During the pandemic I’ve come to be more of a homebody than ever before in my adult life. When I get out, it’s usually for something work related, a quick visit with family or a brief outing to a store to get something we can’t order over the Internet or pick-up curbside.
It’s a boring life, but relatively safe. The funny part is when I am out and around people, I notice how things have changed in the past eight months.
Masks are one of the biggest changes in 2020. We started out with the paper surgical masks, the very ones I was already using in crowds and during flu season because I’m a transplant patient.
When I was first told by my doctors to wear a mask when there were heightened risks to my health, I always hated being the guy in the mask. Kids would point and ask their parents questions. A lot of people worried I was contagious when I had a mask on and would ask, “should I keep away?”
My funniest experience of wearing a mask pre-COVID was walking into the bank right after my surgery and wondering why the bank tellers were giving me questioning looks as I walked up to them. It wasn’t until after I left the bank that it dawned on me that masks and banks have never been a real great combination.
My biggest gripe about wearing a mask pre-coronavirus was they looked so plain, so sterile and surgical (I guess because that’s what they were intended for). I always wanted a “cool” face covering. With the onset of COVID-19, people had to start wearing masks and they evolved into accessories we now wear with our clothing. Today, all of mine are black, which was something I wanted back when I received my transplant.
It’s interesting to see how people carry and store their masks. After seeing other people’s masks in their cars, I started hanging one or two from the directional switch on the steering column of my car, so I have one when needed. I’ve found it beats shoving them into a console or a cubbyhole in the dash of the car.
Some people will hang one loop of the mask from an ear when they are walking to or from a store. I guess that makes it readily available when you have to put it on. I’ve seen other people put it down under their chin so they can put it on properly in the blink of an eye.
I like it when I go out to a meeting or event and I have my mask on and people who I know walk right by me and don’t recognize me. One person said, “I’m having to learn how to identify people by their eyes.”
Admittedly, I’ve found myself uncertain about the identity of people when I see them masked. I’ve walked right by people I knew because they were wearing a face covering and I didn’t recognize them – only to have them call out my name when I pass by.
“Didn’t you see me?” I’ve been asked. “Didn’t know it was you!” I’ve replied, then pointing to my face. “It must be the mask.”
It also works if you’re trying to avoid someone.
Masks are also good if you want to mumble something under your breath about other people, but you don’t want them to read your lips. I find it’s also good if I want to talk to myself in public or sing-along with the store soundtrack.
While we may have adapted to many of the changes brought about by COVID- 19 I, for one, will be glad when the day comes that we no longer have to practice wearing face-coverings and social distancing. In the meantime, at least, we’ll continue to adjust and make the best out of the curve balls the pandemic throws at us.
Gary Gould is the managing editor of the Genesee County View. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org