Archive for June 29th, 2020

Service of How to Speak Up–or Should We?

Monday, June 29th, 2020

Photo: cbs8.com

I didn’t say a word when years ago a man lit a cigarette in the subway as the train headed into the tunnel between Brooklyn and Manhattan. I thought about asking him politely not to smoke and wondered “What if the train stopped for an extended period and the little air we share in the car is poisoned by his smoke?” I was afraid he’d attack me and I’d have nowhere to run and escape.

Today it’s about masks. I wrote about them on May 14th in “Service of Symbols III.” Since then NY Governor Cuomo had a contest for the best video to promote their use and immunologist Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and other authorities repeatedly tout their impact on slowing down the spread of Covid-19.

Nothing seems to drive home their purpose with some. A New York Times article by Margot Sanger-Katz “On Coronavirus, Americans Still Trust the Experts” explains what’s going on. She reported: “In the Times survey, 84 percent of voters said they trusted medical scientists to provide reliable information about the virus, with 90 percent of Democrats and 75 percent of Republicans trusting the experts. Overall trust in the C.D.C. was 77 percent — 71 percent among Republicans and 83 percent among Democrats.”

Photo: abcnews.go.com

Gregory A. Poland, MD told the audience on a WOR 710 NY radio program last week that a man yelled at him for wearing a mask when he was out walking with his wife. Poland knows more than most about why he wears one. He is director of the Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group and editor-in-chief of the medical journal Vaccine. He didn’t engage the aggressor who didn’t know who he was harassing.

Most stores post signs asking visitors to wear masks but there are no laws about it. It’s up to the retail staff–even youngsters with summer jobs–to reprimand and confront potential customers and ask the mask-less to return with a mask on.

A friend who owns a business in the suburbs said a man came inside last week, stopped, said, “Oh my–I forgot my mask in the car,” raced out and returned. That can happen.

Often the omission is aggressive and deliberate. A NYC radio talk show host boasted that he’s deep-sixed his mask and nevertheless enters the small shops in his Manhattan neighborhood and nobody stops him. He’s tired of wearing one. He’s not alone. It’s not enough that these people imperil the health of others, I’ve read that some punch mask-wearers.

Photo: youtuebe.com

Anecdotal information from friends who live in or are visiting New England tourist destinations report streets crowded with vacationers gleeful to be freed from sheltering at home. Many left behind their facial protection and social distancing awareness. Shops with seasonal business that are starved for sales employ staff who, like most sane people, are fearful of getting sick. They are especially stressed when potential customers pass right by mask signs and enter with exposed nose and mouth.

Does a business that wants to protect its staff need to hire a six foot 200 pound guard? If you worked in a restaurant, shop, hair styling salon, barbershop or any business that welcomes outsiders how would you ask patrons to put on a mask or would you grin and bear it?

Would a request to put on a mask on a recording in well recognized, respected voices that employees could easily and invisibly engage when someone enters without a mask help avoid confrontation?

If you are a customer trapped in an establishment and someone enters without a mask, do you speak up? What do you say?

Photo: twitter.com

 

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