I hate wearing a mask. It is itchy and uncomfortable. Even after a year, I still feel weird talking to people with a mask on. No matter how loud I talk, they can’t seem to hear me. I suppose it’s possible they are pretending to not understand. I know I am.
I hate wearing a mask, but I do it because the medical experts I know and trust say it keeps me and others safe. Seldom in life is the best solution also the most reasonable, and as much as I hate wearing a mask, it is a relatively easy thing for me to do in the fight against COVID-19. I hate wearing a mask and I’m not going to do it one day longer than I need to, but I’m also not going to wear it one day less than I should.
I suppose some people actually like wearing masks, although for the life of me I cannot understand why. There are people who say they will probably wear masks forever. Correction: They actually say “you” will be wearing a mask forever, dragging me into their dystopian future.
I think these must be the same people I see wearing a mask while driving alone in their car. I suppose it is possible this guy just forgot to take off his mask, but there is also the guy I see wearing a mask while riding his bike in the foothills, socially distanced from another living soul by at least 600 feet.
The late great comedian George Carlin wrote about guys like this in his classic “People Who Should Be Phased Out.” The list includes the guy who says “Beep Beep” when walking behind me and “Knock Knock” when entering a room. My personal favorite is the guy who wants to shake my hand, even though we saw each other an hour ago. I’ve seen these guys and they are so funny.
The pandemic may have already “phased out” the guy obsessed with shaking hands, but it has added some new candidates to Carlin’s list. There is the guy who walks through City Creek Canyon, invading people’s personal space to yell at them to put on a mask. There is also the guy who refuses to wear a mask in a local store and when asked politely to comply with store policy and local laws, responds by berating the teenage clerk making minimum wage. I’ve seen these guys, too, and they are not funny at all.
I think most of us look forward to the day we can take off our masks, see each other’s smiling faces, attend a large group gathering again and hug a grandparent without fear. The good news is, that day is in sight. The even better news is that how quickly we arrive there is largely up to us, since the sooner we each get the vaccine, the sooner we can get back to normal.
I hate wearing a mask, but until we reach that light at the end of the tunnel I’ll keep marching forward with my mask on. Recent estimates indicate we will reach herd immunity this summer. I look forward to celebrating our nation’s birth on the Fourth of July by declaring independence from my itchy, uncomfortable mask.
Derek Miller is the president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber.