The Changing Face of Masks

“Oh damn,” I mumbled to myself when I realized the tap feature hadn’t worked on my debit card. I fumbled with it and inserted it into the card reader instead. The keypad was barely visible through the foggy lenses of my glasses perched on top of my mask. I took a half-blind guess at my PIN and got away with it.

“Moothoo sath a foints garp?” asked the masked checkout clerk.

“Pardon me?” I never realized how much I depend on lip reading.


“Oh! Oh! Yes, yes.” I fumbled through my purse for my wallet again and held up the card for her to scan.


With my groceries haphazardly tossed into bags (Note to self: don’t pack the lettuce on the bottom next time), it was with great relief that I realized my ordeal was nearly over.

All I had to do now was to safely wind my way through the people milling around the other checkout counters, and then I would be out the door and free. Free, free!

Grocery shopping is certainly not the casual, relatively mindless task it used to be. In the past, I automatically knew where everything was and would whip around the aisles with Super Woman confidence. Now, I stress out at every turn. Am I going the right way down the aisle? How am I going to backtrack to get that thing I forgot? Is that lady actually touching ALL of the watermelons? And when I leave the store, you can bet I’ve missed something. Every time.

Safely back in the car, when I can finally remove the mask, it’s such a relief.

Let’s face it, none of us really like the mask. And for me, not only do I have the eyeglass frames around the back of my ears, but I also have hearing aids. There’s a lot of competition for space back there. So when I stretch the elastic of my mask behind my ears, they flop forward like Dumbo. Only not as cute.

In spite of all of that, I made the decision a couple of months ago that I was just going to have to get used to it. I started wearing the mask any time I was indoors somewhere other than my home, because I figured that some day soon it was going to be mandatory in a lot of places anyway. I have one mask that I keep in my car, and one I keep in my purse, so I’m always prepared.

Only a few short months ago, I thought it was odd to see someone in a store with a mask on. “Paranoid!” I’d say to myself with a chuckle. Now I’m more concerned about those who DON’T wear masks. “Cov-idiots!” I grumble, hopefully not too loud.

Masks used to be something you wore at Halloween. Now I’m more spooked if I forget mine. And since masks became mandatory on public transit, I have appointed myself as a member of the Mask Police Force. I will glare at any passenger sitting on a bus without a mask. Anyone who can actually see me through the window, I mean.

In fact, today as I was out on my walk, a transit bus slowly passed by me and I had the opportunity to stare inside of it. There were only two passengers that I could see. The first one was definitely wearing a mask. The second one I had more trouble seeing, so I squinted and peered as much as I could, and then SMACK! I walked into a street sign.

I didn’t make that up.

I had to take a minute and calm myself down. There’s nothing worse than a self-righteous, foggy-lensed, Dumbo-eared mask cop.