My Turn: Let’s all do our parts: Wear a good mask, be fully vaccinated

  • Gerry Gariepy wearing a mask in the supermarket. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Published: 1/26/2022 2:14:15 PM
Modified: 1/26/2022 2:12:58 PM

I just talked with two people who told about how much they miss seeing peoples’ mouths. They both are conscientious about wearing their masks and think it’s very important, but not seeing a person’s mouth is a big loss to them.

A friend we hadn’t seen since the beginning of the pandemic told us an interesting story about his hearing loss. He said he didn’t realize how adept he had become at lip reading until the pandemic started and masks covered the mouths that he’d come to depend on to supplement his deafness. With mask-covered mouths and no lip reading possible, he had to invest in hearing aids. It is amazing how we can adapt and learn new ways to compensate when one part of our body is failing.

Later that same day, I called an old girlfriend to wish her a happy birthday, and she too brought up the subject about missing peoples’ mouths. She talked about how expressive the mouth is, how it shows how people feel and how much she misses seeing smiles. She said she tries to show feelings with her eyes, “I crinkle them up to show a smile, but they just can’t do what a mouth does.”

After hearing these comments and discussing them with Gerry, I thought a mask story might be interesting to write so I talked with a few others.

One friend said, “One thing I don’t have to do anymore is put on makeup. It would get all smudged anyway if I did. The mask hides my pale lips and age spots.” Her comment made me realize how the pandemic must be hurting the cosmetic industry.

I talked with our former Swiss exchange student who lived with us for a year so she could attend school in America and learn English. She said COVID is a big problem in Switzerland too and it has affected their custom for greeting each other. The Swiss, like most Europeans, greet friends with a kiss on each cheek. Masks hide the cheeks and she misses the warm expression of greeting she’s had all her life.

Then I heard a totally different kind of reaction from a young person who found a benefit from wearing the mask. She works with the public and sometimes has to deal with grumpy and demanding customers. She says she’s pleasant and patient to them on the outside, but behind the mask she gets her release from the unnecessary nasty comments by sticking out her tongue, something she couldn’t have done without a mask.

Her comment made me think about how everyone’s emotions have been affected by the fear, isolation, and economic changes we are experiencing. Everyone is more irritable, but we must remember to be kind to the people who serve us. They have even more stresses than we do. Their work with the public puts them at high risk. They need to be appreciated.

Gerry says he misses seeing a person’s whole face. He said it’s sometimes hard to recognize who a person is when all we see are their eyes, especially if they are wearing a hat, and more especially if they are at a distance.

I don’t like the way the mask muffles the voice. I have to work at listening rather than relax and listen. Some people realize that their voice is muffled, and pull down their mask when they talk and of course that completely defeats the purpose of the mask. A no-no!

Whether we’re happy with wearing a mask or not, it definitely is a prevention against COVID, and we were recently told by a doctor who works closely with the disease to wear the KN95 mask whenever we go inside a building, that it gives the best protection against the omicron variant which is so contagious.

So, let’s all do our parts, wear a good mask, be fully vaccinated ... and let peoples’ faces return. We’ll appreciate smiles and kisses more than we ever did, and maybe even learn to read lips.

Carole Gariepy, who lives in Phillipston, is a frequent contributor to the opinion page.


Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Greenfield Recorder, keeping Franklin County informed since 1792.

Greenfield Recorder

14 Hope Street
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Phone: (413) 772-0261


Copyright © 2021 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy