Shopping with a mask – an experiment

An increasing number of people are starting to wear a mask over their mouth and nose. How does it feel to wear a mask? How do other people react to me wearing one? I wanted to know the answers to these questions so I decided to do an experiment.

Before entering a drugstore, I mount the mask lovingly made by a friend, a refugee. There is not much happening, even though the stock of toilet paper has just been refilled. The first customer I encounter smiles at me very kindly. That bolsters my courage. First obstacle: my glasses are starting to fog up. My breath is warmer than necessary for the still cold lenses of my glasses.

In the bakery, where I have to wait in a queue, the saleswoman looks at me unpleasantly. I have to repeat my order a little louder, apparently, she did not understand me. But after I end up buying a lot of things everything seems to be fine and she wishes me a nice day.

At the optician’s, where I am registered and the only customer present, the young employee is very enthusiastic. He too dons on a mask and keeps his distance while measuring the values for a new pair of glasses prescribed by my doctor. At the post office, I am also greeted in a friendly manner. The customer, who wants to enter the shop with a parcel after me, is rudely told: “Wait outside!”

Now I’m off to the supermarket for the “stress test”. New for me are security people who check if you are using a shopping trolley to keep your distance or not. People are rather disciplined and I see a few masked colleagues. During the encounters in the aisles young people squeeze themselves even more to the side. Is it because of my mask? Sometimes I also get a (pitiful?) smile. But there is also the typical excited housewife, who needs to squeeze herself from between two people.

Finally, I approach the cash register and observe how two young women misbehave grossly They push themselves past everyone without keeping adequate distance because they forgot something while shouting loudly „Entschuldigung!!“ (Excuse me). They learnt that in my language course. I recognize them as my former students. They wave to me and I wave back while trying to make a disapproving face.

I feel prepared now when the mask obligation begins. Other countries have already mandated masks. In Germany, the discussion is in full swing: several prime ministers are in favor of compulsory masks if the regulations are to be relaxed. Some doctors still disagree, but even the Robert Koch Institute has moved away from its negative stance.


Impressionen zum Leben in Zeiten der Corona-Pandemie: Foto: tünews INTERNATIONAL; Mostafa Elyasian, 15.04.2020

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