Do As We Say, Not As We Do

Face coverings became mandatory on public transport in Northern Ireland today. It has been widely publicised and staff at bus and train stations have been handing out free masks to commuters throughout the week. So, model citizen that I am, I duly boarded the train this morning with my mask on. This is no easy task for a spectacle wearing gentleman who fogged up immediately and clambered into his seat, grasping for purchase like a drunken sailor.

The 08:28 express to Belfast would normally be standing room only and I’d be ‘enjoying’ the commuting experience with my nose wedged in some fellow traveler’s armpit. But, since returning to work, the trains have been near empty. I’m not sure if a lot of people are working from home or avoiding public transport at the minute. Either way I had the luxury of a double seat all to myself as I sat back and surveyed my surroundings.

Imagine my surprise, therefore, when I observed a fellow passenger, several seats in front of me, boarding the train without a mask. Bold as brass he summoned the conductor to buy a ticket. Here we go, I thought, he will be put in his place in no uncertain terms and told to affix said face covering immediately. But no, the ticket was purchased without any form of query or challenge by the powers of law and order. Hmmm, I thought, this can’t be right.

Thinking I had gotten my dates wrong I checked the Translink N.I. Twitter feed. Nope. FACE MASKS ARE MANDATORY ON ALL TRAINS AND BUSES FROM 10 JULY. It was everywhere. I googled the meaning of ‘mandatory.’ Something that is required, compulsory, obligatory. That’s fairly clear, I thought, wiping my condensed glasses as I squinted at the screen of my phone. I decided to query it via a tweet. How very daring, I know.

To be fair, the head tweeter at Translink N.I. responded within minutes to inform me that some passengers were exempt from wearing masks for medical reasons. Fair enough I replied, but the conductor I observed at no point asked the passenger if there was a reason as to why he had boarded the train without a face covering. Gotcha, I thought, wriggle out that one Head Tweeter Person. Game, set and match to moi.

Oh no. Quick as you like, my inbox chirped to reveal that I was most mistaken. Persons with medical exemptions are not required to provide evidence of said exemption. And, whilst the wearing of face coverings was mandatory, staff are much too busy to check up on people not wearing them. It is just assumed that they have a perfectly good reason for not doing so and are allowed to carry on regardless while the rest of us frown from behind said masks.

I bit my lip and was on the verge of replying but then concluded it was clearly a pointless exercise. Head Tweeter person was wasted in social media and should certainly pursue a career in politics such was their skill at avoiding simple questions and twisting and turning the truth to suit their needs at that particular moment. Do as we say, not as we do. They were clearly making up the policy as they went along in order to protect a colleague who couldn’t be bothered doing their job.

The gentleman in question could have had a perfectly plausible explanation for not wearing a face covering. A polite question would have gathered that reason and set my mind at ease as we hurtled through the Northern Irish countryside towards the city. But let’s not rock the boat and cause a scene. As long as we look good in the media who cares if the virus spikes again and me and my family are placed at unnecessary risk. Well played, Translink N.I.

Published by Fractured Faith Blog

We are Stephen and Fionnuala and this is our story. We live in Northern Ireland, have been married for 17 years and have three kids - Adam, Hannah and Rebecca. We hope that our story will inspire and encourage others. We have walked a rocky road yet here we are today, together and stronger than ever. We are far from perfect and our faith has been battered and bruised. But an untested faith is a pointless faith. Just as a fractured faith is better than none at all. We hope you enjoy the blog.

19 thoughts on “Do As We Say, Not As We Do

  1. Unfortunately, this is very common here in the United States as well. I have asthma and just recently recovered from pneumonia. I still wear a mask knowing I can easily catch this disease and unknowingly spread it to others long before symptoms present themselves. I strongly feel as though people are so entitled, they forget their actions affect others.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. From all that I have re-researched and personally know from working for 21 years donned in a mask, gown and gloves, there are few, if any, medical reasons that exempt one from wearing a mask, especially for the short time one is shopping for necessities or commuting to work. If one is that medically fragile they need to stay safe at home or absolutely be wearing a mask in public.Great post, as always – thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. My wife and I had a similar experience in Basel a few days ago. Masks on public transport also became compulsory from Monday, 6th July. (Posts of our travels to come shortly btw). An elderly gentleman got onto the tram and was almost immediately quizzed by, and/or had quizzical looks from, 2 fellow passengers. The old-timer rambled on for several minutes, presumably explaining why he wasn’t wearing a mask, but it was all in German so I’ve no idea what he was saying. Another guy had the mask over his chin but not over his mouth and nose. Again he got some odd looks, but he just shrugged his shoulders. So, sadly, it does seem that people have similar attitudes the whole world over.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I know everyone has different opinions about this and even doctors have different opinions about what is safe and what is unsafe. Either way I cannot wait until we don’t have to wear a mask anymore because I truly cannot stand it!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The present scenario is dangerous for letting that go like that. I think people should respectively wear masks to avoid the panic.

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  6. Same. I went to one of the hot zones in US over the weekend and was shocked people are so chill about not putting on face mask. On the plane, a gentleman who sat two rows behind me refused to wear one after the flight attendants tried to ask him to put it on. He said he couldn’t breath, so they left him alone. I couldn’t believe.

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  7. I totally agree with you that people should wear the masks since that is what we have been told is helping to protect others. At risk of being shouted down though – I wonder is it really the conductor’s job to police this? Have they had any training whatsoever in how to deal with customers who choose not to follow the rules? What do they do if that passenger decides to kick off and give them grief? Maybe I’m wrong but I do feel for people who work in sectors where now there are many changes being brought in due to COVID-19. They are often minimally paid staff who suddenly have to deal with policing new regulations that they have had no training for. That may not be the case in this situation but I guess I just wouldn’t like to be in their position either.

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    1. The conductor is responsible for the adherence to regulations on board. I wouldn’t expect the driver to do it. Other than that there is nobody to do it. I have heard stories of train staff being assaulted and abused about other matters when challenged. It’s a tough rule to enforce, I agree.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Regardless of whether or not required to provide proof of exemption, if the authorities are seen asking, people will be less likely to abuse this fact, or try to get away with just not wearing one for no particular reason. I have a very well-bitten lower lip.

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  9. I often wonder the thought process which goes on when going against seemingly logical rules. We have been lucky here in New Zealand to not have reached a point wearing a mask became compulsory – yet.

    Stay vigilant everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

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