Masks: the return. God DAMN it

Metallica’s “King Nothing” face mask. Available at the Met Store.

Some two months ago, someone left a half-opened pot of mustard in a mini fridge at work. When I went to get some, the pot fell, splattering mustard all over the floor, my shoes, and my face, which was covered by my face mask. I had already been vaccinated some two months before, but I was still using them as a statement –you know, encouraging people to keep wearing them, make guests comfortable… But the mustard splatter was impossible to hide, much less clean at the moment. So I showed my face for the first time in almost a year to the staff and guests of my workplace.

I’m not gonna lie, it felt good. Being able to openly smile with my whole face, not just my eyes, for starters. Yeah, I had fun with all the different masks I had bought, from different sources, different styles, as you can see in my Instagram post below. But now I looked forward to never wearing them again. Feeling safe. But I was still uneasy. And it didn’t help that some of my coworkers –people I genuinely know are caring, hard-working, kind-hearted human beings (unlike some of the turds still currently working there)– refuse to get vaccinated. I of course did not say anything back then, because I truly care for these human beings, however misguided their beliefs are, and I thought they would either learn their lesson one way or the other, or they would simply keep wearing the mask and social-distance themselves until the pandemic is over.

I am so saying something right now.

I look at that post, and any other where I’m goofing around with my masks, and while I still believe in facing adversity with good humor, it starts to make my blood boil. Because there’s a good chance that I’ll have to wear them again, vaccinated or not. Heck, I even know when I do have to wear them: at my kid’s eye doctor appointment, in a couple of weeks. And it’s getting bigger. The Disney theme parks, Y.’s employer, already are once again requiring that you wear a mask indoors, both in Florida and in California. Google and Facebook just announced to their employees that, if you want to come back to the office, you have to get the shot. And as I write this, President Joe Biden told all federal employees to either get the vaccine or face constant testing or wearing masks indoors, plus suggesting states to offer vaccine incentives.

And why? Delta. The new COVID-19 variant is more contagious and in some cases deadlier. And guess what, it’s taking its toll, as now almost all emergency room cases are people with no vaccine. It even forced Alabama’s Republican governor, Kay Ivey, to say that “it’s time to blame the unvaccinated” for the astounding 400 percent surge in cases in the state.

Oh and blame I do. It’s this raging individualism with which this country has grown up that has me fed up. “Home of the free, land of the brave”, says the beautiful national anthem. But too many take that freedom to the extreme. We see the videos of the idiots refusing to mask up because they think it’s a political maneuver, a way to control the population, and many times we just laugh and ridicule them, as well we should. But it is selfishness in so many cases, and I’m sorry to say this to my friends who refuse to vaccinate, but it is killing us. This article in The Week from last year brought it home for me:

…The most fervent, dedicated, and effective political mobilization in this country is organized around stopping the government from saving the lives of its citizens.

Ryan Cooper, journalist, national correspondent for TheWeek.com

Too many Americans –and not just Americans, mind you– firmly believe that they and only they are supposed to know what to do where and however they want it. Who cares is placing a piece of clothing over your face can actually save lives. Who cares if getting a vaccine will protect not only you, but others around you. And what boils my blood is, that group, the ones that haven’t been vaccinated yet, only represents thirty percent of the population. Three in ten. And those three are the ones that are making this pandemic drag on and on. Ezra Klein said it in The New York Times best.

Persuasion is by no means impossible or unimportant, but on electric topics, it is a marginal phenomenon. (…) The conventional wisdom is that there is some argument, yet unmade and perhaps undiscovered, that will change the minds of the roughly 30 percent of American adults who haven’t gotten at least one dose. There probably isn’t.

Ezra Klein, The New York Times

Of that 30%, 15% have said they will not get the vaccine unless forced. Not even after reading this testimonial from a doctor who has seen dozens of young people dying of COVID? No? Only if forced? Oh really? Ok, fine. I say force them.

Let me be absolutely clear on this. I hate dictatorships. I hate any government that does anything beyond what it needs to do –that is, prevent monopolies, make laws, regulate, and the such–. I come from a country where anything that wasn’t approved by the regime was either very difficult or downright impossible. That is truly living without freedom. That is something I refuse to see happen in the United States. And I know the origin of all this. China is the main responsible for all this mess, for their lies and their poor handling in the beginning. And that is a fact. Who cares whether this was from a market or from a lab, if China had alerted the world earlier and handled this differently from the beginning, I’m pretty sure we’d have another story entirely.

But given the stubbornness of the thirty percent, I again quote Ezra Klein to what needs to be done.

If policymakers want to change their minds, they have to change their calculations by raising the costs of remaining unvaccinated, the benefits of getting vaccinated or both. If they can’t do that, or won’t, the vaccination effort will most likely remain stuck — at least until a variant wreaks sufficient carnage to change the calculus.

Ezra Klein, The New York Times

And I don’t want to wait for “sufficient carnage”. I say bring on the vaccine mandates. I’m sorry for my friends who have refused to get the vaccine for any reason. But I do not want to be locked up again, I do not want to have anyone I know die. I’ll be pissed if I have to wear a mask to work again, and I know who I’m going to blame. And trust me, it can get bad, here in Florida. Especially considering how our governor feels about the whole damn thing. Ron DeSantis reiterated his position at a conference held by the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, quoted by Politico.

It is very important that we say unequivocally ‘no’ to lockdowns, ‘no’ to school closures, ‘no’ to restrictions and ‘no’ to mandates.

Ron DeSantis, Florida governor

Thankfully but sadly, many Florida lawmakers, mayors, schools, and businesses are saying “screw you” to DeSantis. I’m just waiting for private businesses to do the same. And what does that mean? That means that we are about to not be able to go to a bookstore, to a restaurant, to the movies (to the freaking MOVIES!!!), just because you refuse to get the vaccine.

I just bought the mask you see above. I intend to wear it as soon as they require me to mask up again. I am going to make sure that people see aggression on that first day. It will be useless, particularly considering that I need to be charming at work, and I know the responsibility I have for people trying to simply get out, trying to have a good time. But this is getting harder to do every day. Not only do shit people walk through that door every now and then, and there are shit people working with me, but there are people that through either ignorance, misinformation, fear, or plain stupidity that are forcing this miserable pandemic to keep on and on.

I truly want to apologize to the people I mentioned before that refuse to get the vaccine. Because I truly care for you. But I’m sorry, also, that you are part of the problem. And I wish you could see it. Because at this point, the world is going to force you to get it, or make life stop for everyone. And barring shooting people from a helicopter like wolves or deer, there is no other way to stop this pandemic. And I think we all want it over, right?

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