Face masks demonstrate our concern for fellow citizens, clients


Until some four weeks ago, I had worn a mask in public exactly once in my life. As a young, penniless graduate student, I came down with viral pneumonia while some 1,000 miles from home. I had been on a work trip, and the only way to get home was to climb into a crowded airplane and suffer the misery of a long, uncomfortable flight. I was sick, though, and risked endangering the health of not just the poor souls seated next to me but many others as well.

So I did what I thought any conscientious citizen of the air should do: I bought a mask and wore it proudly. The side-eye from my fellow passengers was palpable, and ironic: I knew they thought I couldn’t trust them, but in truth they couldn’t trust me. One fellow seated across the aisle from me made a light-hearted joke about what a germaphobe I must be. I told him why I was wearing it and he thanked me profusely. But there was no real heroism that day: I was only doing what I ought to have done.