Yes, I know I need a haircut. My return to post lockdown society has not included a visit to the barbers yet. I hope to fit it in soon. Or allow Fionnuala and Adam to do it, seeing as they did such a good job last time. But today’s post is about my mask wearing adventures on public transport, which became mandatory in Northern Ireland last week. It’s also looking likely this will apply to shops in the near future.
Staff at Translink N.I. have been preparing commuters for several weeks now by handing out free masks at bus and rail stations. So, nobody has an excuse for not knowing the requirement or having access to a face covering. That aside, the buses and trains have been largely empty as many people are still working from home or avoiding this form of transport. I invariably have a carriage to myself, although that doesn’t negate the need for me to cover up.
I felt faintly ridiculous when I first donned my mask upon entering the station complex. I resembled a surgeon who had gotten somewhat lost. This soon disappeared, however, when I realised that everyone else was in the same boat. Some had their own coverings, of every shade and colour, while others opted for scarves or alternate coverings wrapped tightly round their mouth and nose. We were all in this together. Oh, except for under 13’s and those who were medically exempt.
Translink N.I. have been criticised, by myself included, for not sufficiently enforcing this public health requirement. The message seems to have got through for the media have been reporting of persons being refused travel for refusing to don one. And, as I entered the complex yesterday, everyone I saw was wearing one. Apart from one elderly lady on my platform who I can only assume was exempt. It was a sparsely populated platform, where normally it would be shoulder time shoulder.
My problem with masks is not the actual wearing of them, but rather the mechanics of the operation. The second I slip mine over my ears, my glasses start to steam up and I find myself stumbling about like a drunken zombie. There is an art to affixing said face covering to avoid fogging up but I’ve yet to quite master it. I staggered onto my carriage, grateful that the lack of fellow travellers meant there were no further mishaps.
Then there’s the small matter of breathing itself. I felt a little short of breath and claustrophobic, although much of that may have been in my head, due to the novelty of the scenario. Let’s just say, I’m glad I didn’t pursue a career as a submariner or miner. I don’t like having my face covered but for the sake of a 25 minute train journey, could just about manage. That said, I was relieved to arrive at my stop and remove the mask the second I stepped off the train.
While some seem to think the crisis is behind us, I’m not so sure, therefore have no problem with wearing a mask when required to do so. There were 19 new positive cases in Northern Ireland yesterday, largely due to a cluster resulting from a house party where revellers shared the same microphone during a karaoke session. Such irresponsibility and selfishness does not help us fight the common enemy of coronavirus. It was deeply disappointing news to read.
So I’ll blunder on with my steamed up spectacles. I might look slightly silly but sometimes you have to set your own vanity aside for the greater good. I look a tad foolish and I’m badly in need of a trim but it’s a small price to pay in the midst of a global pandemic. I’d be interested to hear your face covering stories so feel free to comment below and share your experiences with us all. Thank you for reading and please stay safe.