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Planes, Trains, Buses and Our Old Adversary, COVID19: Some Thoughts on Masks and Mass-Transit

October 31, 2021
Photo by Saman Tsang on Unsplash

I was riding Amtrak this past week, on my way to New York to spend some time with the kid. She’s working in Manhattan and living in Brooklyn and now I always have a place to stay that comes with some of the best hugs ever. Yeah! If you are not already aware, mass transit, like the train as well as buses, planes, cabs and Uber, requires masks. The rule is for everyone’s health and safety, by federal mandate. So, back to the train ride. I was showing my ticket to the conductor when a passenger came up the aisle and laid into him about another passenger who was going mask-less. The passenger was irate. He was screaming, “I paid for a ticket on a safe train, where people are masked!” The conductor was so calm. He addressed the situation in short-order and the passenger sat down. When the conductor came back to finish with me, I could see the frustration and exhaustion in him, even behind his mask. I told him how well he had handled the situation, and that I work in retail, so I appreciated what he must go through. He said, “This is my life, my daily life, and it’s gotten old, I mean really, incredibly old!” I really felt for this poor man. The whole thing got me thinking about mass-transit and masks, and so I offer the following thoughts….

Photo by Jacques Bopp on Unsplash

It’s The Law

According to the CDC, this is the current law (Executive Order 13998) about masks and public transit: On January 29, 2021, CDC issued an Order that requires face masks to be worn by all people while on public transportation (which includes all passengers and all personnel operating conveyances) traveling into, within, or out of the United States and U.S. territories. So, according to The Center For Disease Control, if you ride on mass-transit (with few exceptions, like kids under 2 years of age) you have to mask up. This law is meant to protect you, the staff of the mode of transit, and your fellow passengers.

Photo by Adam Nemeroff on Unsplash

Please Be Kind

The staff of these buses, planes, cabs and trains are human beings. They did not make up this law themselves and they are not trying to be difficult. However, they are charged with enforcing this law. The conductor on my train is not alone. There are hundreds of incidents like this happening every day in America… on planes, trains and buses. So I think we could all benefit from some great advice from Fred Rogers. Yes, Fred Rogers, the famous guy, with the cardigan and the neighborhood, who said this, “There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.”  In this situation, hell, in almost every situation where we interact with our fellow humans, this is a good way to go. I’m sure everyone on mass-transit will appreciate it.

Photo by Mark Cruz on Unsplash

If You Can’t Comply, For Whatever Reason, Consider Alternatives

Since the onset of COVID19, we have seen terrible loss in this country. There are lots of new and confusing rules that change on the daily. However, we are, as my daughter Charlotte is fond of saying, getting graded as a group. What you do or don’t do affects your fellow Americans in ways we never knew or appreciated before. So let’s all be good citizens by wearing masks on public transportation and be kind and respectful to others whilst doing it. What do you say? I think that’s pretty doable. If you can’t, because it goes against what you believe, I get you. This is still America and you have that right; I wholeheartedly believe that. But please, for all our sakes, exercise that right by staying off mass-transit or by making your way on your own. We will all be healthier for it.

For More On The Topic

For more information on kind behavior please see my previous blog: Why Are Customers So Rude? Some Random Thoughts on Keeping It Civil Out There.

A Final Thought…

I hope you will all stay well… I hope you will all be safe… I hope you will all chose kindness… on mass-transit… and everywhere else. Have a lovely Sunday.

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