Well it's been a really bad day, part II
January 17, 2022 8:59 PM   Subscribe

I went to pick up my car and my mechanic's helper decided this was the day to give me a hard time about my mask.

My 95s finally came and I was SO excited! Until the mechanic's helper, who has always been very nice to me, started giving me a hard time about my mask.

I looked him straight in the face and said, "I had pneumonia and was in the hospital for ten days and I feel as if I need to be careful."
He did acknowledge that I did need to be careful, yet went on how the holes were too big to catch covid, how I was breathing in poison--you get the idea, the regular routine. Hey, I have crazy in-laws, too!

I was furious but left and wrote out a letter (did not mail). I am QUITTING this mechanic, because his folks are unprofessional and inappropriate (not to mention condescending). No matter that I had him 20 years. (He's a tRUMP man but shut his mouth after I told him I would find another mechanic if he didn't stop talking politics with me. It seemed to work, till now).

Another viewpoint. I would never comment on someone's personal appearance. It seems so off the pale.

The question: What would you do when someone made fun of your mask?

I'm upset, gentle readers.
posted by intrepid_simpleton to Human Relations (53 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Do you understand this? "The holes were too big to stop the covid from entering" is what I meant.
posted by intrepid_simpleton at 9:00 PM on January 17, 2022

The question: What would you do when someone made fun of your mask?

There's no point in arguing with somebody who disbelieves even CDC guidance. You have no common reference for truth with him.

Honestly, what would I do? Depends on whether I wanted to stay with the mechanic or not.

Stay with the mechanic? "Okay, thanks. While you're at it, could you rotate the tires at the same time?"
Don't stay with the mechanic? "Okay, thanks. I'm not willing to deal with that. Please give me my keys back to my car, I'm leaving now."
posted by saeculorum at 9:07 PM on January 17, 2022 [23 favorites]

Well this guy has a chance of contracting a pretty miserable illness at best so I'd just look for a different place and not think about it too much.
posted by bleep at 9:17 PM on January 17, 2022 [3 favorites]

It's such a shitty time and I feel for you. I am definitely Team Mask. I was talking to someone on a dating app who told he told me he was partying on NYE and didn't care if his 3yo, 7yo and/or ex-wife got sick. I told him he was a jerk, then unmatched because how can I argue with that stupidity and selfishness? Unfortunately, we can't unmatch or block everyone we run into so my general policy is a deadpan zinger, then privately complaining someone who shares my values. I don't even want to repeat why my friend said about the careless COVID dad but damn it was dark and made me laugh.

Last week I got a drive-thru COVID test, then visited drug store after drug store to find a rapid test. I'm a teacher and so worried about getting COVID and then giving it to students or my elderly parents. I told the drive-thru technician how I was being so careful yet may have caught it. She gleefully replied, "It seems that only the careful people are getting COVID! I don't care at all and don't do anything to prevent it yet I haven't gotten sick yet!" I replied in a deadpan: "Oh, I see. I just don't want to kill my elderly parents." She covered her (masked) face laughing and apologized for it because she wasn't expecting such a serious response. I didn't share more but I privately thought mean things, namely, "Her stupidity is clearly why she's not a real nurse or doctor." This is perhaps unfair because the world is full of caring, smart, and serious COVID testers but that mean thought helped me feel a bit better in the moment.
posted by smorgasbord at 9:23 PM on January 17, 2022 [5 favorites]

Say, “thank you!” With a big smile and move on. They want a reaction or an argument. Don’t give it to them. I get this is frustrating. You are doing the right thing by protecting yourself and others. Me and our pile of KN95s appreciate it.
posted by Crystalinne at 9:25 PM on January 17, 2022 [7 favorites]

Write a bad Yelp and Google review. Find a new mechanic. Channel that anger into something either productive or fun. This idiot isn't worth more of your time. (Cripes!)
posted by eotvos at 9:25 PM on January 17, 2022 [9 favorites]

Response by poster: Just a clarification: What I meant was "How would you respond" not what "what would you do". Cause I know what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna quit that mechanic of 20 years. Did I mention I was upset?

smorgasbord: that's the most awful thing I've ever heard. If it were me I would be talking to the manager.

My mom says: "You can't fix stupid."
posted by intrepid_simpleton at 9:31 PM on January 17, 2022 [2 favorites]

This was his helper. I think if he's a good mechanic and you trust him that you'd be cutting off your nose to spite your face if you left. I would tell the boss that I don't think those kinds of comments are appropriate, and maybe he'll say something and maybe he won't. Either way, I'd give his comment all the consideration it deserves, which is to say, none.
posted by kate4914 at 9:35 PM on January 17, 2022 [13 favorites]

"I’ve heard different, but who knows?" and disengage.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:43 PM on January 17, 2022 [5 favorites]

“Yeah... so, about the car…”
posted by theory at 9:43 PM on January 17, 2022 [9 favorites]

It's totally L'esprit de l'escalier but i'd have said something on the order of "that's funny, my MD just told me I don't really have to change the oil in my car...."
posted by OHenryPacey at 9:56 PM on January 17, 2022 [73 favorites]

Where I live, masking requirements from spring 2020 have been in place continuously. I often don’t bother taking off my mask when walking between home (where I have to mask in my building’s lobby/elevators) and any other indoor establishment. One day last summer, some guy passing me the sidewalk decided to mutter “wearing a mask outside, pretty weird” loud enough for me to hear.

I mustered the same simple, non-engaging response several others here have mentioned: “Thanks man!” There’s no point in drawing out that particular interaction, because it’s guaranteed no minds will be changed.
posted by Ryon at 10:09 PM on January 17, 2022 [3 favorites]

"I only discuss health matters with my doctor and immediate family, thanks. Now what can you tell me about the car "
posted by brookeb at 10:59 PM on January 17, 2022 [7 favorites]

They're being a bully, it's not an actual conversation. If you respond in good faith, they can barrage you with a long list of "facts" that you can't refute, would waste your time, and make you feel dumb. If you get angry, you look like you're the crazy one and they're in control. Just make some kind of flat non-committal noise or "ok" and steer the conversation to wherever you need it to go.

The holes in masks argument is a misinterpretation of how N95s work - the standard specifies that 95% of particles at the 0.3 micron size must be filtered out, but the bare coronavirus can be as small as 0.05 microns. However, N95s are actually better at filtering things that are bigger or smaller than 0.3 microns.
posted by meowzilla at 11:48 PM on January 17, 2022 [8 favorites]

The question: What would you do when someone made fun of your mask?

One of the public service ads I heard on the radio a few months back claimed the masks may not prevent the wearer from getting Covid, but that they are more effective in keeping the wearer from passing it on — which I haven’t tried to verify.

But that might not stop me from saying 'the mask is protecting you from me, fool' if I were irritated enough, which I probably would be; and if they chose to interpret that as a statement that I had an active case, so be it.
posted by jamjam at 12:10 AM on January 18, 2022 [2 favorites]

In this particular situation, I would say I wanted to use cheap vegetable oil instead of that expensive synthetic stuff that big oil is always pushing. Facebook user moron314 said it was better than those brands like Pennzoil. I'd double down arguing for a minute or two and then say something like "ok, lets stop a moment and take a breath. I want to make sure I understand you. Are you saying that I have been mislead by people on the internet who are not actual car experts?"
If he says yes, then I follow up with "well, doesn't that sound like what happened with you and masks? Like 5 years ago there wasn't these claims about surgical masks making you breath in poison."
posted by Sophont at 12:44 AM on January 18, 2022 [4 favorites]

People like this are spoiling for a fight, and if you take it personally, they've won.

It's not about facts, you can't convince them because they don't believe in reality. They're also aggrieved and pushy.

Like, imagine being of the mindset that it's appropriate to go around badgering paying clients, at your workplace, about their attire.

"Interesting. I don't comment on what you wear. Now about the car."

I'd give the owner a heads up that an employee is hassling customers and trying to start arguments, and you expect professionalism. See what happens.
posted by champers at 2:41 AM on January 18, 2022 [12 favorites]

I'm a big fan of, "Thanks for the tip." Followed by an eye roll, if you're feeling saucy. And a dispassionate, "You do you," is always good.
posted by ailouros08 at 2:58 AM on January 18, 2022 [2 favorites]

“Well bless your heart.”
posted by sciencegeek at 3:05 AM on January 18, 2022 [11 favorites]

I also read that the Omnicron particles alone are small enough to get through a N95 but since they’re usually part of a larger droplet it’s not that big a deal. I don’t try to reason with people though.

As a lady raised (for good or for ill) to be a smiling, happy, and polite people pleaser, going from heart of glass to heart of stone in interactions with the public has been a big personal challenge. I feel ya.

My pat response. “Mmm. Ok. You’re one of those. How much is my bill? Thank you.” That’s it. You disdain me? You get to deal with stony Kim.

I wouldn’t ditch the mechanic if they’re good. I don’t need the stress right now of finding a new, trusted one. And I am also super excited about the first box of N95s I ever managed to score. Congrats!
posted by kimberussell at 3:54 AM on January 18, 2022 [6 favorites]

The question: What would you do when someone made fun of your mask?

A disdainful glance before I go back to looking at my phone?
posted by atrazine at 3:57 AM on January 18, 2022 [5 favorites]

I tend to assume that most of the faux-technical arguments against this or that cumbersome practice (such as mask wearing) are just poorly articulated expressions of legitimate frustrations. Looking at it that way, I'd probably say something that's vaguely supportive without agreeing with the factual claims -- something like, "yeah, there's no perfect solution but you do what you can and hope it helps. Stay healthy. Thanks for the new brakes."

As one who was bullied a lot when I was a kid, I know it's sometimes very difficult to react with such detachment, but maybe it could help you to consider why you cared so much about what your mechanic's helper had to say. Anxiety tends to set one up to react badly. In such a case, a hug (not from the mechanic, mind you) might be more helpful than a snappy retort.
posted by jon1270 at 4:14 AM on January 18, 2022 [8 favorites]

He did acknowledge that I did need to be careful, yet went on how the holes were too big to catch covid, how I was breathing in poison--you get the idea, the regular routine. Hey, I have crazy in-laws, too!

"I'm here to go my car fixed, not debate COVID, so please stop. "

I would absolutely tell the owner what happened, whether I stayed with him or not.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:17 AM on January 18, 2022 [8 favorites]

There is zero chance the owners don't know what he is doing. You are not the only person he has done this too. Notice the ease with which he did this at work to a stranger.

Smile and nod in the moment, change the subject, and never go back.
posted by archimago at 6:19 AM on January 18, 2022 [4 favorites]

The owner/mechanic is a Trumper. He'd probably be proud of his employee. No reason to alert him of his employee's comments.

Stony silence is becoming my go to. What can be said against such idiocy?
posted by tiny frying pan at 6:37 AM on January 18, 2022 [3 favorites]

In the vein of sarcastic comments I usually wish I said but didn't think of fast enough: “Oh, I didn't realize you were a doctor!!! How come you’re working at the mechanic shop then?”
posted by cgg at 7:12 AM on January 18, 2022 [4 favorites]

So, one of the stereotypical sexist-type comments I sometimes get from people who don't like me (disgruntled students, etc) is something along the lines of "arrogant" or intimidating or condescending. You know, bitch overstepping.

Those are so very hard to deal with (ie, walk that impossibly narrow line) in real life, but these types of interactions are kind of therapy, because I get to stop trying so damn hard and just let it rip.

They get some version of the thousand-yard-stare and something like "You just don't understand a lot of things, do you" or "the magic of electrostatic interactions is that they work even when you have no idea what they are" or even just "holes in the mask ... ?" or "well that's too bad" said in my most drippingly unacceptable TONE.
posted by Dashy at 8:30 AM on January 18, 2022 [4 favorites]

"Suck my entire dick and balls" is what I've been trotting out on the train, checkout lines, etc

(I have neither dick nor balls, which I think helps to sell the spirit of the response.)
posted by phunniemee at 8:31 AM on January 18, 2022 [23 favorites]

I would have done the same thing you did. If you gave him a very good reason for keeping one on and he STILL went after you, he's a ass. There's no point in getting into an argument with stupid and crazy and they're not going to listen to anything you say anyway, so you might as well leave and find someone else.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:40 AM on January 18, 2022

Response by poster: phunniemee, I am so glad I wasn't drinking my coffee when I read your comment.

You guys are articulating a lot of things I couldn't. Thank you for that. I am just one of those persons who gets struck dumb and I need to change that.
posted by intrepid_simpleton at 9:14 AM on January 18, 2022 [3 favorites]

What would I want to say?

"Hmm, you should write a letter to the world's immunologists about this! Call the president. They will want to hear your expert opinion. I am surprised you are wasting your talents during a global pandemic since you seem to be a mediocre mechanic" Cue mildly raised eyebrow, snatch keys from hand and leave.

WHat would I say? I would stumble over my words and have a glass of white wine when I go home.
posted by beccaj at 9:23 AM on January 18, 2022 [5 favorites]

dude will deliberately, unnecessarily antagonize a customer for play. what might he do angry or humiliated?
posted by 20 year lurk at 9:45 AM on January 18, 2022 [7 favorites]

I am just one of those persons who gets struck dumb and I need to change that.
Nooooooo no no no you don't need to change that. Witty repartee is funny on tv but has almost no place in real life. Best thing to do is exit the situation rudely and forget about this dude. Saying something clever isn't going to help and the more clever words there are the more COVID droplets are expelled. Nobody needs that.
posted by bleep at 10:38 AM on January 18, 2022 [16 favorites]

I'd want to say, "Why are you hassling me about this?" with a tone of complete bafflement. Like, truly, it's bizarre behavior. Even if you were just being cautious because you wanted to be cautious, why does this guy care? It's weird. (I might, in the moment, get flustered and stammer something about my risk factors and/or medical advice, but what I want to do in moments like these is focus on the antisocial behavior. Because it's super weird to be rude to a customer about something that's not even relevant to the transaction.)
posted by theotherdurassister at 11:17 AM on January 18, 2022 [16 favorites]

If they are working for me, I fire them as soon as possible, and find someone else, and forget the antimasking fool exists. He or she probably won’t soon anyway.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 11:31 AM on January 18, 2022 [2 favorites]

I’ve never been berated for wearing a mask, but I’ve always been prepared to act like they’ve just told me a really good joke. Laugh, shake my head with feigned amusement, and say “good one!” Then walk away chortling.

I don’t think it’s worth the time to attempt to reason with random anti-maskers. There’s nothing you can say that’ll change their minds. But I guess it would be more difficult to not engage when you’re forced into a transaction. I’d probably still be tempted to laugh and say a feigned-amused “seriously?”, followed by “haha, okay then… let’s get back to business.” And if they keep at it, I’d keep acting like they’re funny — without actually discussing the topic with words — while making every attempt to circle back to the business at hand. And once you’re done, never go back.
posted by liet at 11:43 AM on January 18, 2022 [1 favorite]

I say, "Well, I work in a hospital, but if you're comfortable with me not wearing a mask..." and make a move to take it off. They are never comfortable with me taking off my mask after that. Sometimes I add "Thought so," if the person was extremely vocal about my mask wearing. Doesn't matter that i don't actually do patient care, and it doesn't matter if you don't actually work in a hospital if you find that line to your liking.
posted by BlueBear at 12:12 PM on January 18, 2022 [4 favorites]

You don't need to explain or excuse wearing a mask. It's not as if you wouldn't be wearing a mask if you hadn't had pneumonia (I assume).

I haven't been challenged on mask-wearing so far, but the response I've got cued up is "fuck off, plague rat."
posted by adamrice at 12:39 PM on January 18, 2022 [2 favorites]

The question: What would you do when someone made fun of your mask?

Anecdote: back in mid-March 2020, when almost nobody wore masks yet and there weren't any available in the stores anyway, I was wearing an N-95 going shopping various places.

One crusty old guy in Home Depot made some comment to me about "you know, those masks don't stop the bacteria."

Inside my head, the thought was "why should I listen to anything you say if you don't even know the distinction between a bacterium and a virus?"

I said something vague and non-engaging like "oh well, you know, just playing it extra safe."

Unfortunately, it's probably harder to push back or brush people off nowadays because everybody has developed an opinion about "the mask thing." Also unfortunately, the people who want to talk about it really want to talk about it, because they are the people with the strongest opinions about the subject.

I really don't want to have conversations about my masking habits with anybody that I don't absolutely have to. In the situation like the one you describe, where you still need to talk to the person because there's a transaction going on, I'd probably do as others upthread have said and refocused the conversation back on business. "I don't really want to talk about my mask. Let's get back to the (car repairs, bill, whatever)."
posted by theorique at 1:24 PM on January 18, 2022 [2 favorites]

I haven’t been verbally questioned on my mask, just gotten a lot of side-eye and “I can’t hear you with that on”, but I’ve firmly decided that next chance I’m given I’m just gonna say “I have covid, but sure, if you prefer…” and see how long it takes them to fuck off.
posted by J.R. Hartley at 1:44 PM on January 18, 2022 [2 favorites]

"Oh, thank goodness," **start to take your mask down** "I do have COVID but this mask is super annoying! Whew!"
posted by tristeza at 2:27 PM on January 18, 2022 [2 favorites]

I am just one of those persons who gets struck dumb and I need to change that.

I'm like 50/50 deer-in-headlights and "okay at responding" person and sometimes when I can't respond to a thing in the moment (and I'm probably having some sort of RSD malfunction which means my brain is a little clunky at the moment) I just stare at the person.

Originally this was something I'd do because I was having trouble coming up with something to say but then I realized that sometimes saying nothing and letting the person burn themselves out was really the way to go. Especially in this situation--I have a Trumper mechanic who likes to tease as well--I think I'd just stare at the guy until he wandered off. He knows he's being kind of a jerk.

I am also a person who would never comment on the appearance of someone I didn't know except to maybe say "You look great today!" so it's really hard for me to understand what they're after. I'm a pleaser and I like to try to get along with people. Other people aren't that way, for whatever reason. So I try to not overthink it and, most importantly, try not to let it colonize my mind too much. That can be its own challenge, but sometimes reframing the interaction in some other way may be helpful for you to move past it once you've settled on something. I am sorry though, it sucks and I would have been pretty upset too.
posted by jessamyn at 2:51 PM on January 18, 2022 [2 favorites]

I may be alone in my suggestion here, but I would not come back with any snappy retorts. Even in a business transaction, people have shown themselves to be aggressive and sometimes violent about this issue. A couple of weeks ago, my elderly Aunt was threatened by an unmasked man in a grocery line when she politely asked him to move back a bit. He got in her face, threatened her and had to be kicked out of the store. Staff escorted my Aunt to her car, because they were so concerned with his behavior that he might come back.
Unfortunately, people can be very volatile these days, I wouldn't take any chances (nor waste my breath) with someone who is already spoiling for a fight.
posted by fies at 3:32 PM on January 18, 2022 [9 favorites]

Response by poster: "I won't be needing your services anymore.
I've decided my doctor will be taking care of my car,
since you are taking care of my health issues."
posted by intrepid_simpleton at 4:08 PM on January 18, 2022 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: jessamyn, thank for this fascinating fact about RSD malfunction. I know about rejection sensitivity. Whatever it is, it's worth some study.
posted by intrepid_simpleton at 4:16 PM on January 18, 2022 [2 favorites]

"don't worry about it" is a great all purpose response to any unwanted input you get about anything, pretty much.
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:52 PM on January 18, 2022 [7 favorites]

Response by poster: fingersandtoes: Or as someone advised me to say once, "Why does that bother you so much?"

Thank you all, for all the answers.
posted by intrepid_simpleton at 6:15 PM on January 18, 2022

I'd be seriously tempted to say, "Well, good luck when you get sick, then!"

As for that tech that said only careful people are getting Covid... um, no. Only careful people are taking the time to GET TESTED for Covid to reduce the spread and protect other people. The rest are just lying about it being a cold, allergies, or smoker's cough.

Thank goodness I'm in Western Oregon. I'm the one who (was) occasionally being loudly snarky about the stupid people who are probably too dumb to put their underwear on right, too.

I've stopped. Now, if someone really irritates me, and I have my 3yo granddaughter with me, I start loudly praising her for how good she is at wearing her mask, and how smart she is to make sure it covers her nose. and on and on... does the same job, except I can plausibly say I'm not directing any of it at the Covidiot.
posted by stormyteal at 7:17 PM on January 18, 2022

I have bluntly said, "I'm not interested in hearing your opinion," to people a few times. It does really shut them down. Then they probably hate me forever after, but again, I'm not interested in their opinions.

So if it's a situation where you don't mind being blunt and perceived as rude, give it a try!
posted by See you tomorrow, saguaro at 9:23 AM on January 19, 2022 [4 favorites]

"Mind your own business." Brief and an expression of a principle they likely hold others to. Works, so far.

I've also just ignored it, which works and is safer.

The one time I got dragged into a real debate about masks, I got a concession when I explained, "My dad was a hospital epidemiologist for forty years. He wears one and says I should, too. He loves me and my family, and he's a public health professional. He spent his entire career studying infections spread and how to stop them. He's not lying or incorrect. Do you think you could win a debate with him about this issue? You could not. I'll listen to him, not you."

That's particular to my situation and has the advantage of being 100% true, but that same line of argument could be used to cite the good intentions of any mask-advocating health professional.
posted by Caxton1476 at 2:25 PM on January 19, 2022

I would (and have) said something along the lines of Stay in your lane, mechanic [or other person-who-is-not-my-doctor]. Your opinion on masks is wrong and demonstrates willful ignorance on your part, but it's also not something I give a shit/good goddamn/flying fuck about so keep it to yourself.

I would not have told him about my personal health situation because I've been writing about coronavirus for my regional healthcare organization for two years and if they aren't convinced by us literally turning ambulances away because our ERs are overwhelmed by unvaxxed morons, then my personal health situation won't change their mind. If these idiotic ghouls don't give a damn about others, then they don't get to hear about me [see IDGAF above].
posted by headnsouth at 9:49 AM on January 20, 2022

Response by poster: headnsouth, adamrice: I find later that I wasted my words on these imbeciles, but by then it's too late. headsouth: Thank you for putting the word out.

All: And I feel much better today, but I'm still firing my mechanic--I have one, highly recommended, who won't talk politics.
posted by intrepid_simpleton at 9:11 AM on January 21, 2022 [4 favorites]

"Aw it's nice to know you care! My doctor recommends it so I'll keep wearing it, but I appreciate you being concerned for me!" (Said without a hint of sarcasm).

Blank stare/quiet, as Jessamyn mentioned above. I also stumbled on this technique (due to slow processing skills), but it works wonders. Like even when I'm trying to negotiate my phone bill or something, I find it I don't like what they say, and just stay quiet, they come back with something better.

I like the other suggestions above about pretending you have covid or are relieved to remove the mask as you were only wearing it for their protection. Maybe accompanied by some pained coughing.
posted by EarnestDeer at 6:37 AM on January 22, 2022

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