July 26th, 2021

Going massless in public doesn’t feel comfortable yet


By Al Beeber on July 10, 2021.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

When the mask bylaw was lifted effective July 1, like many I breathed a sigh of relief and actually felt I could breathe easier. It’s been a long time under COVID-19 restrictions and that freedom was so wonderful to have.
I stopped to get gas on July 1 before heading out to shoot the Raymond parade and instinctively, I just put it on when I walked inside the filling station. The attendant, who I regularly buy my lottery tickets from, told me I could leave it off.
Only part jokingly, I told her the mask is protection from making other people sick when they see my toothless face. And yes, there are days when I forget to put in the dentures when I’m in a rush – which seems to be every single minute of every hour I’m awake.
Even last weekend, I was up early and out walking trying to get in my 15,000 steps before the heat became insufferable. It was after walking my black lab around Nicholas Sheran Lake I spotted a fire truck and followed it out to Cottonwood Park where I shot yet another fire early on Sunday morning. I knew I smelled smoke on the deck as I set my baseball pool lineup as the sun rose but I didn’t see smoke so I didn’t investigate as I should have.
But I found the fire nonetheless and shot the aftermath. When I went to fuel up the car afterwards, I again found myself grabbing a mask. It’s become a habit and I’m not sure it’s one I’m ready to give up yet.
One major box store has a sign saying it would prefer customers to continue wearing masks at its Lethbridge location. I’m fine with that and did don mine as the majority of shoppers did when I was there. While the dog food store didn’t have a similar sign, all staff were masked and so were most customers, me among them.
For now, wearing a mask is a courtesy I think I will continue to show in many circumstances. If I’m the only person in a convenience store and the attendant isn’t wearing one, I won’t either. But if the attendant is and other customers are, I’m going to put on mine to be respectful.
With the Delta variant now spreading, I hope the lifting of mask restrictions isn’t short-lived. We need a break after all these months. Wearing one in the recent heat wave has been excruciating and I quite frankly was absolutely sick of it.
I have both vaccinations as do most people I personally know and I feel a bit safer now with those two shots. I feel more comfortable socializing with other people – not that I have because I don’t have time – but I hope I can soon get together with some close friends to sit on an outdoor patio and catch up for the first time since last year over a cold brew or two.
We all need that respite from COVID restrictions. We need to feel a semblance of what life was like before COVID changed life so dramatically and quickly. We need to begin making baby steps to stop living in fear, although the spectre of COVID will always worry me even if numbers keep going down and we can see the worst is perhaps permanently over.
Right now, we’re just in the beginning stages of freedom and I sure hope we can all make it last. In light of how my winning numbers never turn up on lottery tickets, I’m hedging my bets, though.

Follow @albeebHerald on Twitter

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