Tag Archives: masks

These Regulations Have Teeth


People are weird.

This is a mantra and a truism worth remembering as you navigate the world, because it explains a lot of human behavior. Well, it doesn’t *explain* it, necessarily, or in fact at all, but what it *does* do is it allows you to stop driving yourself crazy searching for a proper explanation for the crazy stuff people do.

I could do a weekly — or in fact, daily — or scratch that, *hourly* post with examples, but sometimes the proper subject just jumps right up and punches you in the teeth.

Which is apparently exactly what an unruly passenger did on a Southwest flight in recent days.

I’m sorry, this is the sort of thing for which there is no excuse that will convince any rational person to side with you. If you’ve been alive in the era after 9/11 (which, if you’re reading this, congratulations, you are), you know that violence on an airplane, of any sort and to any degree, for virtually any reason, is a one-way ticket to being grounded for life, AKA getting blackballed by an airline and possibly incurring federal charges for your trouble. Unless you’re literally fighting off a terrorist, if you go violent on an airplane, you will not be arriving at your destination today.

Yet according to this article, not only did this recent incident happen (a passenger assaulting a flight attendant to the point of knocking out teeth), but incidents like this are widespread. Per the article, in the last year over 2500 incidents of unruly passengers have been reported by airlines, including over 1900 of them over mask mandates.

Look, folks, this is entitlement, pure and simple.

Personal beliefs and conspiracy leanings aside, if the airline has a mask mandate, then the only way to get out of it is by having a doctor’s note or finding another airline. You don’t get a pass because you feel the mask is a limitation on your personal freedom, in the same way you don’t get a pass on a “no shirt, no shoes, no service” sign, or a pass on paying the toll for the express turnpike, or even a pass through your high school geometry class just for showing up. The mask is part of the price of admission in this exchange.

Being asked to wear a mask in this situation does not impinge on your freedom, is not a violation of your constitutional rights, is not the tyranny of the woke left. It’s a public health measure. And your willful refusal to comply bespeaks, among other things, an utter disregard for the wellbeing of all the humans in your vicinity, to say nothing of your willingness to embrace repeatedly-disproven conspiracy theories.

Listen, I hate wearing masks as much as anybody, for purely selfish reasons. They’re a bit uncomfortable, certainly in the summer months they make my face too hot, and they make communication a little more difficult — in that some people speak softly to begin with and they can muffle your voice, and they remove the vital element of facial expressions from our social interactions.

But none of that is worth throwing a fit over being asked to wear a mask. And none of that comes anywhere close to worth throwing fists and getting escorted (read: arrested) off a plane.

Then again, if you feel that strongly about the masks in the first place, maybe you’re just hoping somebody calls you on it so you can fire up some righteous indignation and maybe earn yourself 15 minutes of fame as the latest oppressed patriot on Fox News.

Which might be nice.

But you still won’t be flying again anytime soon.


What Will We Forget?


I wonder what’s going to stick with us after this is all said and done.

I mean, COVID is not going away. It spread too far, it’s in the ecosystem now, it’s mutating… it’s going to be with us basically forever. We’ll get better at mitigating and treating it, no doubt. And the vaccine will allow us to return to something like normal. And I imagine that “normal” will look pretty much like “normal” before COVID, with the exception that a lot more people will die during cold and flu season. That will be the new normal.

But it shouldn’t be, right? I mean, you look at a disaster like 9/11, and “normal” after that day was a pretty far cry from “normal” before. Society made some lasting changes as a result. Airports, to say the absolute least, have never been the same. (I remember, when I was in high school, on a boring summer day, driving to Atlanta Hartsfield airport and just playing around there all day. Roaming the terminals, getting lunch at the restaurants, riding the automated sidewalks and trams around. What a great day that was. Also? There is *so much* art and other neat stuff on display in airports, and the average person probably has occasion and access to see so little of it. One of the great invisible losses. Anyway…)

And, not to belabor a point that’s been made here and many other places, but the loss we’ve incurred from the pandemic absolutely dwarfs the horrific losses of 9/11. We’re over the half a million mark, and still going. That’s very quickly going to become 200 times as many people dead of COVID as died on 9/11.

200 times worse. There’s really no way to grapple with that.

So what will stick with us, and what will fade into “can you believe that happened” territory?

In particular, I fixate on masks. Probably because they’re the most visible sign that something is amiss in our world, and also, there was that whole thing where they became this ridiculous political symbol here in America. But we’ve learned, haven’t we, that masks are an easy way to mitigate the spread of not just COVID, but many airborne diseases, right? So will it become a normal thing to wear a mask in cold and flu season if you’re feeling symptoms?

Or how about taking a day off work? We so rarely take days off from work for the most part here, and people in my profession (teachers) are especially guilty. (In my own case, unless I’m well and truly impaired by whatever’s ailing me, I would rather go to work and suffer than deal with missing a day of school. Getting a sub, making lesson plans, dealing with discipline issues that come up because kids are awful to subs… it’s a whole hassle.) Will we relax a little bit about missing a day at the office in the interest of public health?

What will we learn, and what will we forget?


Behind the Mask


Masks are like, so hot right now (or I guess, depending on your circles, anti-hot).

I’m one of those ultra-cautious types wearing one almost everywhere, which is to say I wear it at work, and I wear it to the store, and that’s just about it because I’m not going anywhere else (seriously, you should still be staying at home if you can). So I’m wearing it a lot. And because I teach theatre, I’m sort of professionally interested in the things we do with our faces.

And I have caught myself smiling behind my mask more often than I would think I might. Which strikes me as odd, because in normal times, I smile all the time: that tight-lipped, not-quite-full smile (as JoCo would say, “the kind that doesn’t come with teeth”).

The fake smile, in other words. Which is, of course, my mask in non-mask wearing times: the chipper, friendly-but-not-too-friendly grin.

But when I smile behind my mask — and again, I’m doing this more and more often — it’s not the fake smile. Why would I need to fake it? Nobody can see it.

Strange how wearing the mask makes me — comfortable, I guess? — enough to show emotions, even though it covers those emotions up.


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