Today I became a firm believer in wearing a mask.
I admit that up until about 5:27 this afternoon I’ve been less than enthusiastic about wearing one. It hasn’t been about “The Man” oppressing my sovereign rights as a ‘Merican. Frankly, my reasons have been way more superficial than that. I look like a dork in one and I don’t want to wear it. When I have decided to wear it, I’ve forgotten where I left it (which is why I don’t buy expensive sunglasses).
But not anymore.
Resolved: I will henceforth always have a mask at the ready and am committed to wearing it in public and other spaces like the office. The reason for my resolved resoluteness is pretty simple.
I don’t want The COVID.
I’ve seen all the statistics, read the conspiracy theories and endless Facebook rants about rights and liberties written with militant, mocking, condescending tones. “Do you even know one person who has COVID?” a friend recently challenged on Facebook. If he had, it is doubtful he’d have been so brash.
I consider myself to be in pretty strong cardiovascular shape. I ride my bicycle about 70 miles a week and go out looking for some pretty tough hills to climb when I do. I don’t beat my neighbor – who is young enough to be my son – to the top of the hills we ride, but I get there. I may sound like a freight train chugging an incline, and I may suck in all the O2 in four counties, but I get there (eventually).
Today I had an ever-so-slight experience with COVID (kind of) and I’m telling you, not only do I not want it, you don’t either.
I’ve developed an allergy to cut grass over the past couple of years, and I can feel it in my lungs if I breathe it in while mowing. That’s why I started wearing a neck gaiter that I double up over my mouth and nose. Normally it works well and I can knock the yard out in about 25 minutes.
But this afternoon was different. Between the heat, humidity and the effort it took to repeatedly push my mower up the slight incline, the gaiter quickly became drenched with sweat. It became increasingly difficult to draw air through the material. My heart rate escalated the more I struggled for oxygen. The more I struggled for oxygen the more rapid my pulse became. This wasn’t like gasping for breath going up hills on a bicycle. I literally could not get sufficient oxygen to my lungs because of the impediment, and the little I was getting required considerable effort.
I began thinking about the people I do know of who are suffering, or who have suffered, with COVID-19. I now understand why they need a respirator to help them breath and the labor it requires to stay alive. I know my lawn experience today doesn’t compare, but it was enough to convince me beyond a shadow of a doubt that I don’t want to catch COVID from somebody who could have prevented it by wearing a mask, and I don’t want to give it to anybody because I didn’t.
Wearing a mask doesn’t mean you’ve acquiesced to a totalitarian regime, or forfeited your rights as an American. It does, however, mean you’ve decided to be a reasonable and responsible member of a larger community who is contributing to the general welfare of others. Let’s take care of each other and let’s start with something easy.
Just wear the mask.