why is it so hard for some people to wear a mask? I see it as an act of kindness. Boo or I could be asymptomatic carriers of Covid 19 and not know it. By wearing masks, we are helping protect the more vulnerable in our society; the fragile child in the waiting room, the mom on chemo, the adult with asthma, we are helping protect all of them, simply by wearing a mask. Like everyone else, we want life to return to “normal”. But, what is normal? Maybe this is out new normal, a time and place where we wear masks to protect our fellow human beings. I hear people say that they cannot breathe in a mask. But, the surgeon who fused my spine and made is possible for me to walk again wore a mask for three hours. He wears one every time he operates. The OB/GYN who delivered my babies wore a mask, and I am known for having very long labors! So, that can’t be it. I hear people say that they don’t like the way masks feel. Well, neither did Boo at first, but he got used to it. And, after a while, he forgot that is was on. At this point, for him and me, putting on a mask when we go out is as reflexive as putting on our glasses in the morning, it is just what we do.
I don’t know if people are just tired, or callous, or stupid when it comes to wearing a mask. It seems so little to ask in return for the health and well being of our society. I think of Alissa’s saying every time she leaves us, “Be good humans.” It is not too hard to be a good human, please, wear a mask.