Gary Tetz

How are those masks working out for you? You’re loving them, I’ll bet. I know I do. My glasses are as perpetually fogged as a car windshield after prom, and I do enjoy sounding like Charlie Brown’s teacher.

Inside long-term care facilities, masks are the norm and everyone’s pretty much compliant. They have an incentive, of course. They want a job, and for their residents, families and selves not to die. They also have a respect for science and public health expertise that perhaps exceeds the norm these days.

Outside those facility doors, things are a lot dicier for mask observance. Knowing the risks senior care staff and residents face from community spread, a lot of us get riled up at every barefaced human, and the go-to instinct is to view this as a blatant act of intentional selfishness. But maybe we should work to temper that hostility. Not because it’s wrong or undeserved, but because it’s pointless and poisonous.

Calling people out, or even just wanting to, accomplishes nothing. Did you happen to see the Twitter video of the man who, after being publicly shamed for going maskless, responded to his irate accuser, “You know, on further reflection I realize you’re absolutely right. I should be wearing one, and will start right now. I’m very sorry, and thanks for pointing out my mistake.” I didn’t think so, because it doesn’t exist.  

So for our own sanity, let’s exert some personal mind control and flip the perspective. Since wearing a mask is an inherently selfless gesture of concern for others, we could intentionally focus on that positive act. Maybe it becomes a mindfulness practice — we consciously think about exhaling love into the world every time we slip one on, rather than polluting ourselves by breathing in negativity and useless judgment whenever we spot an offender. 

Call it a mini-meditation. Call it a prayer. Call it denial. Call it whatever you want, but it helps. 

Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, a two-time national Silver Medalist and three-time regional Gold and Silver Medal winner in the Association of Business Press Editors (ASBPE) awards program, as well as an Award of Excellence honoree in the recent APEX 2020 Awards. He’s been amusing, inspiring, informing and sometimes befuddling long-term care readers worldwide since the end of a previous century. He is a writer and video producer for Consonus Healthcare Services in Portland, OR.