“You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.”
Dear Cranky Old Lady,
You gave me quite a shock this week, when you turned to see me behind you in the Post Office.
I was wearing a face mask. That upset you very much.
You began to abuse me for wearing the mask, yelling loudly at me, and then you tried to pull the mask off my face.
I’m not quite sure why you were so angry, but you certainly were. Over and over you pointed out that no-one else was wearing a mask, and that we don’t need to wear one any more. ‘Take it off. Take the damned mask off!’ you kept shouting.
There was no point trying to talk with you, so I turned around and left. Then I sat in my car until I felt that I was okay to drive again. My heart was racing. I was shaking. I hoped your spittle that landed on my face and in my eye was not a vector for any kind of germs. I was upset with myself that you had rattled me so badly.
After a while, I wondered whether you were just mean, or maybe if you had dementia or anxiety. I felt bad for you, because I had obviously upset you too.
But you aren’t the only one. I’ve been loudly abused three times in the past four weeks for continuing to wear a mask, and trust me when I say I don’t go out much. ‘Crazy paranoid bitch’, one guy called me. Another told me I was ‘a fascist and a bloody dickhead’. One young woman ranted at me as I tried to walk through a grocery store early one morning, telling me that masks didn’t work, that I needed to wake up, that people like me needed to stop oppressing others, and that she was trying to educate me about the dangers of facemasks because I was destroying my blood cells, depriving my body of oxygen and could die.
Some shop assistants, who have dealt for months with people wearing face masks, now say to me, ‘What? What? Sorry, I can’t hear you. Can you take your mask off?’ while eye-rolling and then talking behind my back while I am still in earshot to complain about me. Other strangers, while not abusive, have come to tell me that I can take my mask off and that I don’t need it anymore.
Sorry. I do.
My cardiologist and other specialist medical physicians insists that I wear a mask in public, that I avoid large gatherings, and that I don’t dine indoors at cafes or restaurants. I have an enlarged heart, chronic systemic illness, a badly compromised immune system, and a degenerative neurological condition. Although I am vaccinated, it is better for me to avoid COVID, the flu and any other germs that are circulating in my community. I wore a mask BEFORE the pandemic when I was in periods of high risk. I will likely wear a mask in various situations for the rest of my life. A mask has prevented illness before, and I am counting on it as an extra line of defense now. My husband wears one too, because if he becomes ill he will bring infection home to me.
I also received this message sent to one of my inboxes just before the floods here on the East Coast of Australia:
“This is for all of us …
If you do not support the protesters IT’S OKAY because:
If mandates get lifted I would like to remind you:
*You can still stay home. No one will rip the mask off your face
*No one will force you to dine in at a restaurant
*You can drop your children off at their leisure activity and wait in your car
*You can still say no to family gatherings and events
*You can live within your 4 walls and NO ONE will stop you.
*You can still choose to not employ people who have done no wrong and have been a true loyal hard worker for many years
*You can choose to not let people into your business who have supported you since you opened
I will not judge you for your choice – I will just be glad you have one.
That is the point of FREEDOM of choice!
A member of the small fringe minority with unacceptable views
You stay safe, I will stay free!”
I have always supported personal choice, and I uphold this person’s right to theirs. I’m so glad for the majority of people who can return to a more normal life, who don’t have to wear masks, who can invite people to their home or go out to dinner or to a movie and not have to think twice. But this message is ableism in action. It actively discriminates against the disabled and those with health issues. And sorry, it’s judge-y. You ARE judging me. This is passive aggression directed at me!
For us, there is no freedom. Yes, it’s our choice to wear a mask, or to stay home. To remain in the car while we drop children at their leisure activity, or to miss the family gathering or meeting up with friends. For some of us it’s a choice between maintaining some kind of quality of life, or adding to our health complications, or perhaps even dying. Or possibly harming or ending the life of a vulnerable loved one. That isn’t really a choice, is it?
So many people in the disabled community, and chronic and terminal illness community are now effectively prisoners in their own homes. Their freedoms have been severely limited, and they are stuck within four walls. You don’t see us. We’re mostly invisible, and many of this community are already too tired, too sick and too dispirited to add ‘convincing the general public of their need to wear a mask and socially distance’ to their list of things to do when they are already struggling with the basics of simply living.
For those of you now enjoying your freedom but who have problems with mask wearers and people still limited by their disability or health issues, can I ask that you consider practising inclusion and empathy? That you might try compassion and kindness?
I would like to sat that your ignorance and ableism do not affect me, but they do. I already have enough on my plate. I don’t need your hostility and judgement too.
15 thoughts on “Dear Cranky Old Lady And Other Abusive People Who Are Upset At My Mask Wearing”
Hi Nicole, My friend writes on the front of her disposable mask, ” Cancer ” since starting this she gets no comments , shes got enough to worry about without expending her precious energy arguing or excusing people ,( she has even written “F##k off ” one time when she was feeling particularly brassy , she said she felt quite empowered) may not appeal to you but food for thought. Stay strong xx L
Your self control is amazing. I’m afraid I would England the situation terribly by giving an absolute gobful right back. Such entitled attitudes you are coming across. How dare they. But they don’t know that you are stronger than any of their words. You’ve endured what many could not, and you can weather any storm xo
Others have already said so much of what I’d want to say. Us maskers need to stand together and be strong!!! You are one of my heroes!
Like you I have had people yell at me for wearing a mask as well. Usually, I will think to myself “you must be having a bad day, may you find the peace and calm you so need.” Sometimes I will say it out loud and bless them for their concern – usually confuses them. However once in a while I feel argumentative and I will say I have allergies and when the pollen/mold count is high or there is a lot of air pollution I need to wear a mask. I have been doing this long before masks were a political hot potato and will continue wearing them as long as my health requires it. At this point most people back off and apologize but there is always the one. They always seem to scream about rights but I do get a perverse bit of satisfaction when they tell me we have the right to not wear a mask and I agree with them. Then I say but we also have the right to wear one if we want or it is needed. I sometimes enjoy tweaking people and always wish them well afterwards with a true smile.
A wise women once told to not let the turkeys keep me from flying with the eagles and/or angels.
i am very sorry this happened to you.
It angers and shatters me that you have to bear with such atrociously ill mannered people. In a country where freedom to not wear the mask is being practised, where does it become okay to bury the freedom to “wear a mask” ?
Seriously ,all of us need to introspect when we make demands of other people’s lives, whether we would like such demands being pounded on us. You know better why such experiences have to come into your life, nonetheless it saddens me deeply.
Lots of love,prayers and wishes
Nicole, I am so sorry people are being so disrespectful to you! I have been lucky that no one has said anything to me…yet. No matter what, I will continue to wear a mask until I feel it’s safe to stop doing so. The high school where my husband teaches has gone “mask optional.” A fair number of his French students continue to mask, but very few other teachers are masking. Numbers are low right now, but we are heading into another wave, with Omicron variant BA.2 on the increase in America. It’s already the dominant variant in the UK & much of Europe, and it’s creating havoc in Hong Kong & lock downs in China.
I fear this Spring is going to be rough.
Dear Nicole, I’m so sorry. Even though my husband and I continue to wear masks and limit our activities because of his medical issues – we’re definitely in the mask minority – we have yet to experience anyone mentioning our masks much less face the anger and comments you have. My heart goes out to you and all those who have had similar experiences. Love Brenda
Dearest Nicole reading this post made me cry so loudly my dear huz came in to see if I was okay
You keep wearing your mask and how dare ANYONE invade your space and lay hands on you
I have similar experiences with using my Disabled Permit because people should look at the permit NOT the person and I don’t look disabled but I am and I get challenged often
Why on earth would you wear a mask if you were fit and well and if you did not have to and you most certainly do NOT have to explain yourself to anyone
I wear a face shield because I have trouble breathing so masks are out and if any smart arse challenges me I tell them “This is for MY safety NOT yours”
Please remember we are not all inconsiderate and please do not let the nay sayers upset you 🤗
What?! So weird how can people be bothered by what other people choose to do with their own body? If it dosen’t affect you carry on don’t worry about it. It could be said about heaps of things, people are so weird sometimes.
I feel for you Nicole. That is not okay that people feel entitled to abuse or educate you while wearing a mask. In Brisbane I often see people wearing masks and automatically assume they have health concerns/compromised immunity, no one is bothered. In fact my pharmacist and Drs surgery still insist on all patrons wearing masks and I notice bus drivers wear them too. Take care and keep wearing your mask ❤
Some people are just rude and don’t think of others many people feel better with a mask and that’s fine with me
I am grateful that here in Scotland it is still mandatory to wear a mask in shops, restaurants and other indoor places where people mix. It is not a problem, we are told to do it to protect ourselves and others and 99% of the population comply happily. I do not understand people who seem to think it is an infringement of their human rights! Sorry you are having the hassle Nicole x x
Oh Nicole that’s horrible..the message in your inbox..how horrible..like don’t go out you might blight someone’s view..and how dare you be unwell and have different needs…like the need to protect yourself…and the need to get out and have a life for yourself in whatever way you need to have a life….people don’t shout at women for wearing head scarves because they have no hair after cancer treatment, people don’t try and shove people roughly out of a wheel chair’or grab an elderly persons walking stick and insist that they walk without it because they have two legs and are semi upright…what’s wrong with people they are so rude and ignorant…you wear a mask..so what. Any fool should know that you are protecting yourself and that your health is compromised….and even if it wasn’t you should be able to wear whatever you like and that includes a mask……anyway it’s nobody’s business what you do…..I’m just gobsmacked by this….maybe it might just be time to tell someone that they should take their opinion of you and your mask….and…place or stick it firmly up their own arse”….as you turn and walk away thinking “I don’t mean you any harm but enough is enough, and a girl’s gotta have claws, and even show them sometimes….” then maybe as you walked you could laugh or smile quietly to yourself or just cackle a tiny witchy bit…sending all the love…
Nicole, I am so sorry you are having to endure other people’s inconsideration and inability to be educated about health issues. We in our household all have health issues, and we are happy to wear masks when we are out of our house. Praying that you have an easier time when you are out in public.