A Masked Anecdote

I don’t always succeed at looking the other way or being the person I should be. Being thinner and having more confidence brings unexpected problems. I also tend to sometimes follow a thread or story just because I’m curious. Not because I have an agenda.

Today, I was at a business drinking a double shot of espresso. Obviously, I had to pull my mask down for a second. Espresso via a straw is lunacy.

No other person was within 20 feet of me. It’s important to note that several people in the facility had no masks, wore their masks improperly, and some were employees of the facility. I’ve had both covid shots. I also tend to tune out paying attention to those who don’t wear their masks or wear them properly. A couple of weeks ago, at Walmart, a man got furious at me, because he was obviously spoiling for a fight about not wearing a mask. I had not even noticed he didn’t have one on when I acknowledged him and said hello. He was looking for a fight.

Part of the social contract during the pandemic is to avoid being a maskhole in either direction. Truthfully, the safest course of action is to avoid going out. Engaging with those who don’t wear masks is a fool’s errand that will fill your day with argument and stress.

I don’t do it. And though it’s been that way for me for a while, I usually fail to notice whether someone has a mask on or not.

As I pulled my mask down to finish my espresso, an employee approached me. I made eye contact with her. And said hello. To my surprise, she shouted, “Sir pull your mask up!” Which I was already doing as she shouted. Keep in mind that she walked past several people making no attempt whatsoever to wear their masks or wear them properly.

Suspecting she was having a bad day, and also suspecting that me making eye contact is what pissed her off, I locked eyes with her as she passed and shook my head laughing at her. Which really pissed her off more. She wisely kept walking. Also, I was seated. Had she followed her own trajectory, she would not have violated social distancing.

Walking around, I observed people and realized more people than I thought weren’t wearing masks properly. Especially employees. Then I noticed the pissy employee who shouted at me was standing there with her mask down talking a foot away from another employee. I walked up within 10 feet and said excuse me. And then reminded both employees that social distancing and proper mask etiquette were required at all times without exception for employees at the facility. And that hypocrisy was not a good color for an employee to be displaying openly. I smiled, wished them both a good day and walked away. Laughing, of course.

One of the employees cursed at me and called me a son of a b****. I won’t argue the veracity of that. My mom was guilty of the charge. I turned and gave them the thumbs up and walked away.

I know walking up and being smarmy and snarky like that wasn’t the right thing to do. But I also know it wasn’t the wrong thing. And if it results in both employees not being assholes to the people they’re supposed to be helping, my transgression is certainly lesser than theirs.

After observing several other employees engage in similar behaviour, I went and asked to speak to the customer service manager. The employee did not want to help me. I told her I would wait as long as necessary and to not stress. She tried to do everything she could to encourage me to bug off or to explain to her what the issue was.

She looked even more confused when I explained to her that in the interest of time and efficiency for both the business and myself, it would be easier to proceed without needless repetition. I thanked her.

The purported manager approached. I showed her my covid vaccine card and ID and explained what happened.

I tried to avoid identifying the employee. And I certainly did not tell her that they had cursed at me. I wanted her to know that employees were sending mixed messages and causing anger issues needlessly.

She was perplexed when I told her honestly that I was talking to her only to see what her genuine reaction was. While standing there, I got more and more amused my how she was staring at my awesome women’s floral jacket. Her body language and demeanor told me she didn’t care about what I was saying.

And that’s okay. Customer service is a thankless job.

I told her that the objective of me talking to her, other than to observe a reaction, was to remind her that the rules are there to be enforced or not. But to watch out for hypocrisy.

I don’t know what my demeanor was saying to her, but she finally asked me, “Who are you?”

I told her I could be anybody from anywhere. But most importantly that I’m a human being with human reactions. And that employees are no different than customers in a world where we’re all equals. And to be kind, attentive, and happy.

I left her scratching her head. She thought I was somebody, so to speak.

I’m writing this post on my phone. I know I’m probably not capturing the nuance or communicating my points clearly.

All this started simply because I made eye contact with an employee. That’s weird. Weirder than my awesome floral jacket.

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