Posted in A Moment in My Life

“Mask Up!”

A Moment in My Life – Wednesday, August 19, 2020

The other day, a surprise came in the mail—a Bird of Paradise mask from my dear friends, Carol and Kyle. I had forgotten that in a conversation I mentioned to them I love Bird of Paradise, but they didn’t forget. They saw this mask and thought of me. I’ve been blessed with people thinking of me with the perfect masks. A couple of months back, I received my first surprise mask gift. My older sister began making masks and sent me an assortment of purple ones.

I used to think it was weird seeing perfectly healthy-looking young people wearing medical masks in their everyday routines. I would never have suspected that mask-wearing would become our way of life. At the beginning of SiP, masks, in general, were hard to come by, let alone fancy, statement-making personalize ones. When it was determined necessary to wear a mask, I obliged. I disliked it. It was cumbersome. It distorted my movement and my view, but if it keeps us safe, then let me have it. It’s weird how a little thing like a mask on your face could change your outlook tremendously.

On that note, I remember going to Safeway in Millbrae one afternoon when social distancing began. It was during the early stages of learning more about Covid-19. Every day we were adding more rules to the social distancing protocols. I was still dancing around people treating everyone like they were a weapon to my destruction. I wouldn’t be out of my house if I could’ve avoided it. You can imagine how nervous I was when this stranger approached me in the store and struck up a conversation. The day before, I had just learned that being near someone for longer than 15 minutes was risky. As he talked on and on, I moved my body farther away from him, keeping the length of my shopping cart between us. He was totally amicable and chatty. I was totally freaking out. We both wore masks. I was also wearing gloves, but I wasn’t feeling brave. God gave me a second chance to live last year, and I wasn’t going to squander it. Without being rude, I excused myself with, “Well, nice chatting with you. I’ll let you get your shopping done. Have a nice day!” and I left.

A little while later, the same man pulled up next to me at the back of the store and continued yakking away as if we were old friends. Again, I positioned my cart between us. He didn’t seem to get the 6 feet apart rule. Granted, it was new, and we were beginning to acclimate to it, but I was uncomfortable with him standing so close to me. 

Had it been another time before Covid-19, I probably would’ve welcomed his friendliness and enjoyed getting to know him. Wait. Come to think of it, before Covid-19, nobody did that—strike up a long conversation with me in a supermarket! It was almost as if the mask gave him confidence. I don’t know. I make up what I don’t know. 

This incident made me think of all those drivers who would cut you off with their cars because they were inside their vehicles, but they wouldn’t think to cut you off in line without their mask, i.e., their vehicle. The same thing with this stranger, I guess. We couldn’t see each other’s faces, and that provided some sort of security? I could be all wrong. He might have just been a super-duper friendly man. Maybe, more likely, he was starved for social interaction? I don’t know. I wasn’t rude or nasty to him. I engaged in chatting with him as best as possible while keeping socially distanced from him, but he had the gift to gab. First chance I got; I said my goodbyes, again. I felt terrible, but that day was just not the right time or place for socializing. I had already stood in line outside to get in, and there was a line to check out. I honestly wanted to grab what I came for and get out of Dodge without catching any germs.

I’ve always been friendly to people I see along the way but in a subtle way. I make eye contact and smile, but I generally don’t engage in conversation or anything extroverted. One of the drawbacks of wearing a mask is that people can’t see me smile at them. I complained to a friend about that, and she, being the extreme extrovert, said, “Just say HI!” in her jolly loud genuineness. That wasn’t going to work for me, but you know, the mask does give you confidence. I found myself waving at people as my greeting of choice now. You know what? They wave back!

Wearing a mask, especially a pretty Bird of Paradise one or a beautiful purple one, isn’t so bad. If it serves the purpose, then let’s Mask Up! 💜

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