A masked society

After staying at home for several days, waiting for Husband’s Covid-19 test result, today he finally got his result: negative. It was a relief, obviously, and makes life a lot easier. Already we’d had to rely on our youngsters for help: my daughter went to the store for us, for some immediate need groceries, and my son took Timmy to the vet with an Ace-bite that looked like it was infected. Lucky to have those kids who’re not living with us anymore. Not so lucky that we had to cancel the visit of my step-daughter due to this stuff.

Today, we had groceries to get and pharmacy stuff to do, so when the freeing test result came, off we went to the local mall to take care of our business. I had read in the news only this morning that while the Corona case numbers are soaring and restrictions have been set in order to diminish the crowds, people are actually flocking to the stores in bigger crowds than since this pandemic shit started. We noticed. Even the pharmacy was packed.

This holiday season is a difficult time for people to stay at home. They want to go Christmas shopping and stuffs, but still that really doesn’t explain the rush into the pharmacy, grocery store, or coffee shop. Not at a local little mall anyway, where the only businesses besides the aforementioned are basically a liquor store, couple of small boutiques, a bookstore, a pet equipments store, and a couple of hair salons. Hardly your place for Christmas gift shopping!

I was puzzled, but then again, I was there too. Maybe it was just this collective moment where everybody and their dog (erhm, we had Ace with us too) decided to go take care of some very mundane stuffs at the same moment. Go figure.

The one thing I did notice was the masks. Half a year ago me and my daughter were the only ones, save one dude, wearing a mask at this same local mall, which actually was way more empty at that point too. Now, while masks are still a recommendation, not an enforced obligation, 90% of the people were wearing one. When the recommendation was given in August, at first only concerning public transportation, it was a mere 10% wearing one.

These are very strange times we live in. A CEO talking to their employees has the background music of a baby crying. Never before. People excuse themselves from online meetings to go let the plummer in or receive a post package. Never before. Babies crying, toddlers fussing, dogs lapping water and barking have suddenly become a regular and normal thing in business meetings. Never before.

And when people go out to public, they wear a mask. Forget any burkha discussions. We’re all hidden behind a mask now and suddenly it’s not an issue anymore. Suddenly an unmasked person is the odd one out.

Masks revealed to me how much I actually rely on reading people’s lips. First time in the metro with a friend after the mask recommendation was given, we sat opposite from each other as usual and I realized I couldn’t hear him in the noisy metro. It hadn’t been an issue before. The only thing that had changed was that he was wearing a mask, and thus I couldn’t see his lips when he was talking.

For me the solution was easy: I simply moved to sit next to my friend with my hearing ear on his side. Many have struggled with this much more than me. At least one of my ears hears well enough that I can tilt my head towards the shop clerk or whoever I need to hear and I’m good. For many others, this is a real issue in a mask wearing society.

However, people have made a whole lot more noise about the smile hiding feature of the mask. That, in my opinion, is not a real issue. It’s more like a blessing. Not that I don’t like to see smiles, or smile a lot myself – I do – but it reveals fake smiles. In my opinion, if a smile is not visible in a person’s eyes, it’s not a real smile at all. Actually, I look at the eyes much more anyway. Lips are secondary in a smile, really. Masks make it impossible to even try to fake smile. No one will see your smile if it doesn’t reach your eyes.

It is interesting how masks have become a part of my attire already. I have a colorful Desigual mask (in the pic above), a simpler black mask, a black Apulanta mask, and a tiger snout mask – all with KN95 filters inside. I choose which mask to wear according to my mood and clothing. It’s become part of my style when in public.

It is also interesting to see how people are kind of devided into three categories when it comes to mask wearing. Those more or less like me, who choose a cloth mask – maybe out of style or maybe just due to eco thinking – and there are thos who wear the simple disposable paper masks – like I occasionally do too, when e.g. just popping downstairs to get food or smtg. while at the office – and those who use KN95/FP3 masks or even gas masks to protect themselves too, not only others – which I actually do too, just hidden inside my stylish cloth masks.

And then there are those who refuse to wear a mask. Due to health issues – not being able to breathe through the mask or something else. Issue may be physical or mental, but an issue all the same. Or due to stupidity issues – Covid-19 still is not real to some. Some people still refuse to acknowldge it as anything more than a “regular flu”. Due to just simple ignorance.

Be as it may, our wolrd has become a masked society, at least for some time still. Vaccination is on its way, but it’ll take some time before it’s destirbuted to everyone and the world can breathe without masks again.

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