Friday, November 19, 2021

Suddenly, no one really cares about masks anymore

Things are different from the way they were just a week ago, at least in my part of Taiwan. I'm not sure what has triggered the change, or whether anything similar has happened anywhere else.

Masks are still required by law -- or by whatever it is we have instead of law these days -- in most places, whether indoors or out, though the list of exceptions is slowly growing, with a few more added every couple of weeks. At the moment, I am allowed to take my mask off at the lectern but not at my desk, in my car but not on my motorcycle, at the restaurant table but not at the counter, while exercising but not while resting -- and all of that is liable to change at any moment at the whim of the Tooth Fairy (as I call the overpromoted dentist who somehow gets to call all the shots).

Where masks are still, required, though -- which is most places -- compliance is still very, very close to 100%. When I say people no longer care about masks, I don't mean they have gotten in any way lax about wearing them. I can go for days without seeing a single unmasked face in public. No sloppy below-the-nose stuff, either; always full face-diaper.

I never wear a mask anywhere unless asked -- and "asked" is a nice way of saying that behind the impeccably polite exterior I've got a whole bag of tricks and excuses and psychological tactics and what have you, and you've got to try pretty damn hard. I do not go gentle. People always used to try, though. I generally won, but they tried.

About a week ago, everyone stopped trying.

I suppose some of it might just be personal notoriety -- bureaucrats and shopkeepers be like here come dat boi -- but even people I've never interacted with before have stopped trying. I walk into a grocery store, a post office, a bank, even the fire department, and everyone acts like it's totally normal. Not so much as a "Sir, your mask" out of anyone. Not even a look of surprise or alarm.

I always carry a mask just in case -- I don't want to pay an actual fine if it comes to that -- and when motorcycling I always used to wear one pushed down around my neck. With a helmet and all, it's not easy to quickly put on a mask if you see a cop, so I had to be prepared. First I would pull it up if I saw a cop and pull it back down when the coast was clear. Then I started pulling it up only if the cop didn't look busy. Then I never pulled it up at all but knew that I could if necessary. About a week ago, I stopped wearing the thing altogether. I just spontaneously felt that the cops wouldn't care anymore, that nothing would happen, and so far that has proven to be the case.

Is this happening anywhere else?

Update: I guess I knew posting this would jinx me. The very next day, I had to deal with a remarkably persistent maskie at the post office who really put me through my paces. Even she didn't really seem to care, though. Certainly there was no sense of fear or anger or anything, just a touch of rules-are-rules-ism. In the end, though I really had to get creative, I did manage to get through the whole thing with no mask, no fine, and no hard feelings. It's getting easier and easier to do.

1 comment:

Truth to Life said...

At my workplace (a university in Commiefornia), masks are required and everyone wears one...except me...ever since August. No one has complained, and I've gotten the same non-reaction you're describing. Maybe no one cares anymore, but now they're in the habit of wearing one and they're afraid of confrontation?

Never mind, Lord . . .

Please, God, save us from this terrible storm -- oh, never mind, it's just stopped! -- traditional prayer Good night, Westley. Good work...