Paranoia around masking

I was getting ready to go to the gym this morning when I was in the elevator going down, and the elevator stopped at the 11th floor. A woman who was in a big coat wearing a face mask looked at me and was a bit wide eyed. She told me that she would just wait for the next elevator and that I could go ahead. I figured that she didn’t want to get in the elevator with me because I was not wearing a mask. But then again, our building had removed our mask mandate weeks and weeks ago. This basically aligned with when New York City had removed its mask mandate. And so the fact that I was not wearing a mask should not have been surprising. However, there is still a lot of paranoia around COVID-19 and all of the different variants that seem to still be coming out, and so of course, there are going to be people who are germaphobic, paranoid and are not going to want to be in small, cramped spaces like elevators with people who are not wearing a mask. I get it. I don’t really mind it. In the beginning when the mask mandate got removed, I was a little bit wary as well. I still wanted to wear a mask when I went into stores. But Chris got mad at this, and he insisted that I not wear a mask. He says that we are no longer in a pandemic, that instead, we are actually in an endemic, and that because of that, we would need to learn to live with COVID-19 as the new normal that’s just part of our lives. And anyway, we are all triple vaccinated other than a baby, so fingers crossed that the worst would not happen to us. 

Anyway, so I went into the gym and was getting my elliptical set up when I heard a loud hard banging on the glass door entrance going into the gym. I turned around and saw the same heavy coated, masked woman there. I was wondering why the heck she was even standing there given that it was clear she was not getting ready to go to the gym, and so I went to the door and opened it for her.

“I just wanted to let you know that the reason I did not get into the elevator with you is because you were not wearing a mask, and I am not comfortable getting into the elevator with anyone not wearing a mask, “the woman said. “It had nothing to do with anything else. I just don’t want to be around people who are not wearing a mask. I don’t agree with the fact that the building removed the mask mandate. There is still a pandemic going on, and I’m just trying to be safe.”

I thought it was a little bit ridiculous that she got off on the third floor and went to the gym just to tell me this. I generally do not think the worst of people even though they piss me off all the time: I genuinely thought that she was not getting on the elevator with me because I was not wearing a mask, and based on what she said, I was right. Why, did she think that I thought that she didn’t get into the elevator because I was… Asian, or something else that she may be against? And also, I have no idea how old she is, but she looked a lot older than me. And once you get to a certain age, aren’t you supposed to stop caring what other people think? Not only is this woman paranoid about COVID-19, but it is clear that she is also paranoid about what other people think about her, even if those other people are total strangers like me who will likely never run into her ever again. Even if I were to see her again given that we live in the same building, chances are high that I would not even recognize her. People seriously need to stop all of their paranoia and just take a chill pill.

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