Is neighborly supermarket chit-chat a thing of the past?
Whether we agree or disagree with the mandatory order, “…use of cloth face coverings by the general public when outside the home conducting essential activities…” we must abide by it. If not, the grocery store bouncer will not let you in.
Like you, I’ve encountered a few challenges while wearing a face mask. The most irritating one is that I can’t breathe. Sometimes, when no one else is in the immediate vicinity, I recklessly pull down my mask and take a couple of breathes. I feel like a teenager who’s getting away with something; the thrill, the adrenaline rush! Ha! I haven’t been caught yet.
It also gets hot under that mask. When I put my glasses on to see the ever-rising prices on items I really don’t want, but have no choice because my brand is not available, they become fogged up, preventing me from seeing the price. So, I just toss the item in my cart and move on.
Here are my top four face mask pitfalls:
#1. The lipstick smear: Upon returning to my car, I rip off the face mask noticing that my lipstick is no longer where it was originally applied. It was now absorbed into the inside of the face mask and all around my lips; I now have clown lips.
Why wear lipstick if I’m covering it with a mask? Because, I want to maintain some normalcy to my life, because I’m vain, because I’m used it, because I don’t like dry lips, because I like it, and because you want to be ready if a selfie moment presents itself.
#2. Breath awareness: Whoa! If you’ve never paid attention to how your breath smells to others, wearing a face mask will give you a clue. I’ve always advised people to avoid eating pungent foods if they know they’ll be working closely with someone, or in confined quarters. It’s just common courtesy not to expose others to your malodorous breath.
#3. Smile or scowl: Pre-face mask orders, I never found grocery store shoppers to be very friendly. Is it me? Most of the time, I believe that I’m happy, or at least have a pleasant look on my face. Why wouldn’t I, there’s food all around me!
In light of the face mask, we must rely only on the eyes to reveal a person’s mood or expression. Does anyone really engage in eye contact long enough to receive and respond to a greeting? If flirting or hooking up at a grocery was your thing, I imagine these are tough times for you.
Someone may have good reason to be troubled or anxious and smiling is simply not natural.
Rude behavior in a time of uncertainty and concern merely heightens an already unsettling situation. Don’t be that person.
#4. I can’t hear you: Six feet of social distancing, coupled with a mouth covering can make it a challenge to understand what is being said. Sometimes it sounds like mumbling, especially when the person turns their head away from the conversation. Now add background noises. That can make it impossible to carry on a conversation.
Here are a three things we can do to help improve face mask communication:
- Look directly at the person with whom you are speaking.
- Speak clearly using your “powerful” voice.
- Smile. It will naturally make your tone of voice sound nicer.
Everyone handles unsettling times differently. We mustn’t impose our methods, especially to strangers. We can choose to inject a little humor, not expecting everyone to like it. Most of all, we can choose to practice patience, because without it, we will only stir up chaos and not get to our destination any quicker.
Face masks, no longer reserved for burglars.
Rosalinda Oropeza Randall, Etiquette and Civility Expert, Media Source, and author of “Don’t Burp in the Boardroom.”