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Chris Huston

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The other day I was in Costco. Everyone was masked up as usual. A woman was pushing her cart toward mine. On her mask was printed the following message: “FREEDOM (all caps) does not look like this.”

I read it, and winced. I’ve tried — I really have tried — to get on board with this woman’s point of view. I’m told it’s a massive infringement on American freedoms to put on a mask in a public place during a pandemic. I’m still trying to figure out why. If you visit three or four local businesses each day, and it takes three seconds to put on a mask and another two seconds to take it off, it adds up to maybe 30 seconds a day. It’s not like you’re missing out on anything.

OK, I’m not naïve. I understand: It’s not the face mask; it’s the fact that someone is telling you to put it on. And you don’t like being told what to do by “them.” After all, your doctor has been telling you for years not to smoke or drink and to get some exercise and cut down on the calories. But you’ve sure showed him, haven’t you?

And besides, who cares what a bunch of highly trained and dedicated medical professionals think? Last time I checked I’m still an American and it’s my constitutional right to put other people at risk with my choices if that’s what I want to do. I’m pretty sure that somewhere in the Bill of Rights it says that Congress shall make no law infringing on the right of the people to keep and bare nostrils.

And besides, if you cave in on the nostril covering, what’s next? Actually coming to a full stop at stop signs? Midnight in America.

Once when I was in elementary school I went with my mom and dad to visit my grandmother, whom I loved, in the hospital. I was told that we wouldn’t be able to have a long visit because she needed to rest. I was told to be quiet and not bounce around the room. In other words, I wouldn’t be able to be my typical, noisy, bull-in-a-china-shop, self-absorbed, childish self.

I loved my grandma, so I behaved. In her room I sat quietly and I didn’t play with the doctor stuff on the table. Strangely, I don’t remember feeling that my constitutional rights were being violated.

She got better, by the way, and hung around for another 10 years. I like to think that maybe I helped make that happen by simply not acting like a self-absorbed boob on the day we visited the hospital. And maybe it helped, and maybe it didn’t, but because it might have helped I was glad to do it.

And now it’s almost 2021, and we’ve been wearing face masks for eight months — at least most of us have. But there are some who refuse to wear masks, and you can tell from their attitudes that they’re itching for you to say something about it so they can unload on you.

And then there are the others, more passive-aggressive, who wear their masks under their nose, or down around their chin. I could be wrong, but I don’t think they’re fooling anyone.

All snark aside, I’d like to take a moment and say why I wear a mask. Today I feel healthy and strong, but it’s still possible that I have COVID. You’ve heard the term: I could be an asymptomatic carrier who’s unknowingly spreading the bug every time I stand in line near you, and neither of us would know it.

But not knowing how you caught the bug wouldn’t stop you from feeling bad once it hit.

So since I don’t want you to feel bad, even accidentally, I wear a mask.

It’s that simple. I don’t feel pressured by the government to conform. Nobody’s telling me how to act, think or feel. I’ve been asked to be a good citizen for however long it takes and play nice in the sandbox. I can do that, in fact I’m glad to do that, for you.

Call me crazy — and I’m sure many of you will.

Chris Huston is an author and award-winning columnist living in southern Idaho. Connect with Chris on both Facebook and Instagram at Chris Huston-Finding My Way and at chrishustonauthor.com.