The mayor of Honolulu has recently mandated that anyone who is outside must wear a mask if that person is less than six feet away from someone else. That means that masks must be available for use to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Last week, while my wife and I were strolling our 16-month old “adopted grandson,” we noticed four unmasked teenage girls ever-so-slowly coming towards us. They covered the entire narrow sidewalk as they walked abreast of one another.
My wife and I hoped that the young ladies would don masks and quickly move in a single file to bypass us safely. No way! They just came blithely inching towards us. My wife waved to them to pick up speed so that our exposure to them would be minimal. No such luck! The girls, oblivious to or unmoved by my wife’s gesture, continued to approach side by side, still wearing no masks.
When they eventually came beside us, my wife turned us and the baby carriage towards the road and held our breath until the unfazed entourage departed.
Ever since Hawaii has partially opened, many young people have incorrigibly ignored conforming to social distancing and wearing masks. But there are exceptions, and I am thankful for that. Often in my walks (I always wear a mask, even though it itches), when I get near a person who is holding a mask, he or she puts it on to avoid any contamination, whether we are inside a building or outside one.
Last week, I noticed that a young man at the Waikiki Safeway had no mask on as he walking about. I asked him if he had a mask handy. He was dumbfounded. He didn’t realize that his mask was in his hand and not on his face. He apologized, thanked me for reminding him, and securely put on his mask.
Today, I inadvertently did a good deed. Just as I was nearing my Leisure Heritage condo on my next to the last lap around the block, I saw one of the familiar older residents walking in the opposite direction without a mask. After he saw me, he abruptly returned to his condo. Half way on my last lap, I saw him at an intersection. He had a mask on. I guess seeing that I had my mask on had reminded him that he needed to retrieve his own mask.
I don’t like to correct people who don’t wear masks when it is essential that they do so. Yesterday, I was tempted to tell a young woman at Whole Foods that her mask didn’t cover her nose, an all too common lapse around town. But I unaccountably refrained, at least this time.
To intervene or not to intervene, that is the question.