It’s strange to think that the fate of the nation hinges on a few square inches of cloth. Stranger still to think of the high-pitched controversy surrounding a thing whose only reason for being is to prevent you from dying.
But here we are, precariously poised in the kind of fraught moment only Donald Trump could create. A political fight — literally to the death — over masks.
Have you been in a store lately, where at least one person was not wearing a mask? Have you felt the helplessness, as visceral as it is corrosive? Have you felt the fury come over you till you’re shaking?
This is mask rage, the completely understandable urge to inflict blunt-force trauma on a person so belligerently bare-faced, they would sashay into a store, engage in aerosolized repartee with someone equally arrogant, and leave everyone else in the store speechless with anger.
Why these bare faces are so determined to risk not just their own lives, but mine as well, is as air-headed as it is terrifying.
I, for one, would not care to be punched in the face by some brain-dead fool who wants to believe I’m infringing on some sort of right. So I stand as far away as I can. Or I leave the store. In either case I seethe.
You can’t take it out on the manager or the sales staff, either. They’re not bouncers. They’re overworked, underpaid, and deeply frightened of infection. And they don’t want to be punched in the face either.
Eighty percent of Americans are on board with masks. The other twenty percent have to be considered dangerous. They’re morally and intellectually toxic. Approach them as you would a rattlesnake. Especially in an open carry state.
This has made me unusually agitated of late, especially as I watch Covid cases spike so insanely. I am trying to think up safe but effective ways to confront, shame, or otherwise get these jerks out of the store.
For example: When a bare face gets too close to you, pretend you’re having trouble breathing. If that doesn’t move him away, say something like “I’m so sorry, but I think I have a fever and I have to take my mask off. Could you help me?” That should do it.
We also have to use our cameras. Admittedly, it’s hard to take a video unobtrusively, and the target could get nasty. And a video without an identification of the bare face would be of limited use.
But what if a few of your fellow customers all took the same video? Ask them. Are they as pissed as you are? On the count of three, everybody shoot.
The target then has to make a choice. She can act like even more of a jerk, which will be nicely preserved on video for sharing with the media and law enforcement. Or she can slink away, back to her crypt.
I’ve also mused on the idea of roving teams — three or four masked crusaders — going into the stores, waiting for the inevitable bare faces, putting them on video, and posting to a social media site filled with similar fools.
But the most drastic idea might also be the most effective. The retailer simply locks the door. Nobody gets in without a mask. Anyone who wants to get in without one goes on video. If he insists on being a jerk, the cops are called, and the video serves as evidence.
How weird is it that we now have to think about these things? We’re up to 65,000 new Covid cases every day, with an untold number of those directly attributable to presidential treachery. How many lives could have been saved by a few square inches of cloth?
It would be so easy for Trump to reprogram his worshippers to wear a goddamn mask. But that’s not going to happen. He’d rather see them die. I know the feeling.