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I’ve Gotten Used to It
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Yesterday, a federal judge in Florida struck down the Biden’s administration mask mandate. She ruled that the CDC lacked the authority and proper rules to implement it. The White House has not yet decided whether to appeal the ruling.

Many private transportation providers aren’t waiting for Biden’s response. Uber immediately sent me a message, saying I can now ride maskless and sit in the front seat next to the massless driver, if I want. TSA said it would no longer enforce the mask requirement for air travelers. United Airlines, now my preferred carrier since American has eliminated most of its flights in and out of SFO, sent me an update. No mask needed for my flight to ORD next week.

I have to admit that I’m dismayed by this development. Uncomfortable even. Am I the only Lone Ranger having this reaction? I’ve grown to appreciate having a mask between me and others, who are coughing, hacking and throwing particles – viral or not – into my space.

Two years ago, I bought my first masks online, when the retail stores were all closed, from a local women’s shop that promotes zero waste fashion. A set of three masks with four ties each cut from reclaimed fabric and sewn in Cambodia arrived at my door.

My sister-in-law, recently retired, bought herself a sewing machine and started her own cottage industry. Making masks for family and friends. She sent us customized masks by overnight delivery. Matching masks made out of 100 percent cotton with carpentry tool design for my husband and our then 3-year-old grandson. Plus, a collection of masks, with animal prints, that the preschool required for him and his little classmates. And, amazingly, the tikes got used to masking up. All day long except for lunch and naps.

In fact, despite the initial inconvenience, we all got used to wearing them. For shopping when the stores reopened. For meal pickups when the restaurants went to takeouts from sit-down dinners. To the library when the SFPL opened their doors at the Anza and Richmond branches. Borrowing books again, at last.

Masks were everywhere. Tucked in coat pockets for quick access while on the run. Backups stored in the car’s glove compartment. Zipped in with extra clothes and diapers in the toddler’s stroller. Masks – clean and dirty, used and discarded – littered the house and vehicles.

I wore my cotton masks consistently and conscientiously for months. Maybe more than a year. Until studies showed them almost non-effective. Then, I upgraded to a “barrier face covering” in accordance with ASTM test standards. With insertable filters, good for 5-7 days depending on use. Treated with HEIQ V-BLOCK for microbe and germ resistance. Fully customizable with adjustable ear loops and nose wire for snug fit. Almost a fashion statement. If not a political one, I suspect, depending on where you’re traveling.

These days, when going out, I do an automatic pat down. Change purse in right coat pocket. (Who bothers with a purse anymore?) House keys in left pocket. Smart phone in left pocket of cargo pants. (Means I can only wear pants with a big enough pocket to hold it.) Hat on. Mask on. Ready to go.

I’m so used to the regimen. We all are. Even the toddler who just turned two. “Mask on GG,” he reminds me as we get dressed to go to the playground. Amazing that, in his at-most 100-word vocabulary, these two words are top of mind.

I have no doubt I’ll choose to wear my mask for the flight back to Chicago – regardless of the mandate revocation. It’s become so natural. A bit uncomfortable for four hours on the plane. But, a preventative necessity in my opinion. Besides, I really can’t be bothered with lipstick or foundation. Makeup seems so unnatural these days. And, I can’t be bothered.

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