Couch Cat: Mask etiquette rules

Jackie Wilson Asheeke

For now, we all have to wear masks on our faces. So, let’s make the best of a weird situation. It cannot be all doom and gloom. Let’s look at this whole thing with a different eye; shall we?

I put on my mask for the first time to go to work on the first day after the lockdown ended. My rude awakening is that I dirtied the inside of the thing immediately with my face make-up and lipstick. Duh-uh. I must be some smart person to not have thought about that one.

Rule #1 – no face make-up can be worn with a mask. Instead, put more into your eye make-up and hair.

When walking through places, sometimes you might bump into someone or need to catch the attention of a person. Or, you may just want to say hello to someone. I have always used a warm smile and a nod to say, non-verbally “my bad” or, “Hi there!” With a mask on, a smile as non-verbal social communication is not happening. There I am, inside my mask, smiling like an idiot. No one sees it!

Rule #2 – they cannot see your smile; so say you are sorry or oops or good morning verbally.

The other day, I had my sunglasses on with the mask and I saw myself in a window I passed. I looked like a hood getting ready to rob someone. I barely recognized myself. It occurred to me that the real sneak thieves will see this too. People will not be able to identify a purse snatcher or other criminal low life. What will you tell the police (if they even come when you call), “He was medium height and had a mask on.” Laying charges with no description of the person who did it, will be a challenge.

Rule #3 – Your chance of being robbed has increased. Beware – move about in socially-spaced duos, for better safety. Walk fast straight to wherever you have to go. Move only in daylight. Avoid ATMs, swipe for everything. If you must get cash, do it in the day, use busy stations, and go with someone. Some grocery stores are now giving cash off your debit card when you swipe for your food. Take advantage of this. It is safer! Don’t open your purse or use your phone on the street EVER! This is particularly the case for older women and men and women with babies in strollers.

With that thing over your mouth, you’d better brush your teeth and use mouthwash. Seriously, you are going to smell your stale, spit breath all day. That bacon sandwich you ate for breakfast will be with you at lunch too.

Rule #4 – Invest in Listerine or other mouthwash, mints, breath sprays or oral antiseptics. Use them throughout the day.

Masks need to be washed regularly if they are reusable. Masks that are once-off use (which is what most people seem to be wearing) must be tossed in the garbage and a new one used the next day. Each person with reusable masks needs at least two. It seems that you can get them made in different colours. Cool. Match your mask to your outfit. Make a happy statement while things are so miserable. Get a wild colour that fits your personality or have a bit of fun. Make sure your mask is correctly made, otherwise, they are useless and you’ll get the virus if you are exposed. Remember, you still need to wash your hands all the time, use social spacing and get tested – the mask will not stop anything unless you do everything required all the time.

Rule #5 – For reusable masks, wash it out each evening (I use a bit of Dettol in the light soap washing). Let it dry in the sun. Then iron it and it is ready again. You need a second one to wear while you are washing and airing out the first one. If you do not do this every single day, you are infecting yourself with other bacteria over and over again. Yuck.

Masks are personal! Your mask is YOURS, no one else’s – even a beloved child or hubby or main man or BFF.

Rule #6 – if you don’t share panties with anyone, don’t share your mask either. Double-Yuck for anyone who says, “I am running out to the store, can I borrow your mask.”

People seriously mumble when they speak. I can barely hear the lady at the checkout counter or behind a desk in an office where I need service. Folks – wake-up! You have a mask over your face.

Rule #7 – Put your head up, open your mouth, and speak LOUDER! You cannot use a non-mask speaking volume when you have a mask over your face. You need to open your mouth and let it rip!

It is so wild to see people pull down their masks to talk to another person. Duh-uh… what is the point of the mask if you pull it down in front of people?

Rule #8 – your mask is a part of your body until this thing passes. The more you wear it, the more you will get used to it.

FYI – as with any info on protective products related to blocking the spread of COVID-19, check with official sources to get the real deal. What I am sharing in this piece is a whimsical look from my non-scientific, non-medical point of view.

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