What do We Owe to Each Other during Covid-19?

I am tired as I write this post. I am tired from a long day at work dealing with many entitled people who are difficult to deal with during the Covid-19 pandemic. I am tired from having dealt with this pandemic for over six months with no end in sight.

There have been some instances where I haven’t been bothered with people disagreeing with my company’s Covid-19 protocols. At this point, it seems like many people understand that we are all doing what we think is right, and that them complaining to me about having to wear a mask is not particularly helpful. During my last shift, when I oversaw letting people into our store and informing them of our safety protocols, one lady did not want to wear a mask. However, she was the first person who was really respectful to me about it; when I told her that we require customers to wear masks in our store, she said that she “couldn’t support that” but wished me a good day and left without a snide comment. Sure, she and I disagree on mask-wearing, but there was no hostility in our interaction. She was smart enough to realize that arguing with me would be a waste of time for both of us, and I really appreciated that. Some may say that the bar has been set low for what constitutes a positive interaction with another person, but all I know is that I left that interaction in a relatively normal mood.

The same cannot be said for a customer interaction I had later in the day. The situation began similarly to the previous interaction: A lady approached our store, and I greeted her and asked if she had a face mask she could put on because our store requires it. At this point, she began to question me. “Why are you mandating masks when the government hasn’t? Socially distancing is enough, that works for me.” Answering to these questions and comments is sometimes difficult for me, though not because I don’t know the answer. It is just so exhausting having to repeat these things daily. I feel like a broken record; I explain that we take the health and safety of employees and customers very seriously which is why we have these protocols. Even as I say this, I know that the customer will not really care about the reasons behind our protocols; every time, it seems as though the customer just wants to have another statement to complain about and another person to get angry at. Eventually, this lady left, but I had this horrible feeling in my gut for the next several hours. Even though I interacted with many other customers that were super polite and cooperative, it only took one bad interaction to make me dread what the next entitled customer would do.

The funny thing is, I know that these people will have the same interactions with many other store employees, as I estimate that half of the stores in my mall (including food and dining services) mandate masks. How many times does a person need to hear this before they stop preaching about their freedoms and mask up? How far into the pandemic will we be when we can respectfully disagree on our beliefs? Though I imagine this will be an ongoing issue, I just hope that I have the patience to deal with it and hold on to my integrity.

(Featured Image by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona on Unsplash)

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