Freedom and Frontline Workers

In mid-July I read a very interesting – and sad – commentary on Americans, the pandemic and wearing masks that was written by Eli Saslow, a reporter at The Washington Post. The article is entitled “No mask no entry. Is that clear enough? That seems pretty clear, right?” Here is the link to the article if you would like to read it for yourself.

The article chronicles the efforts of Lori Wagoner, a 63-year-old retail clerk who works in a general store in a small community of 900 people on the Intracoastal Waterway in North Carolina, to ask her customers to wear a mask when they enter her store. She is a lifelong asthmatic who wants to stay safe at work.

North Carolina requires people to wear masks in public. She began by doing the logical things for her store. She started wearing a mask and gloves and she put a Plexiglass shield up in front of her register. She also put a sign on the door asking people to wear masks when they came in. Within a few hours her Plexiglass shield was covered with spittle. She called the sheriff to ask for his help in enforcing the state mask requirement and he informed her that he was not going to enforce this because he “did not want to become the mask police.” (I think he should be looking for a new line of work since he does not want to do his job.)

More than 90% of the members of her community wear masks when they enter the store. Most of the customers who would not wear masks were travelers on the Intracoastal Waterway. When offered a mask or asked to wear one many of them reacted very poorly, screaming obscenities, refusing to leave the store and complaining about the idea that wearing a mask would take away their freedom.

After a final confrontation with a large, belligerent man who would simply not take no for an answer as he stormed through the store, Lori and her coworker just could not take it anymore. This was the last straw for them. They were really tired of the stress and emotional toll of dealing with selfish, inconsiderate people. They installed a bell and a new lock on the store’s front door. Now they do not allow anyone to enter who is not wearing a mask.

Lori makes $10.00 an hour. She should not have to do her job and also have to enforce her state’s mask requirement to maintain her personal safety.

Another reader did the right thing. He set up a GoFundMe® page for Lori. Instead of wanting to receive this gift of kindness for herself, however, Lori decided that the proceeds from this fund should be distributed as $600.00 grants to other retail clerks, to give them a break from the stresses added to their jobs by the pandemic. Here is the link for this GoFundMe® page.

I hope you will read the full article about Lori, and that you will make a gift to this fund if you can. I believe we all need to find ways to support the frontline workers who are doing their best to help us during this difficult time. While many Americans do wear masks in public, we need to demand that everyone wear them. We need to help those who will not wear masks to understand that our rights and our freedoms come with responsibilities.

As many other nations have proven during the pandemic, wearing a facial covering in public greatly reduces the transmission of the virus. In fact, wearing a mask in public actually increases your freedom. Reducing the spread of the virus and brining it under control allows all of us to begin to get back to a more normal life.

We all need to wear masks in public to support all of our frontline workers. We all want to enjoy our basic freedoms; however, no one has the right to potentially make others sick because they do not want to be inconvenienced by the simple act of wearing a mask in public. We all need to act responsibly to slow the spread of the virus and to respect the rights of the people around us when we are out in public. Please share this blog with your friends and family. Read this article and support this GoFundMe® page if you can. It is an opportunity to do the right thing.

1 thought on “Freedom and Frontline Workers

  1. Gerry Crispin

    Great post Ed. Love the story. I also enjoy the solution. In a better world I would pray that those refusing to wear masks won’t one day regret their choice. I’ve now had three encounters as a customer in stores where another customer chose not to wear a mask and have then engaged those who are wearing masks to step up to help me ‘encourage’ compliance…or to leave. See something. Say something.

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