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This is why I am OK with wearing a mask

I had a random encounter in Walmart a couple weeks ago that was so strange it’s hard to forget about.

As I went in to pick up just a few essentials and get back out — I’ve tried to limit my trips to Walmart to 15 minutes or less if possible during the pandemic — I was about to head toward checkout when a man I didn’t know began walking very close to me.

Forget keeping six feet, this man wasn’t even keeping a foot. We were practically rubbing shoulders. I don’t like people getting super close to me in public in a normal time, much less with a global pandemic going on.

I eventually turned to the man, with my mask covering my mouth and nose, and gave him a puzzled look to hopefully give him a hint that I didn’t care for him being so close to me.

He looked at me, not wearing a mask, and said, “you know that mask don’t do you no good, probably does more harm than good, right?”

I was a little confused at the comment, so I just looked at him for a second before he repeated himself.

My reply was “Well, maybe this mask won’t help anything and if it doesn’t, well no big deal. I just wore it and it didn’t hurt anything. If it does work though, it may just save your life and that would be great, because I love you neighbor.”

The man gave me a strange look and stood in the aisle for a minute as I walked off.

I tell this unusual story because it sums up my philosophy on wearing a mask lately. I know a lot of people are angry that a mask mandate has been put in place in Kentucky, and it seems the anger stems from a variety of angles. Some don’t think the masks work, some think it’s an infringement on the constitution, and some just don’t like wearing them.

Let me be clear here. I don’t like wearing them either. Especially in the summer, they’re not comfortable to wear. As for if they work, I’m not a doctor or a medical professional. I’m a journalist. The professionals I know say they work so I trust their judgment, much in the same way when I go to a medical professional for an illness or issue, I listen to what they have to say.

And while I don’t necessarily like that masks are mandated, I wish people would wear them on their own accord but it’s clear that won’t happen, and the Constitution doesn’t mention masks anywhere in it. You have to wear pants to go into a store, but nobody is up in arms about that.

To me, wearing a mask is sacrificing a little bit of my own personal comfort to love my neighbor. I don’t know if the people I encounter in the grocery store have an underlying health issue or someone who is at-risk at home. At the end of the day, I just want to do my part to help us get through this pandemic.

If by me wearing a mask, businesses can keep their doors open and workers can continue to bring home a paycheck, students can go back to school and regain some sense of normalcy, houses of worship can remain open for their congregations, people can return to recovery support meetings, nursing homes can begin allowing regular visits, and we can start having sports again, then I’ll make that sacrifice over and over.