What a wonder to have unimpeded conversations again! Oh, the endless frustration of masks that distorted our voices such that simple communication became anything but simple.
Here, I recount a somewhat humorous encounter with a YMCA employee that occurred prior to the grand unmasking. I'd set out to have grandma time with Elsa at the pool and stopped at the desk to sign her in.
Employee: “What’s the name of your granddaughter?”
Me: “Elsa Pfefferle.”
Employee: “Would you spell that, please?”
Employee: “Sorry, mumble mumble mumble.”
Me: “What was that?”
Employee: “Mumble mumble not in the system.”
Me: “She was here for classes, she’s in your system.”
Employee: “Mumble, don’t (mumble) see…”
Me: “What’s that?”
Employee: “I don’t muffle something mumble…”
I shake my head. “What?”
Employee: “How’s it spelled?”
I think she says, “I don’t see it,” but I can’t tell. “What’s that?”
She shakes her head. “What’s your name?”
“Rebecca Rhoads, spelled, R-H-O-A-D-S.”
“No, I don’t see you mumble, muffle, muff.”
“Huh? I’ve been a member for three years.”
Worker becoming frustrated. “How is that spelled?” I repeat, as clearly as possible given the impediment over my lips.
“Sorry. You’re not in the system.”
“Funny, I’m getting billed every month.”
“Huh? What was that?”
“I’m in your system.” By now, my patience is being tried. I spell my name again.
“Oh. Now I see you.”
Gee, I hope so. She pushes a sign in sheet toward me, now speaking in the three inch space between two panels of safety glass. I can actually hear her.
“Go ahead and sign in.”
Finally, we’re getting somewhere. Eventually, Elsa and I make it beyond the desk and to the pool. Who’d have thought taking my granddaughter for a frolic at the pool would be so difficult!
We’ve all been there in the last year and a half, trying to decipher what someone is saying when their voice is distorted by various barriers. Masks were heralded as prime protection, barring total isolation. Folly, it turns out, as revealed in the recovered Fauci emails that, per his own words, underscored the futility of masking. The CDC knew masks wouldn’t protect us per a study it published, a meta analysis of the impact of masks in the general population to prevent the transmission of the flu virus (December 2019). The conclusion was masking in the general population was not effective in preventing transmission of the flu. One should note SARS CoV-2 is a smaller viral particle than the influenza virus. You can draw your own conclusion. I suppose wearing masks made people feel better because they were doing something, but feeling better, unfortunately, does not equate to a better outcome.
Fear is a powerful motivator, far greater than reason and logic when imminent death becomes the narrative of the day. Remember Chicken Little? Maybe we learned something, maybe not. For now, I celebrate how good it is to see faces again.
Post note: Shortly after the above encounter, a mask mandate was issued by the Michigan DHHS for two to four-year-olds for use at camp or daycare. Two-year-olds, such as Elsa’s sister, Ainsley, don’t even use a toilet. Four-year-olds such as Elsa wouldn’t leave them on. It didn’t work out so well.