The other day I entered a convenience store to get something. On my way into the store I passed a very large sign stating that “Masks Are Required.” There was a little more information, and it was classy looking. Since the emergence of the novel Coronavirus, I’ve worked hard to “in”-frequent stores and public places in general. I am pleased to say that my family has taken the “Stay Home: Stay Safe” suggestions quite seriously.
Anytime that I’ve had to venture out, however, I’ve donned my comfortable, large, extremely obnoxious painters’ mask.
In the beginning, I was under the impression that wearing a mask would help keep me safe from contracting the virus from others. My mask is a respirator, containing charcoal filters and a one way exhaust valve. When I wear it, I breathe clean, filtered air, and the breath that I exhale leaves the mask, completely. I’ve had this for years, having used it when painting with products that have harmful fumes. I can prime a tiny powder room with stinky oil primer and never smell a thing… until I remove my mask!
Although I originally felt rather ridiculous sporting this gigantic device in public, I cherish my health and wanted to protect my family the best I could. Surprisingly, my mask didn’t seem to attract as much attention as I thought it would, or at least very few people bothered to say anything. I caught double-takes and whispers here and there, and from time to time a fellow patron of a store might comment on the thoroughness of my face-covering, but everyone had masks on, so no big deal. It was like wearing bell bottoms in a crowd of pants-wearing people.
Over time I’ve come to learn that wearing a mask is most helpful in preventing other people from contracting the novel Coronavirus. More than it protecting the wearer, the concerted effort of everyone covering their faces would control the spread of respiratory particles (aerosols) that infect people with the virus.
When I entered the convenience store the other day, I saw a variety of masks; None quite as obnoxiously as mine. A gentleman and what appeared to be his mother seemed pretty impressed with my thorough face covering.
Having recently donned a dark cloth mask when out in public with my wife, who was not as keen on my sporting an obnoxious respirator, I could succinctly contrast the two styles of mask. My respirator is roomy, and therefore cool. Because it allows air to actually leave the breathing space, I am not recycling my breath the way one might with a paper or cloth covering. The admiring couple asked about where to get one. I told them that I’ve had it for years, but you can get them from most home repair supply stores or paint stores. I admitted that they are expensive, and the couple suggested that it seemed like a good investment, since we are probably going to be wearing these things for a long time.
It dawned on me that the three of us, discussing face covering, were protecting each other from ourselves. I was not shielding my lungs from others, as much as I was keeping my aerosols from the public air that others were breathing. I commented on this. Then we discussed the idea of my crazy mask representing just how serious I am taking the “Let’s all work together to defeat COVID-19” policy of face covering. I confessed that I probably look like a weirdo. The classy couple made me feel nice when they affirmed my intentions of simply keeping others safe. They also respected the fact that I did not care what I looked like.
In conclusion, regardless of what it feels like, looks like; How annoying it is to remember and drag around… Masks may make it difficult to hear voices, see facial expressions. Wearing a mask is classy, because looking out for others, helping people stay healthy is classy. As crazy as I look wearing my obnoxious painters’ mask, that is how serious I am about ending the spread of COVID-19. How serious are you?