No, I will NOT remove my mask

Until COVID-19 vaccines are largely embraced, the face mask stays in place

Shamontiel L. Vaughn
Apr 28 · 6 min read
Photo credit: Charlotte May/Unsplash

Tucker Carlson is not someone I respect nor listen to. So recent news of him telling people to call the police or Child Protective Services every time they see children wearing masks, after comparing it to “beat[ing] a kid in Walmart,” doesn’t phase me. I even shrugged my shoulders when California council member Jessica Alexander compared her anti-mask stance to Rosa Parks refusing to sit on the back of the bus. Idiots are going to be affiliated with idiocy; it’s on brand.

What worries me is people I actually know in real life who act like COVID-19 is a figment of my imagination. It’s my I’m-not-racist-but-racist neighbor who didn’t want to mess up her makeup and yelled at her father for putting masks on her own kids, claiming they “can’t breathe” and “masks don’t work.” (Fun fact: She works for a health insurance company, which now makes me skeptical of all Customer Service reps.)

What worries me is a buddy (from afar) I spoke to last week — whose daughter is a nurse — and told me she “knows who has COVID” and can just “see who is sick by asking them.” When I told her about the 31,924,610 people who have been infected by coronavirus and 569,771 have died, she told me, “Scorpios don’t get COVID-19.” I didn’t even know how to respond to that nor should any astrologist or horoscope writer.

What worries me is my next-door neighbor who complains every single time I go out of my back door, about everything from icicles on one of our condo windows (two months ago) to a grease stain on the cement. Meanwhile, she’s chain-smoking cigarettes and flinging them on our property. Litter is apparently OK, but non-sparkling-clean cement is where she draws the line. At some point, she’s going to catch me on the wrong day and I’m going to tell her, “Keep that energy when it comes to your lungs.”

To no one’s surprise, I’ve never seen the latter two people wearing a mask throughout 2020 or now. And the first one refuses to get a vaccine because it’s “political.” I must admit that the “buddy’s” views on COVID-19 bother me far more than the other two. I really wish I could get through to her.

Photo credit: LittPro Inc/Unsplash

The first time I was asked to remove my mask

I’d walked into Byline Bank to handle a checking account transition this past weekend. While I’d prepared myself with meeting minutes, signatures, ID, credit cards and everything else needed to prove my status, what I was not prepared for was a bank teller yelling in my direction, “Can you slide your mask down?”

I didn’t waste any time before saying, “No.” She asked again behind the plexiglass, and I just stared at her, pondering on how many times she was going to ask me this before I finally cursed her out for asking me stupid questions. I looked toward the door. Throughout 2020 and 2021, banks (and other essential businesses) had been posting signs up regarding face mask safety. I noticed this one didn’t. I hooked my index and middle finger inside of my mask, showed the grimace on my face, and immediately put the mask back over my nose. She nodded and walked away. Shortly after, I asked a manager why Byline Bank was asking people to remove their masks. His response, “We’re a federal building, so we need to see your face.”

I raised an eyebrow, wondering if the Chase Bank directly across the street was aware they were a federal building, too. I had been walking in and out of that particular bank throughout all of 2020 and this year, sometimes multiple times a week. Not one person inside ever asked me to remove or slide my mask down.

CDC is making the face mask stance harder … and easier

Although I’ve gotten one of two vaccine shots so far and finally gave in to my yearlong fear (and three-time cancellation) of dental cleaning visits, I’m still not altogether thrilled about my upcoming appointment. A dental office is the one place where you are required to take your mask off in order for everyone to do their job. But after one of two vaccines — and the CDC breaking down indoor activities and outdoor activities that people can do — I’m finally giving in to getting my teeth cleaned.

But I’m still confused by why unvaccinated people are “safe” to walk, run or bike outdoors; or attend small, outdoor activities with family that are vaccinated and unvaccinated. I’m perplexed by why dining at outdoor restaurants for unvaccinated people is “less safe” while attending a crowded concert, parade or sports event is “least safe.” With entirely too many people who believe their makeup and astrology signs are priorities over their health, and those who care more about a piece of cement versus internal organs, I can only come to one conclusion: If you don’t care about your health, you definitely do not give a damn about mine.

Photo credit: Uriel Mont/Unsplash

While I do understand that vaccinations are making it easier for people to get back to life per usual — and I’ve been guilty of going masked-up to hang out with my parents at an indoor restaurant on two separate occasions — there were still rules I followed over the past year. I avoided both of them on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day because I had no clue if I was a carrier. I made them take my temperature from the porch. I leaped up each time they walked toward their front or back door without a mask on. It got to the point where my father nicknamed me “the COVID Police.” As Redman would say, “I’ll bee dat.”

And I kept a six-foot distance from every single person I encountered, including a steady rotation of contractors who I had no choice but to interact with. I cannot make people care about their own health. It’s impossible for me to do. However, I can care about my own and lead by example. My parents, now fully vaccinated, can do whatever they want. They’re grown. So are all the people mentioned in this post. But until I see a noticeable nosedive in new COVID-19 infection rates (and death rates) and COVID-19 vaccinations be mentioned as commonplace as flu shots, I’ll keep pulling a First Lady Jill Biden, matching my mask with my outfit and going about my day. Don’t ask me to take my mask off. My answer until further notice is “no.”

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We Need to Talk

Often oddball views on family, dating and activism.

Shamontiel L. Vaughn

Written by

Check out her six Medium pubs: BlackTechLogy, Doggone World, Homegrown, I Do See Color, Tickled and We Need to Talk. Visit Shamontiel.com to read about her.

We Need to Talk

Let’s chat about my oddball thoughts on family, relationships and activism — with a dose of comedy, too.

Shamontiel L. Vaughn

Written by

Check out her six Medium pubs: BlackTechLogy, Doggone World, Homegrown, I Do See Color, Tickled and We Need to Talk. Visit Shamontiel.com to read about her.

We Need to Talk

Let’s chat about my oddball thoughts on family, relationships and activism — with a dose of comedy, too.

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