By Dawn Ayers
Recently I was rushing out of a restaurant with what was essentially “Brunch” to drop off to a friend who was having her mother-in-law hospice in her home rather than a facility due to COVID restrictions. It was the least I could do to help my friend with her sad task at hand. As someone was holding open the door for me at the restaurant, I heard from behind me a sarcastic “Ummm… Thank you?!” I was so embarrassed! I stopped, turned around, and yelled “Sorry! Thank you!” but they were already inside the restaurant. I was so disappointed with myself for being rude – had my wearing a mask made me mute? This wasn’t like me at all. Why the change?
Working in IT as an “Essential Business,” many of us are working from offices and required to wear masks. Trying to have a conversation, either the mask slips down off your nose all the time or the paper ones suck the breath in and out till you look like someone from outer space saying, “Take me to your leader!” (my boss finds my paper mask conversations very amusing and distracting from what I am saying).
Even in the hallways, we used to share a quick smile, greeting, or a hand wave. But, lately, everyone seems like they are on a mission. If you do smile – they can’t see it – but instead, there is silence. In the office, we sit in our spaces dutifully distanced apart – avoid gathering in the kitchen to grab a coffee – so much more muted.
Mindfully “unmuting” to express a sincere “thanks” despite the new way of navigating our work lives, personal lives, and family obligations is so essential. We are all working harder than ever to keep things going and be successful in challenging and uncertain times. Although we have added masks to our wardrobe, it shouldn’t remove good manners and expressions of appreciation towards our workmates, customers, and those we encounter during our commute. Doing so promotes better teamwork and success in seeing through these circumstances together.