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An unofficial survey of mask-wearing in the United States

By Randy Wright | China Daily | Updated: 2021-03-02 08:35
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Randy Wright [Photo/China Daily]

I seldom venture outside my home these days, as most of the United States continues to struggle with the pandemic. But when I do go out-which is necessary now and then-I take mental notes about my fellow US citizens and their attitudes about wearing face masks.

I admit my casual survey techniques are loose, biased, judgmental, prejudicial and surely unfair, but that doesn't mean the results are not true. Yes, mask-wearing provides a barometer of social responsibility and an index of personality type.

I've boiled down my research into a few categories that crop up frequently, and I've tabulated the scientific results for each with pinpoint accuracy.

Nose protruders: At 18.3 percent of the total, these are folks who walk around with a mask covering their mouths but not their noses, which makes no sense.

These people remind me of a dog I once had: My house had a carpeted sitting room, where I often relaxed; the adjacent kitchen had a colder tile floor. The kitchen was the dog's domain. He knew he was forbidden to lie on the carpet in the sitting room, so he invented a solution. He would stretch out full length on the forbidden carpet but extend a paw far backward so that the tip of one toe touched the tile. There is a certain logic here, but I think he missed the point.

Nose protruders are like this, as they comply with the letter of the law but violate the underlying concept of mask-wearing. Obviously, wearing a mask on your face does not count the same as wearing it properly on your face.

I'm sorry to admit that when passing a nose protruder, I often make physical and audible remonstrance, staring with furrowed brow and muttering something that might be obscene if one turned up the volume.

Neck warmers: This group, at 1.2 percent, are nose protruders on steroids. They wear their masks-more accurately called scarves-below the jaw line. Yes, it's true. I once observed (a little too loudly) while standing in the supermarket checkout line that a face mask really doesn't do any good if it fails to cover one's face. Get it? Face mask. Sensing rising anger, I quickly sought safety in another checkout line.

Half-and-halfers: At 14.8 percent, this group can at least be understood. Usually, it consists of a parent wearing a mask while trying to navigate the supermarket aisles with unmasked children. I can appreciate the difficulty of keeping an unruly kid in a mask, so these parents at least get half credit.

Since small children rank low on the contagion scale, I usually keep the annoyance to myself.

It should be noted that 50.4 percent of children in this group wear their masks with no problem. The unmasked brats (bless their hearts) are just getting an early start on a pattern of rowdy American social disobedience, which will certainly lead one day to an attack on the US Capitol in Washington.

Angry macho men: At 19.1 percent, these usually middle-aged, overweight Trump voters with too much testosterone come to the supermarket barefaced and score lowest on the social scale.

"I'm not sick, so why should I wear a mask?""The coronavirus is a hoax." "Science is a hoax.""The government can't take away my freedom." "I have a big gun collection, and I may be packing one now."

You get the picture. I often mutter something obscene as I pass such specimens, but not quite loud enough to start a fight.

Normal people: At 92.5 percent of my scientific survey, these are the ordinary Americans with a social conscience who are making an effort to control the coronavirus. It doesn't help that there are so many leaks.

I yearn for more Chinese-style social consciousness, which makes things so much easier compared with US individualism. Meanwhile, I must place my hope in vaccines because so many of my fellow citizens are, in fact, idiots.

By the way, if you notice that my percentages do not add up to 100, it doesn't mean they are not true.

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