The magic of a mask

Baby Yoda wearing a mask
Baby Yoda wearing a mask

People not keeping their distance? They aren’t doing it as much as they should, from what I’ve seen. I dunno if it’s just all new to people, or if they just really don’t get the importance of social distancing, but for whatever reason, some people just suck at keeping 6 feet between themselves and others. And they’re not covering their coughs. They’re not being smart, or safe.

That’s much more stressful for me, than the existence of the virus, itself. ‘Cause on its own, the virus is just a virus. It needs people to spread. And they’re happy to oblige.

I’m over it. So, rather than relying others to use the sense that God gave ’em (tho’ it’s debatable in some cases if that even happened), I’m doing my “Magic Mask” trick. All I have to do, is pull on a procedural mask and venture out.

And people keep their distance. Woo hoo.

I figured this out about 8 years ago, when I worked for a company headquartered in Paris. Every new year, I’d have to make a number of trips over to France to meet my new boss(es). The company liked to re-org on an annual basis, which meant that in January I’d have someone new to meet – and they wanted to meet in person. Of course they did. 😐

Sometimes I’d make trips in January, February, and March. I think one year, I had two trips in March. It was a lot less fun than it sounds like, just for the record. I generally had to leave 3 weeks between each trip, so they were all crammed in there in the winter. And if you live in a climate where those months are full of bad weather, snow, sleet, ice, etc., you probably know what a pain it was to travel during that time.

Not only was the weather awful here, but it was terrible in France, too. So, I had the added stress of needing to keep my house shoveled and de-snowed and de-iced as much as possible… and I had all the French winter weather and germs to deal with.

Big deal, right? Um… yeah, it was a big deal, because you generally don’t develop resistance to germs in other countries, and when you’re traveling long hours on jet lag and less sleep… with longer work days because you have to answer all your danged European and USA emails… and you’re constantly interacting with people who love to make contact, whether it’s kissing on each cheek at the beginning and end of each day, or it’s shaking hands… that’s a whole extra world of hurt you can buy.

And pretty much every trip, I would get sick when I returned. Which is a problem, when the other person in the household get sick as a result, and that person literally can’t afford to be sick. At all. Because then they can’t work. And if they don’t work, they don’t get paid. So, you see the problem.

I had to self-quarantine at least once. Checked myself into a hotel for a few days after returning, so I could get home without bringing stuff straight off the plane.

Now, back in 2012, people just didn’t get why it was a problem to travel like that. What was the big deal? How sick could I get? They hadn’t had the opportunity to deal with this coronavirus business, and they seemed to kind of take for granted that getting sick was no big deal. It was just part of life. (I wonder how they’re feeling now.)

But like I said, for me it was a big deal.

So, I started wearing a mask. I picked up a box of 50 from CVS and took them with me. I wore one on the plane, flying over… and it was magical. Not only did people not crowd me, but the flight attendants were also super deferential. They kept their distance. They didn’t give me crap about whatever they’re trained to give you crap about. I got no attitude. Just a lot of space. And it was glorious.

I did it on the way home, too. Same thing happened. Everybody kept their distance. And I had a very relaxing trip back.

The best thing about it was… I didn’t get sick. I don’t know if I just had more immunity built up, or if I’d done a better job about washing my hands at every opportunity, or if I’d gotten better sleep and eaten better food… or if it was the mask. But bottom line, for once, I did not get sick.

Nowadays, the whole mask thing is a different story. At least, that’s how I understand it. Now, the point of wearing a mask is to protect others from your cough. I don’t have a cough (touch wood), and I have no symptoms of COVID-19. But a mask is still coming in handy. Because I never know what’s out there. And even if I don’t have “corona”, I could still pick something else up… and bring it home to where it can do some serious damage. And – most importantly – because it’s one sure way to keep people at a distance. Seriously, they back away from me and give me plenty of room. Which is truly delightful.

I get some wary looks, of course. And the cashiers at the store were mighty nervous around me. But making other people uncomfortable is a small price to pay for getting some space… some distance… some beloved distance.

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