I was observing my local primary elections on June 7.
The public polling place was in the basement of a women’s shelter. To get to the kitchen, the residents and employees crossed through the polling place. It was neither the ideal environment for an election to take place, nor was it the ideal environment for a women’s shelter to be run, but it got the job done for both purposes that day.
After I had been there for some time, a woman in an apron, built like a college football lineman, came up to me and demanded loudly:
“Do you need a mask?”
I told her that I did not.
She did not care for that answer. Of course, both her and I recognized that her question was more of an order than a question.
Using a question to voice an order is what her anger management couch would call passive-aggressive.
Already loud, she got louder:
“You need a mask to be in here.”
I had not spoken to this woman. I had not interacted with this woman. I had not even been in the same room as this woman. But, obviously, my unmasked presence in this building had triggered her in some way. At this point, I had no question that she might
1.) create a pretty disruptive scene,
2.) get physically aggressive
3.) call the police on me, or
4.) do who-knows-what unhinged thing.
Things were happening around me election-wise that needed my attention, and this had to be addressed quickly, so I could tend to the business that I really cared about that day: observing the elections.
What was I to do?
For an instant, I thought about an exemption — telling her that I was not able to wear a mask safely. It was a very short instant. An exemption is the lesser approach.
Then, I thought for an instant about just ignoring her and turning away from her and toward my business. I could have even done that with a dismissive laugh. That would likely poke at some wounds she has, which is not something I like to do to others if it can be avoided. But that too crossed my mind only for an instant.
It took a lot of work to get me to what happened next.
Without even awkwardly missing a beat, I looked her in the eye, and said, calmly, relatively quietly, and with certainty:
“I will not be wearing a mask today.”
Let me stress that it was said calmly, relatively quietly, and with certainty.
She followed my lead — she too quieted down.
She said in a suddenly cheerful voice, “Ok!”
Then she did an about-face, crossed the polling place, and went back into the kitchen, not even entering the polling place again at any time during the next 12 hours.
It worked. Calm, certainty worked. Recognizing the authority over the situation worked. It almost always works.
But I can tell you that is not where I started out.
Face Masks in One Lesson is a good book for someone starting out. It is good for someone looking for tips on how to live life without a face mask and without so many other intrusions in life. It is a training wheels approach to get you started. But it can also be an intermediate guide on how to strategical navigate life, which includes face masks, but also so much more.
After 9/11, government looked at us all and said, “Hush, child. Go to your bedroom. We’ve got this under control.”
And many of us listened — myself among them.
I don’t expect you or anyone to run a marathon the day you emerge from your post-9/11 slumber. I know, step-by-step, that I can get you ready for that marathon, though.
Eventually, where we all need to be is walking in that calm, confident authority.
If you are not there yet, let me help you get there. Tap here to signup for the RealStevo.com newsletter (https://realstevo.com/search) and I’ll send you 1.) easy ways to stop wearing the mask while living a normal and wonderful life and 2.) easy ways to avoid the search engine censorship — which Duck Duck Go is most guilty of. Not only that, but you will get encouraging words from me every day.