Mask Up Buttercup

In December of 2019 the first case of COVID-19 was identified in Wuhan, China. In January 2020 the first case in the United States was identified less than twenty miles from my home. It has been nearly two years since the pandemic started and we all received a crash course on what to do in this pandemic. At first, we were so clueless of what we needed there was a run-on toilet paper. The grocery stores all had empty shelves which was understandable, but what was up with toilet paper? Some of you are probably still hoarding toilet paper. We never ran out but did use the pandemic as an excuse to get a bidet. We one one-upped the TP hoarders!

Easily accessible things like antiseptic wipes, masks and rubbing alcohol were gone within days and took several months for the items to make it back on the shelves. In the interim, distilleries stepped up, retooled, and started making hand sanitizer and alcohol for sanitization purposes. Patterns and tips for making your own masks started circulating. Clothing manufactures also retooled and started making masks. People also started storing gasoline in plastic bags… Oh, wait, that was later.

Masks and sanitizing everything right down to your eggplant became the norm. We were all washing our hands like they had a club stamp on them we didn’t want mom or dad to see. Then, on March 20th, 2020, California locked down. When that happened, it immediately became apparent to everyone just how serious covid was. Other states started locking down in rapid succession. Washington State locked down three days after California and my hometown of Seattle became a ghost town overnight.

All the experts were telling us they didn’t know exactly how this pandemic was spreading but they were quite sure it was airborne. The experts also told us masks would help control the spread of the virus if it was confirmed to be airborne. By July 2020 experts were begging the authorities to acknowledge that covid was airborne. By the time the WHO & CDC finally admitted it was airborne most of us were responding with “No s— Sherlock.”

Prior to the pandemic it was common to see people with masks on when they were painting, using leaf blowers, outdoors during allergy season, working in construction sites and more. When the smoke was so thick in Seattle due to the forest fires which have been exacerbated by climate change, people wore masks when walking outdoors. When I was sick prior to the pandemic, my doctor would ask me to wear a mask into her office. And please don’t lecture me about the different types of masks, we all know now there are different kinds of masks for different activities. When needed, masking up to protect ourselves and others was a commonsense thing we didn’t get upset about. We didn’t ridicule, harass, or physically injure people who chose to wear a mask. We knew masks kept a lot of things out of our lungs. We also knew masks kept a lot of things from escaping our lungs and making it into the lungs of others.

But, as nearly all things in America anymore, masks became a political tool. By March of 2021 people were holding mask burning protests. At one of mask burnings an image of a child tossing a mask into the fire was captured with a man holding an American flag in the background. Another person held a sign saying “I will not self-suffocate” in the background. Today, six months later, Idaho is currently rationing health care due to antivaxxers and anti-maskers who get covid and then (miraculously) decide to start trusting health care professionals.

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It’s time to stop mincing words… If you don’t think masks help slow the spread of germs, you are an idiot and I’m not trying to reach you with this post; you can stop reading now. I’m not ever going to try to convince anyone that masks help stop the spread of coronavirus; that’s like arguing about God. The data is there, the debate is over, you will not suffocate in a mask, masks will not make you sicker, you are free to do whatever you want in a mask, masks are not infringing on your freedoms, surgical masks are not rendered useless by the moisture from your breath, oxygen is a gas which passes through masks (yes, really), farts are a gas, so they pass through masks too! I honestly had one idiot tell me masks didn’t work because she could smell farts through them! America is awash in lies about masks. It’s not “misinformation” at this point, these are lies, and for the religious types… False witness. If someone is spreading lies about covid, and those lies result in the death of someone; the liar is a murderer. Due to the virulence of covid, anyone spreading lies about covid is (in all probability) a serial killer.

In the paragraph above I said I was not trying to reach the fools who think masks don’t work. I’m not. This post is for those who know masks work and are disillusioned, angry, and outraged over those who still obviously don’t give a damn about spreading covid and killing others. Yes, this post is for you.

Fundamentally my husband and I have been in lockdown since the pandemic started. We had one reprieve with a family trip to Rehoboth Beach in Delaware and in late June and Washington D.C. in early July of this year. The timing was perfect. We traveled in the sweet spot between being fully vaccinated and the delta variant unleashing its hell. If there is a god, I would like to thank it, or karma, or pure dumb luck for the timing of that trip. The entire family needed it. Dinner at Albi in DC, getting trapped outside along the National Mall in the small tornado and spending the 4th on the National Mall were my highlights.

Other than the one trip we have been spending time with neighbors, family, and friends in a limited manner. The only times we have eaten in a restaurant going on two years was when we traveled to Delaware and DC. Prior to the pandemic we ate out frequently, traveled a fair bit, had (and went to) parties, did art walks, took many short trips, loved visiting galleries and museums, and went to the gym. One of my favorite things to do was jump on light rail near our home and explore downtown Seattle and Pike Place Market. I miss even the little things like spending my sweet time in grocery store without a mask and a fear of death or long-haul symptoms due to covid.

We viewed our trip to the East Coast as our personal litmus test for the vaccine. We left Seattle where masks were still commonplace and headed to a more maskless part of the country. From the time we got on light rail until we were jumping in our rental car, our masks were on. We drove from the airport to a place on the water for dinner. We all put our masks on as we entered the restaurant. When we got inside, we understood why people were looking at us… Not one person had a mask on. Our masks came off. We felt naked yet oddly comfortable. By the time we left Delaware, we had our sense of normalcy back. We had been maskless nearly the entire time we were in Delaware. Parties, crowed beaches, shopping, dining and even arcades. I was so happy I was borderline ecstatic. We had survived the pandemic! Once again, this was the short period of time after vaccinations and prior to the delta variant.

When we arrived in husband and I had our niece and nephew in our car. We had arrived earlier than the rest of the family and told them we would wait for them in the coffee shop on the ground level of the hotel. When we were ordering drinks, it became noticeably dark outside. Right after we ordered our drinks every phone in the shop sounded off with a flash flood warning. Within seconds the clouds unleashed like firehoses. Within a couple of minutes, the streets were flooded, and the café was packed with maskless people. The novelty of the flood and not being one bit concerned about covid was exhilarating.

The floodwater receded rapidly, and the skies cleared up in time for us to set out for dinner at Albi. Albi is Arabic for ‘my heart’. Albi will always have a special place in my heart. It was the best meal we have had in decades. I’m not all that fond of lamb but the lamb at Albi was outstanding! Because there were eight of us, we tried nearly everything on the menu. We were in the covered patio and the setting was perfect. Once again, a maskless and overwhelming sense normalcy, gratitude, and contentment.

While in D.C., we visited several Smithsonian’s and monuments and took a crowded bus tour maskless. Masks were required in the Smithsonian’s and tickets were very difficult to come by due to limited admissions. We even made a point to visit Comet Ping Pong which is the pizzeria at the heart of Pizzagate. For those who do not know what I’m talking about, it is the pizzeria conservatives were convinced was the home of a child sex trafficking ring led by Hillary Clinton. Conservatives harassed the employees and owner ceaselessly with the harassment culminating on December 4, 2016 when Edgar Maddison Welch fired three shots from an AR-15 style rifle inside the pizzeria during business hours. I cannot make this stuff up! And this predated the conservative QAnon cult! Here’s the Wikipedia link to Comet Ping Pong.

With all the traveling, air conditioning, and weather changes, my husband and I didn’t feel quite right. We both felt like something was up and thought we both might have a mild case of covid. We did the right thing and both covid tests came back negative. We decided the sinus irritation we were experiencing must have been due to all the funky weather changes and the air conditioning. We knew getting tested was critical due to the recent reports of the delta variant and how easily it was spreading. This little episode burst our sense of normalcy and put covid back on our radar like it was three months prior.

Despite the covid test earlier that day, we spent the evening of the 4th of July on the National Mall with tens of thousands celebrating and watching fireworks. It was particularly meaningful this year because I’m sure everyone on the mall thought we had turned the corner on the pandemic. It was a stellar day to be an American and celebrate at our nation’s capital.

Shortly after returning from the East Coast, delta unleashed its wrath due to the simple fact that people were not getting vaccinated and were refusing to wear masks. I started wearing mine again prior to the mask mandate in Washington State being reinstated which happened less than a month after we returned.

When the mask mandate came back, I was both grateful and outraged. I am still outraged. I am angry with everyone who is so heartless and self-centered that they will not get vaccinated and/or wear a mask. The only reason why we are experiencing overflowing hospitals and a weakening economy again is due to antivaxxers and anti-maskers. These people are obviously Public Enemy #1. They are jeopardizing and hindering our lives, the lives of those we love, our livelihoods, and destroying our dreams and hopes of ever returning to normal. I think these individuals should be loathed, shunned, and banned from taking part in any public setting. They are today’s Typhoid Mary. They are harbingers of death and should be treated as such.

With the belief that these evil, narcissistic, and sociopathic antivaxxers and anti-maskers should be loathed, shunned, and banned from taking part in any public setting what was I to do? I had already been loudly and publically calling out those in violation of the mask mandate in grocery stores, but I decided I needed to up my game for the benefit of society. I had been struggling with how to up my game for weeks when it hit me… The gym!

After my husband and I were fully vaccinated, and the waiting period was over, I headed back to the gym. I have been going since being fully vaccinated despite the delta variant. The gym is one of my escapes from this pandemic. I rely on the gym for sanity and health. Excluding the week or so after we returned from the East Coast, I have been masking up at the gym. After the statewide mask mandate came back into effect, the anti-maskers at the gym really began to get to me. Every time I saw one (daily) I became angry. This may be good for my work out, but it is not good for my mental and emotional health. I do factor my gym use into decisions I make about going places where there are people who cannot get vaccinated due to age. If people cannot get vaccinated due to health reasons, it is their responsibility to let others know because none of us are mind readers. I will accommodate health related non-vaccinated folks as needed.

Back to the gym in a minute… I’ll be completely honest, I hate antivaxxers and anti-maskers. One of them recently posted a meme on Facebook which said we should respect each other for our vaccine choice. In other words, I should have respect for someone willing to risk spreading death and long-term complications due to covid throughout society simply because they chose not to get vaccinated. Um, that’s a load of crap! I have zero respect for unvaccinated Americans who are eligible to be vaccinated. I also have zero empathy for them once they get sick. Should I feel for someone if they die from covid after refusing to get vaccinated? That was their choice. They also chose to endanger countless lives of others with that choice, good riddance! Society does not need people like that.

Back to the gym… I started reminding people at the gym to put their mask on or cover their nose. I was a little bit surprised by the number of people who were not wearing masks or not wearing them appropriately. Then I started noticing how many employees of the gym were not abiding by the mask mandate either. Soon these anti-maskers started pushing back and ignoring my request to mask appropriately. I went to the front desk to report one woman who was maskless and singing loudly after she ignored my requests to mask up. The guy working was outstanding. He went and told the woman she needed to mask up and gave her a mask. Perfect! The next day the same woman was there with her mask on her chin. I told her to cover up and she complied then stated, “I remember you from yesterday.”

As the days went on, pushback on masking appropriately by anti-maskers was getting stronger. One couple flat out refused. I told them “Fine, I’ll have a chat with the front desk.” They watched me walk over to the front desk and chat with the staff and then come back. Then the woman walked by me and let out a deep breath. I was furious and said, “Put your fucking mask on.” They walked up to the front desk and told the same guy I had spoken with and told him I swore at them. He told them they needed to always have a mask on in the gym. The woman said she didn’t feel comfortable in a mask. He told her she shouldn’t be anywhere she felt uncomfortable and encouraged her to stay home where she could work out and be comfortable without a mask on. How do I know this? He came over and chatted with me and I told him a verbatim accounting of what transpired. At the end of our conversation, he said “I appreciate you.” I said thanks and reiterated the same.

I’ve been saying most conservatives are snowflakes for years now. The mask mandate is just another example how special these snowflakes think they are. They believe in crazy nonsense they find on the internet which results in everything from pizzerias getting shot up when occupied to domestic terrorism like that of January 6th, 2021. These snowflakes wanted to topple the government because they lost a legitimate election. Nine months later, they have a commemorative rally supporting those acts of domestic terrorism! Let me remind everyone that these are the same people who blow up federal buildings, shoot up abortion clinics, blow up black churches, bomb synagogues, murder talk radio hosts, and now enact the Christian version of Sharia Law in Texas. These same terrorists now want citizens turn on citizens despite the fact a woman may be carrying a fetus which does not have the needed organs to live on its own. These so-called conservatives are nothing more than a bunch of extremists who would much rather see society fail than succeed and yet the media and general populace refuse to call these terrorists and extremists what they really are, terrorists and extremists.

Recently three Texans were asked by a hostess to provide proof of vaccination at a restaurant while visiting New York City. This is a requirement in NYC and everyone knew it. What was their response? The Texans assaulted the hostess. An article in the New York Times, Fighting Over Masks in Public Is the New American Pastime, which was published on June 30th, 2020 provided many more examples of how these anti-maskers and antivaxxers were terrorizing the rest of us; it’s gotten worse since then. Antivaxxers and anti-maskers are the ones responsible for spreading and amplifying this pandemic. These so-called-humans do not care what happens to anyone else due to their actions. They are now terrorizing the rest of the country with biowarfare. Society is truly at war with the antivaxxers and anti-maskers.

Knowing we are at war with the antivaxxers and anti-maskers, I decided to adorn myself with protest garb at the gym. Here are the protest shirts I purchased for my workouts:

My shirts received a lot of thumbs ups and winks while I was working out. They also helped reduce confrontation because I could simply stand in front of someone and point to my shirt. The shirts worked wonderfully until last Thursday when two stereotypical angry white dudes were working out near me with their masks on their chins. I pointed to my shirt as they looked at me. I even did hand gestures to indicate their masks needed to cover their orifices. I didn’t call them an orifice but would have liked to because that’s what they were acting like. Then one of them decided to come very close to me with his mask on his chin. I stated that the mask was supposed to cover his face. He started mocking me and harassing me at this point. I knew he had been studying my shirt which stated, “A mask is not a political statement, it’s an IQ test” so I loudly stated, “Well that’s a failed IQ test.” He then started to get hot. I was now angry with this bioterrorist and clearly stated “Put your fucking mask on.” He and his friend nearly exploded; they began yelling at me and calling me names. I walked up to the front desk and told the employee working what was going on. He came back and told the guys to put their masks on. They came unhinged on the employee and me. They complained that I had told them to put their fucking masks on. Do you think these snowflakes would have told the employee about what the lead up to me telling them that? Nope. Then they threatened me with physical harm. Yes, they threatened to injure me because I have concerns about the spread of this deadly virus. It was more than apparent these angry white dudes thought they should be excluded from the rules. If there ever was a stereotype for snowflakes it is the American antivaxxer and anti-masker.

I told the employee that I wanted to be sure he conveyed the situation to his boss and that I expected something done. As I stood at the front desk, the angry white dudes exited behind me coughing to to once again mock and harass me. This is Planet Fitness I go to. Planet Fitness is supposedly a “judgment free zone.” According to that, I should be free to wear my shirts without ridicule. The Supreme Court agrees with me on this. I most definitely should not be threatened by other members because of my beliefs inside a “judgment free zone.” Furthermore, no member should feel the need to tell another member to mask up in Washington State when the state has a mask mandate in place.

A few weeks ago, I responded to a survey for Planet Fitness. In the survey I stated I had two concerns, cleanliness, and enforcement of the mask mandate. The manager wrote me back to address the cleanliness issue but completely ignored my concerns about enforcement of the mask mandate. I wrote him back the next day thanking him for addressing the cleanliness issue and reiterated my concerns over enforcement of the mask mandate. He completely ignored the email. After eleven days passed, I wrote a strongly worded reply. After I sent it, I realized it was insane for me to keep asking him to address an issue when he kept ignoring my inquiries. I hit reply to the email and dropped a couple corporate email addresses on the email, including the CEO. I also dropped a couple additional lines of text and then clicked send.

The next morning the manager called me at the crack of dawn. I didn’t know the number, so I didn’t answer because I thought it was a scammer. After all, no good human would call at that time of the morning! He called back later that day and wanted to talk. He was incredibly defensive and told me “Those emails make me look bad.” I was livid with his concern about his appearance over the lives of his staff and the members of his gym. I told him that if he had not ignored me, and had he had enforced the mask mandate, he never would have had to worry about his appearance over human life. I was livid with his response. To me this short conversation explained to me why many of his staff were maskless on the floor of the gym. His maskless employees are also sending members a signal they need not adhere to the mask mandate.

That phone call took place ten days prior to the stereotypical angry white guys harassing me and ignoring the mask mandate in the gym. Because this exchange was so fresh, I replied all to that same email which had the CEO on it and unloaded about the lax enforcement of the mask mandate at his gym and my experience with the angry white guys. Mr. Manager’s response??? Here it is:

So, there we have it, the manager of this gym, who was more concerned with his appearance than the health of his staff and gym members the last time we spoke, didn’t even talk with me but couldn’t pass up on this opportunity to try and make me look bad to his superiors. First, Mr. Manager, had you and your staff been enforcing the mask mandate there would not be a reason for me to even be concerned about a mask being down. The buck stops with you, right? Second, you are going to lecture me about a right and wrong way to defend my life and the lives of other members due to covid as you stand back and let anti-maskers have their way at Planet Fitness when a statewide mask mandate is in place? And Mr. Manager, did I not say the following in my email to you? “I have a shirt on that says “A mask is not a political statement. It’s an IQ test.” Two guys were reading my shirt without a mask. I signaled to them twice to put their mask on. They didn’t and one flat out refused. I told him to put his fucking mask on. He unleashed a tirade of profanities and told me he’d kick my ass and masks were a joke.”

Mr. Manager, I would like to remind you once again that there is a statewide mask mandate in place.

Mr. Manager, I would like to let you know there is a right way and a wrong way to respond to a customer and that thus far you have chosen not to respond or to indicate I am the problem each time you do respond. Neither one of those were the “right way” to respond.

Mr. Manager, I would like to let you know you are the reason for all our previous correspondence as well as this post.

I was appalled by the lack of concern this manager had about the safety of the members at his gym. I was so appalled that I hit reply all and wrote the following directly to his manager:

Of course, that email prompted a call from the regional manager. I told him I really didn’t want to talk about it until I had published this piece. I listened to him and then quadrupled down on how lax enforcement of the mask mandate is at this gym. I even told him that as I walked out that day an employee gave a maskless guy entering the gym a mask as he checked in and then proceeded to let the anti-masker bioterrorist walk into the gym without putting the mask on! Mr. Manager’s boss obviously wasn’t listening to me either. His email later that day was full of excuses for the anti-masker crowd at this gym. He could care less about the bioterrorists giving Planet Fitness staff and members covid. Those people would then give it to others who would in turn give it to more people. It’s a pandemic; that’s how this works. We should all know this by now but apparently Planet Fitness has not received the memo or is simply choosing to ignore it.

We, as a collective group who are doing the right thing, need to stand up to these antivaxxers and anti-maskers. Each one of us needs to do our part. I pledge that next time I see someone in a store or public place without a mask I will ask them very loudly “Where’s your mask?” I will do this from a safe distance and make sure other people can hear it loud and clear. I have done this in the past and watched their faces react to the shock of being publicly shamed as strangers look at them. It’s quite funny because the snowflake is now getting the attention it so desperately craves and yet the snowflake is mortified. Should one of these bioterrorists react in a hostile manner, I will defend myself in any way necessary and file assault charges if needed. Should I see one respond in a hostile manner to someone else confronting them, I will have your back tenfold!!! I would rather save lives than be complicit in letting others spread this pandemic and continue killing others.

Public shunning works. Educating people about the pandemic and protocols for the safety of society has obviously reached its apex. Educating people at this point is futile. Hospitals are full once again. Hospitals are now rationing care to those of us who have done the right thing and got vaccinated. This is neither fair nor compassionate. This is a result of politics and willful ignorance. Those of us who are doing the right thing should not be forced to suffer at the hands of sociopaths and bioterrorists any longer. A loved one could get into an accident and now be denied critical care in favor of someone who did not get vaccinated. That’s a load of crap. Another loved one could be suffering from cancer and be denied life saving treatments because the hospitals are tending to a bunch of bioterrorists chose to ignore all the data and not get vaccinated. That’s a load of crap as well. These antivaxxers and anti-maskers are a societal plague with deadly consequences. They are eating at the core of America. They are not moral or patriotic. They are bioterrorists.

We also need to confront business not doing their part to end this pandemic. I paid my dues for Planet Fitness throughout the lockdown and the entire time they were closed. At least I think I did… I don’t think they stopped billing me. Anyway, I extended a favor to Planet Fitness and now, as the pandemic takes on steam again, Planet Fitness is perfectly fine letting someone breathe covid on me. That is how corporate America works. Corporations have no shame. They only care about making money. If Planet Fitness can make millions by letting the antivaxxer and anti-masker kill hundreds of thousands of Americans, Planet Fitness will do just that. I now ask Planet Fitness to prove me wrong, but something tells me they will ignore me again.

I will post again about the response, or lack thereof, from Planet Fitness. Frankly, I think the two angry white dudes should have their memberships revoked for harassing me and threatening me with bodily harm. And Mr. Manager needs to be given a very stern warning. That warning needs to be followed up with surveys sent out to members about mask use in the club so his progress (or lack thereof) can be monitored. This stuff is not hard, and zero tolerance rules now need to be in place.