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The new normal has us wearing masks for the foreseeable future. Is anyone else concerned about this from a safety perspective? Let’s take a moment to reflect. Visual cues, the way our eyes move (or don’t) and body language are important ways people communicate whether they realize this or not! Two of these three situations have been eliminated by the mandatory wearing of masks (in most areas). Now, everyone can hide behind the mask as they are not just for ‘Halloween’ anymore. If looks could kill, would you notice? Am I the only one who has thought about this? Each time I step out and need to wear a mask, I am constantly having thoughts of concern.
These thoughts are what brought me here. I wrote a post that spewed my frustration about the disrespect of people today titled, “Looking for People with Good Manners…Please & Thank You.” If you can believe it, this was BEFORE the pandemic, protests and riots…I digress. I have always used visual cues as a communication tool. Think of smiling at someone when something happens around you or giving a look of confusion scrunching your nose and frowning instead of calling something out. We all do things like this. However, as we live life in this new normal of wearing masks in public when social distancing is not ideal, when we use visual cues to communicate, can anyone tell? Weirdly enough, these are the things I think about when shopping, standing in line, etc. And, it has all led to some other thoughts of mine that are more safety-related. Let me explain.
Banks, Stores & Gas Stations
I used to work in a bank. If someone walked in with a mask on you better get your finger on that ‘oh $hit’ button to alert the police! Now everyone is wearing a mask. One of the things I think about is if and when there is a bank robbery during this times. Unfortunately they happen and usually when they do, it is on the local news. Fortunately, we haven’t had any news reporting of any bank robberies in our area but when they do, would you want to work in the actual branch moving forward? Everyone now wears a mask and I would be concerned with tellers especially. That they would work and live in fear moving forward. That just isn’t right. Also, what are the chances there will be more robberies as a result? Think about it. If looks could kill, you wouldn’t even notice it in this new environment? The same can be said for grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants, in fact any business that has a cash element to it. While I do believe at some point, cash, as a form of payment, will be eliminated faster as a result of this pandemic, there are still some businesses that are cash only. Either way, I am concened.
I am going to be very honest with this one. As a runner, walker and bicycle exerciser, I do not wear a mask full-time while engaging in those outdoor activities. In order to maintain social distancing protocols, I try and do those activities during times when areas are not crowded and on the streets of my neighborhood where there is less traffic. I am also really conscious of moving to avoid people. While I cannot say the same for others who do not move, clearly have no common sense or follow any type of suggestions or rules of the road, I do what I can to social distance. Some wear masks, some do not wear masks. However, let’s think about safety for a moment. Not from a 6-feet social distancing perspective, more from physical one.
Unfortunately, some of the most brutal attacks and missing person cases start in parks and bike paths. While we may not be thinking of this right now, how will things change when the first case or attack happens and it becomes public? Would you now think twice about being in a park alone? I run several times a week, during daylight hours in parks and on bike paths. While the mantra has always been, don’t run in parks alone and I totally get that, there isn’t a day that I have been in one where I don’t see others running alone. I suppose daylight hours and crowds will help with this during these times. However, masks are mandatory when social distancing isn’t feasible. We all may start thinking very differently if and when something happens to someone and it becomes public. So again I ask, if looks could kill, would you even notice?
Masks = Comfort
During this crazy pandemic, masks are a sign of comfort for many. Those in the medical profession have been wearing masks forever. They may just be wearing them a lot more now. Comfort. Those in service-related industries where customer service is at the forefront. Comfort. People who cannot maintain a 6-foot distance when in social settings wear masks. Comfort. Individuals in general who are so afraid of Covid-19 who wear masks each and every time they leave their house. Comfort. There are so many reasons today where masks are a sign of comfort. In time, when bad things happen, this may feel very different.
Masks = Fear
By now you may have seen social media posts regarding how it is now okay, in fact comforting, to walk into a bank wearing a mask in order to be safe from Covid-19. Who knew this would ever be OK? I’m concerned there will be a time where masks will cause fear and anxiety. The same can be said for all customer-service related businesses. I really hope it does not come down to this. As an HR professional, visual communication is important or should I say body language because it can tell us so many things. Masks hide that. I have never been a fan of masks in general for any reason. Halloween is my least favorite holiday (you can listen to my take on the lovely ‘holiday’ here). I do not like those dressed in any type of costume that hides the face and yes, that includes Disney and any other amusement park characters types. For some, masks invoke fear. Can you imagine if you are in a violent situation with someone wearing a mask during this pandemic?
Is There Hope?
My hope is like with many ‘flu-related’ pandemics in the past, this too shall pass and masks will no longer be necessary where they are today. Hopefully, in time, we will go back to the ‘old normal’ when we were able to party, watch sporting events, concerts and feel comfortable in public without masks. To go back to a time when we can visually communicate with others without verbally putting our thoughts into words (sometimes you just can’t do that that). When I was growing up, many of my friends would always say, “If looks could kill, you would definitely have a problem.” Because of this, I try and be very conscious of my facial expressions and verbal cues because I wear my emotions on my sleeve. However, in the current environment, it is really not an option. Perhaps that is why I think about these things often. As a outdoor/exercise enthusiast, I have a lot of time on my hands to ponder things. Each time I see someone in a park with a mask on that is alone or actually socially distancing, I think about lots of things. If looks could kill, would you notice?
all the best…judean
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