Adventures in UnMasking

I decided recently to stop wearing a face mask in public.

Let me preface all this by saying that I’m not a martyr to ‘the cause’. I have no real desire to cast sand unnecessarily into the gears. I just don’t want to be compelled to participate in foolishness. Your embrace of stupidity and pseudo-science does not compel me to join you.  I’m just a guy, going about his life, and I really just want to be left alone.

Having said that, a while back I caught the Covid. In fact, my entire family caught it. For a couple of days I had the chills and an annoying cough, and everything tasted terrible. That’s my whole Covid story. No ventilator, no lung scarring. Just a bad case of the flu. My body did what it was designed to do, and repelled the invaders.

Having survived it, I am, according to science, immune to catching it or spreading it for some admittedly indeterminate period of time  I am chock full of antibodies, after all, as evidenced by my survival. I am safe to be around, and I can be around you, even if you are sick. I am therefore, for sound medical reasons, exempt from any reasons to wear a face mask, and I purposed in my heart to deploy every reasonable means at my disposal to live that way.

Of course I set some ground rules for myself. I believe, as a Christian, I am obligated to tell the truth (Romans 12:17), but combating foolishness with foolishness (Prov 26:5) might require me to tell a very specific version of the truth.  I am still refining this technique, by the way. Doctors offices have been extremely problematic, and well as oddly enough, the local Goodwill. And I don’t win them all. But I don’t wear the mask.  So here, submitted for your consideration, here are three very recent examples of living mask-free in public..

Example 1

My wife and I recently celebrated an anniversary, and we got out of town, staying at a nearby luxury hotel. The hotel was thick with signs about masking and distancing, etc etc. I simply ignored them, and endured the accusatory stares of some. Most people really aren’t up for a confrontation, and some even agree with your stand, though they have opted not to take it themselves. I wasn’t confronted about it until the next morning when I went down to get our pathetically sad ( at least compared to pre-Covid ) breakfast from the hotel.

“Sir, you need to put on a face mask” said the lady behind the food counter.

“Actually, I’m medically exempt.” I maintained eye contact, and a casual, but cheerful demeanor.  I am  , after all, not a rabble-rouser, I’m just a guy.  There was a long awkward pause.

“Umm, ok, well, just don’t stand so close to the counter, then.”

See, how hard was that?  I wasn’t boisterous, I wasn’t rude. Everything I said was not only true, but more true that the propaganda plastered on the walls.

Example 2

Having left the hotel, we went to go get some food at a Panda Express. I stood in line with maybe 10 other people, and I was the only one not wearing a mask. A cheerful manager of some sort swung thru the lobby reminding us that masks are required. I ignored her. A few minutes later she came back out and repeated the admonishment. I ignored her.  She came out  with a mask and  told me I had to put it on.

“No I don’t. I’m medically exempt.”

“Yes sir, you do.”

“Aren’t you aware of your own corporate policy regarding medical exemptions?”  Truth be told, this was a bluff on my part. I certainly didn’t know their policy, but the odds were she didn’t either.

“Our policy, sir, is to either send you to the drive-thru or serve you outside if you won’t put on the mask.”

A word here; she isn’t the enemy. She is an  employee that is being paid to enforce stupidity because her corporate paymasters are concerned about their own liability.  But I wasn’t going to wear the mask.  So I left my mask-wearing wife in line to get our food and I waited outside.

Once again, causing a scene is not what I’m after.  And getting the manager in trouble with corporate  isn’t my goal either.

Example 3

From time to time my children coerce me to take them an hour or so away to an ice-skating rink so they can be with some of their friends. Last night was just such a night, and it was the first trip we had made there since my decision to be maskless.  I stood in line ,walking right past mask signs. We got to the little booth and the teenage girl asked “Sir, do you need a mask?”

“No.” No explanation given. I simply answered her very specific question.

“Sir, you’re going to have to put on a mask.”

“I appreciate your concern, but I’m not here to skate. I’m just the transportation, and besides, I’m medically exempt.”  Keep in mind that as I’m saying this, approximately 10% of the skating population is maskless out on the ice, including the employee in charge with watching the skaters.  But the teenage employee opted to call for backup.  While the line grew behind me, I waited for the next round.

“Sir, is there a problem?” Another teenage female.

“No, I was just trying to pay for my kids to go skating, and your coworker  asked me if I needed a mask. I don’t. I’m medically exempt.”  I gestured back to the growing line. “Look, can I just pay, so that I’m not holding up the line and then you and I can discuss this in more detail?”  She let me pay, which is an important win. I am now a paying customer with a receipt to prove it.  We stepped off to the side.

“What is the nature of your exemption?”

“It is medical in nature, and personal.”  An awkard pause, Eye contact, casual, cheerful demeanor.

“Do you have any documentation?”

“Nobody has ever asked me for documentation. What sort of documentation are you looking for?”

“Something that establishes your disability.”  Another quick word here. She used the word ‘disability’, not me.

“Well, I have a government-issued Veterans Adminstration card that  proves I’m a vet with a service-connected disability. Will that do? ” I showed her my card. She looked at it for a few seconds and then went to go get her manager.  By now my kids are on the ice and I’m just running out the clock.

“Sir , is there a problem?” This fellow was presumably the manager. Bigger guy, early 20’s.I rehearsed the entire scenario again, and he assured me that I would have to put on the mask.

“You  mean this company doesn’t have a policy for exemptions?”

“No, sir.”

“You are aware that the Americans With Disability Act requires accommodations for the disabled? I mean I’m not a lawsuit kind of guy, but you might want to recommend the owners think about that.”  Now I know that’s not really germane to the situation, but by now I was just having fun.

“That’s fine, but..” he sighed ” you need to put the mask on.”

“Even though I’m exempt?”

“Yes, sir.”

“I’ll tell you what, man. I know you’re just doing your job, and I’m really not here to cause a ruckus. We drove a long way to get here and I paid to get in, so here’s what I’m going to do for you. I’m going to go stand just outside the rink doors out by the indoor soccer set-up. Now, your rules don’t allow me to leave my kids here unattended, so I’m going to have to come in here from time to time and check on them. I hope that doesn’t cause any problems between me and you.”

He sighed agian “Look, maybe if you just…stood way over there away from the crowd.”

“No, it’s ok. I told you I’d stand outside the rink doors in the lobby, and I will. I’ll sit on one of those benches and read.” I shook his hand, thanked him for his time. He treated to his office, and as far as any onlooking flunkies knew, whatever I did next I was doing with his approval.

I did go into the lobby where a mob of maskless Latinos were holding an indoor soccer game. I also went to the bathroom and wandered around inside. I checked on my kids. About 15 minutes before the rink closed I went inside to make sure everybody could find their shoes. I, in other words, acted and behaved like a free reasonable man.

Reprinted with the author’s permission.

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