Forget About Travel Shaming, Mask Shaming Is Here & It. Is. Ugly. My Recent Experience

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Mask Shaming

Mask Shaming Is The New Hot Button Topic: My Recent, Ugly Experience

There has been quite a few articles written about the travel shaming phenomenon coming out of the pandemic.  While I think it still happens, I do think people are starting to lessen up on it. With states opening back up and stay at home orders ending people are getting more comfortable with it. But that, along with most things, was really a one sided shaming. Essentially people that didn’t feel comfortable traveling were telling people that did feel comfortable traveling that they were wrong.

What has filled that void? Because we have to always have a hot button issue in America to take out on others.  Enter in mask shaming.  What is unique about this is the shaming goes both ways. You heard that right, people are being shamed for not wearing masks and also for wearing masks. It has gotten pretty ugly out there and I wanted to share our recent experience from this weekend.

This Isn’t A Mask Wearing or Not Wearing Debate

I want to start this off with saying that I don’t want this to be a debate about whether wearing masks do, or do not, make sense.  If you listen to the podcast then you know that myself and Shawn prefer to wear masks in the public.  I, personally, feel more comfortable being inside a public place when others wear them too. We have always tried to be very clear that we are not shaming people that are not wearing masks.  We are simply discussing our feelings on the topic and what makes us feel comfortable when traveling etc.

Our Experience This Weekend With Mask Shaming

Restaurants just opened this week around Michigan.  After driving around for a bit and checking out some neighborhoods for a potential move in a year we decided to grab some dinner.  The protocols in Michigan were for people to wear masks when entering and leaving the restaurant or when going to the bathroom.  You can remove them while you are seated at your table since all of the tables were properly social distanced. Because of this we wore our masks into the restaurant and my wife took my daughter to the bathroom while wearing her mask.

Upon entering the bathroom another patron of the restaurant took that as her chance to mask shame my wife and daughter.  She said the following upon them entering the bathroom:

“I just feel so bad for your daughter that she has to wear that mask. She’s not going to have an immune system – she’s going to get so sick. Haven’t you learned anything from China? And I’m a nurse – I know.”

My wife said please mind your own business.  That is the point where the lady said she would not mind her own business and looked at my daughter and said:

“I’m sorry hunny that your mommy is uneducated on this subject”

My wife responded, do not address my daughter. She then tried to get out of the bathroom while the woman was still rambling on.

Pic from right before the incident.

The Aftermath

My wife was obviously upset about this encounter when she got back to the table.  Another patron who was in the bathroom apologized to my wife and said she was sorry she had to deal with that.  The same woman also alerted the server to the altercation, who then spoke with the manager.  The manager went over and addressed the woman, I am not sure what was said.  She then came to the table and apologized for the experience and told us she was taking care of the meal. A totally unexpected and unnecessary gesture by the establishment since it wasn’t their fault.  I could understand if it was an employee etc. but it was appreciated nonetheless.

Final Thoughts About Mask Shaming

I get that these are stressful times and people are taking time to adjust.  But I am not sure that anyone has the right to parent shame someone when their child is not in danger.  Unbeknownst to this random stranger is the fact that my wife has treated Covid-19 patients for work and seen what it can do up close. She has a pretty good understanding of the situation and is far from “uneducated” on it.

And that is the real point.  You do not know anyone’s background, medical history or their family members medical history. So how can you make a judgement on their decisions? That goes both ways, you don’t know if that person not wearing a mask has a medical condition so it is best not to judge.

I will say our family has decided to follow the mask wearing policy for two reasons. First, because it is actually required by our state to enter public places. Most establishments have signs requiring them to enter as well.  Secondly, we do it to make others feel more comfortable and out of respect for them. It is a courtesy that woman did not deserve but got anyway.

Please be kind to others in this time of stress. Or at least mind your own business if you are unable to. Our first night out in months was somewhat ruined by a woman that could do neither, and that is a shame.

Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann is a father, husband and miles/points fanatic. He left the corporate world after starting a family in order to be a stay at home dad. Mark is constantly looking at ways to save money and stay within budget while also taking awesome vacations with his family. When he isn't caring for his family or taking a weekend trip, Mark is working towards his goal of visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark.

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78 COMMENTS

  1. Here is why I wear a mask. For 82 days I had to wait to find out that my cancer was limited just to one organ. My surgery was canceled in early March because they needed beds potentially for Covid. It took 82 days for the ban on elective surgeries to be lifted so that I could be immediately scheduled for a radical surgery. When someone says I don’t wanna wear a mask it’s gross. Or it’s uncomfortable. You’re not thinking about the forgotten people. The people like me who sat at home for 82 days waiting patiently to have their surgery. If someone just has to be inconvenienced by wearing a mask and it decreases the amount of admissions in the hospital for Covid that means others like me – the silent forgotten ones – can actually have their medical procedures. What happened in my state was an outbreak that had a 10 day grace period where they were able to get surgeries in When someone says I don’t wanna wear a mask it’s gross. Or it’s uncomfortable. You’re not thinking about the forgotten people. The people like me who sat at home for 82 days waiting patiently to have their surgery. If someone just Hass to be inconvenienced by wearing a mask and it decreases the amount of admissions in the hospital for Covid that means others like me – the silent forgotten ones – can actually have their medical procedures. What happened in my state was an outbreak that had a 10 day grace period where they were able to get surgeries in… including mine. Then because so many people were being careless and wanted to get back to living – my state blew up with cases and now once again for the last week and a half elective surgeries have been canceled. If you knew someone or were that person who woke up every single day not knowing what severity of cancer they had but, knowing they had cancer- You may just decide wearing a mask is the least you can do so that person can get the surgery they need.

  2. Cry me a river. Your wife is a snowflake. She got upset that someone made a comment to her. Who cares. It’s called personal responsibility. Wear à mask or dont who cares.
    The faster covid gets through the community that faster it will end. It’s not going anywhere till we get herd immunity. If you are not old and almost dead anyway you will be fine.

    • I am guessing your name says Daddy but you don’t have any kids. Because anyone with children would know that addressing someone else’s child is way over the line. That is where the issue was Daddy…but continue to troll on brotha!

  3. I wouldn’t let that woman leave without telling me exactly where she was a nurse. Then I’d make the call immediately to that department.

    If she was not a nurse, id loudly tell my experience to the entire restaurant. Teach my kids what taking a stand looks like.

  4. I am sorry she had to go through this. I hate it when people decide they know what’s best and just feel the need to keep pushing, especially addressing your daughter as if your wife wasn’t protecting her. I applaud your wife’s patience with that.
    Many years ago, I stopped in a fast food restaurant to pick up something to eat. I was just standing there waiting to grab my to go order when a woman walked up to me, tapped me on the shoulder and said, “smile.” “What?” I asked. “Smile,” she said, “you need to smile.”
    I said, “my father just died” because I had found out he passed that morning, extremely unexpectedly. I had driven a long distance, dealt with all the administrative stuff and was super worried about how I was going to pay for everything surrounding it(I was just out of school and had to go through the legal process to gain access to his accounts while I fronted the money). I was exhausted, overwhelmed, hadn’t eaten in 12 hours, and sad at my father dying so suddenly.
    I began to cry and repeated, “my father just died, I don’t want to smile, I want him back.” She looked horrified and began to walk away, but I followed and repeated, “my father died. why should I smile.” People were looking, I was making a scene, but not yelling, just asking. I was so overwhelmed and why did she need to do this? She just started muttering, “I didn’t know, I just thought you’d look better if you smiled.” “But my father just died,” I couldn’t control the tears.
    That day made me realize that you have no idea what someone is dealing with and no right to try to force them into your view. If you see someone hitting someone or putting someone in physical danger, then of course you should call the police, but no one needs your opinions.
    I know it was a different situation from your wife’s, but that woman has no idea what has happened. You could have lost someone to this disease, have an immunodeficient child, live with a grandparent. It just makes me mad when people do this because I always think back to that moment and how horrible and embarrassed I felt.

    • Sorry to hear that story Beth but thank you for sharing because it makes such a valuable point. Sorry for the loss of your father too. Nothing worse than losing someone suddenly 🙁

  5. I don’t wear a mask (it’s gross), but I also don’t tell people what to do with their bodies.
    None of my business.

    That said, the hypocrisy from everyone here is… interesting:

    This is totally fine to say in public, to other people, online:
    “Wear a mask! Stay home! Don’t travel!”

    This is not:
    “Wearing a mask is stupid”


    It’s just strange that everyone here pile on to one lady (admittedly being rude and obnoxious) for speaking her mind.

    But, all the people who were attacking others for the last few months in the opposite… that’s seen as acceptable.

    It’s interesting that this hypocrisy doesn’t seem to be bother anyone now that the script has flipped.

    • I think it’s more that the woman went up to her public and wouldn’t leave them alone when asked. In regards to anything, that’s not going to go over well and I would be upset if someone decided to lecture a person about wearing masks in this way as well.
      It’s different to generally say online, “people should wear masks” as opposed to accosting someone on the street and tell them they have to and not leave them alone. This isn’t hypocrisy, it’s common courtesy.

    • Yes, because one is backed by science and the other backed by nothing but ignorance. Have you seen the numbers? Wearing a mask shows concern for others. Be selfish if you want, but don’t be surprised if someone calls you on it.

  6. Your wife gets credit for being calm. Good job. I’m afraid if that occurred to me the the situation would have been more “exciting”.

    • Very true – when dealing with a person like that there is no “discussing it” and it could have got ugly very quickly for sure.

  7. When someone comes too close to me without a mask, I lift my mask up and start coughing. They move away pretty quickly!

  8. Some people are fundamentally dumb and some are fundamentally smart. That’s nothing new, although we’re now seeing the added nonsense that if one party’s supporters go with the scientific consensus the other party’s supporters feel obliged to knee-jerk deny it. We’ve seen that with climate change for some time and we’re now seeing it with SARS-CoV-19. Some people get their opinions in scientific matters from politicians and TV talking heads while others look to scientists.
    Just to put some historical perspective on my first sentence, here’s a quote from today’s National Geographic daily email which is particularly appropriate to this discussion:
    “In the 1660s, as London succumbed to the bubonic plague, people flouted quarantines and social distancing, meeting at businesses and holding big daytime funerals, noted diarist Samuel Pepys with frustration. One night Pepys, lonely and standing before a window outside a bar, stared longingly at the jolly, sociable people inside. Reluctantly, he turned away, deciding he didn’t want to die for a drink.”
    Scientifically, we’ve acquired a vast knowledge over the intervening 400 years, but we’re still coded by the same DNA – some of us are still just as dumb and some of us are still just as smart.

  9. What an awful experience, totally inappropriate for the woman to address your daughter. It’s bad enough to have to listen to strangers lecture us. Unfortunately, medical-field personnel have opinions that run the full spectrum, and do not always align with the views of the medical establishment or even common sense. We have some friends, both nurses, who also don’t believe in the severity of covid or in taking any safety precautions. They’ve been telling our other friends to get sick now while they’re relatively young so that they’ll be immune for the rest of their lives. Dangerous and not true. Crazy times.

  10. Soooooo, what do you need immunity for if you’ve got the mask? Isn’t that the point of the mask- to protect against a thing we don’t have immunity for?

    I hope that woman is #notmynurse

  11. Another scenario of someone getting in your personal space and commenting on something they have no right to. The audacity of people these days!

  12. That’s unfortunate they had to experience that. I received something similar to the “I just feel so bad for your daughter that she has to wear that mask” line, in California. I told the guy I am not immune to a-holes. He wasn’t expecting that kind of response.

  13. I am sorry that happened to your wife. When my child was a newborn, I stayed home all the time except for going to my parents. I was told by a doctor relative how it can be very serious for a newborn to get sick- I did not want my baby to end up in the hospital. My mother in law criticized me for this and everything else that I did or did not do with my child for about 8 years. We think she gets defensive when you do things differently from the way she did them. Some people are very rude and cannot keep their opinions to themselves. I also would wear and would have my child wear a mask in the restroom.

    • Ah the classic case of the mother in law – sorry you have had to deal with that. I have noticed that some parents do have a difficult times when their kids do things a little differently.

  14. Just here to say that I’m sorry your wife had to deal with that woman, who is certainly not a nurse and should be ashamed of herself. Of course, she probably felt pretty smug about her behavior.

    Living in the country with the most coronavirus cases – on the rise in an alarming number of states – it’s amazing that anyone would refuse to wear a mask (assuming no physical disabilities that don’t allow it) much less shame someone for acting responsibly to help stop the spread of a virus in a pandemic. And I likewise agree that someone not wearing a mask may not be able to, but those people also need to be considerate about distancing from those around them to avoid making their issues someone else’s.

    This virus doesn’t care about political affiliation yet here we are…

    • Well said. I have no doubt there are many not leaving their houses due to health concerns who have had their lives turned upside down by this. Yes, we’re all impacted, no denying that. But I look at it as a public duty to do my part to minimize the spread of the disease. We are all in this together whether we like it or not.

    • It is crazy how politicized this has become – sad reality of our times. Politicians will use anything the can to improve their position.

    • Don’t be so sure she wasn’t a nurse. Like any profession, plenty nurses are far from ideal as people.

  15. I was witness to someone mask shaming a woman and used the same,”I’m a nurse and I know you don’t need that mask.” I pipped up,”I’m a Dr and I work for the CDC. Please give me your full name and license number. I need to file a report with your facility in regard to your health status and exposure.” Her face got super red and she said,”I don’t have to tell you that!” Soooo, I pretended to take her photo and said,”Cool. I’ll just run you through our database.” She yelled,”You can’t take my photo!” And I said,” You are in public harassing this woman. Have you not seen all the viral videos? Call the police. I’ll wait.” She stomped off all flustered. I’m not a Dr and I don’t work for the CDC. If she was a nurse, then she can sweat it out waiting for a “database” match. Doubtful she’s a nurse. The lady and I laughed so hard when I told her the truth of who I was.

    • Nicole, your comments made my day. I’m sitting here going to bed with my significant other and randomly bust out laughing.

      • Ha! I was pretty impressed with myself. I’m one of those…dang it! I shoulda said…like an hour after crap happens. I was smug all day. Like ALL day.

    • I was going to say there’s no way that lady is a nurse, she make think she does nurse like things for her job and refers to herself as a nurse. Plus she’s completely wrong, because if that were actually true, all doctors and nurses would have the problem of “not going to have an immune system” and I don’t remember hearing about anyone in a profession that requires masking wearing suffering from “not going to have an immune system”.
      And besides all that, she’s just an ingorant A-hole who should have never been talking to anybody’s kids.

  16. I had COVID so I am passionate about this. The old bat in the restroom was no nurse. The masks that you and your family were wearing really weren’t protecting y’all that much. Instead they were protecting everyone else from y’all. And they do a good job of that. When you acquire COVID, you are shedding virus and spreading disease before you have symptoms. The masks really help prevent that. This has nothing to do with your daughter’s immune system and I am sorry that she had to listen to that idiot. Wearing a mask is a sign that you care about other people. Deciding not to wear a mask isn’t just about exercising personal freedom; it’s also sending others a message that you don’t care about them.

    • Brian, I sympathize with your ordeal, but per peer-reviewed studies, wearing a mask DOES protect the wearer. Not 95% like an N95, no, but it does. It’s this false CDC and WHO ((WHO has recently changed their tune recently) narrative that masks only protect others that gives assholes a reason not to wear it. Because most assholes who have no regard for others would wear masks if they realized they do protect THEM.

  17. Yep, people stick their noses in other people’s business all the time. My wife would have really gone off on her, she would not have put up with her crap. As for the manager “comping” the meal……..nice…….but, personally, I would have declined the “comp”. These restaurants are just getting killed due to the lockdown and now with limits on them post lockdown. But, that is just me.

  18. What a bunch of crap. My wife is a Nurse Practitioner and would love if this woman tried that line on her. She’d get her ass handed to her. Really sorry your wife and child had to deal with that. It’s an unfortunate yet teachable moment.

    It’s been proven that wearing masks significantly decreases transmission rates as a whole for the population. This is FACT. Whether or not YOU have the disease is only partially relevant. We’re healthy, but what about our parents? What about your parents or immunocompromised cousin who’s only fault was being born with a compromised immune system? We all have masks and there’s not a chance in hell we would leave without them. Bottom line is not wearing it IS a sign of disrespect to your fellow humans you share your community with.

    Sadly these days people care more about platitudes built on false information and they feel emboldened for obvious reasons.

      • Plot twist – waitress is your cousin and the woman was planted! Would be a better ending at least!

        IMO you should leave a review for this restaurant. Especially nowadays their profit margins being under close watch. To insist on paying for your meal was a generous gesture.

        • We tagged them and thanked them in our posts on social media. They went above and beyond for sure and we will be back soon. It is a place we go to often as it is 🙂

  19. I got 25k points out ofnunited last week. They told me I needed to wear a mask for the cooties. Told them my disability prevented it. They argued with me a little while then left me alone. After the flight, I called United amd asked if they were going to continue to harass me over my disability. They apologized and gave me the points. I guess ADA lawsuits are a lot more expensive for them than 25k points!

    • Pamela would you please share the kind of disability the prevents you from wearing any kind of face covering? It would be useful to be better educated to help avoid situations like described. Thanks and hope you are doing ok.

      • I agree. I really would like to understand, and teach my child as well. He asked why a lady on our flight wasn’t wearing a mask (she wore one part of the time), and I wasn’t sure what to say.

      • Most people do not want to share their disability information. I will tell you why my 26yr old son struggles with a mask. He has very severe asthma, & also has cystic fibrosis. His lungs are very impaired with about 28-30% lung function. Think as if you are breathing through a straw, all the time. Now add a mask to that. He is staying isolated except as absolutely necessary but a mask is not very workable for him. Will he offer that up to someone that asks him? NO, it is very private

  20. This reminds me of when I have seen people in DisneyWorld with their young children on a leash. Personally, I feel it is wrong to treat your child like an animal. However, I would never say something to the other person as it is not my place.

    Now on the mask front, I will say my local post office in New Jersey today had a new sign up – it used to say masks were required in the Post Office but now it says masks are suggested.

    • I forgot about the kid leashes 🙂

      If you have a runner I could see it coming in handy but we never partook haha

    • Jason you never saw my two nephews in DL. Visiting the tree house several years ago one of them disconnected from my hand and ran down the stairs. Fortunately, some DL staff were quick to reach him in the crowds. A child harness would have been great if his parents had used one.

    • We lost our nephew’s sister at closing time in Downtown Disney. What a nightmare. If there was any part of me that ever wanted to have kids it was gone after realizing what a terrible guardian I was.

      We found her and she didn’t even know she had been lost. Whew. Still would never leash a kid, but to each their own.

  21. I think people are just all stir crazy right now after being locked down for 3 months. Their hair is too long and bothering them, they haven’t been able to sneak away to see their side pieces, they had to cancel all of the trips they were looking forward to, they are sick of eating at home, their kids are under foot every second of the day etc. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is also throwing gas on the protest fire as well.

    • I think that is a part of it for sure. I also think people wearing masks keeps the pandemic in the forefront of the mind and people are ready to just move on. Out of sight, out of mind as they say. And people wearing them doesn’t allow that to happen which upsets some people. I know I am ready to move on…I think the next month or so will be very telling on how that will look though.

  22. I was in Texas last weekend. I can tell you there was very little mask wearing there. I was in a HEB grocery store twice, and very few people wore masks except employees. Hotel housekeepers did not wear masks. At a chili’s resturaunt, people were packed into foyer in order to get a pager in order to be able to go back and wait in car til paged for a socially distanced table, lol. Attended a graduation ceremony at an outdoor stadium. There were rules in place for social distancing such as 6 feet spaced seating and color coded parking with the intent of releasing people at the end of ceremony by parking color. Almost everyone just got up at the end to crowd the exits simultaneously. Everyone was supposed to wear masks at ceremony. Most didnt. But It was 95 degrees in T, so it’s harder than it sounds. We were limited to 5 arm bands per family in order to reduce crowds to socially distance family groups in the stands. But bands weren’t checked at entrance so more people could have easily gotten in, and it seems to my eyes to be more crowded than it should have been.
    So the best laid plans as they say. There was much more mask wearing at the airports. This was a 3 night trial trip for a family event and because of what I experienced there, I am considering postponing our July Florida trip. I’m not trying to be judgmental here about anyones behavior during my short trip., it all seemed very challenging for everyone, not just me.

    • Sometimes even the best laid plans don’t work out for sure. Sitting in the sun and heat with a mask is one of the main reasons I wouldn’t go to a theme park this summer. Just sounds miserable to me.

    • there’s a reason why you see states like Texas with climbing numbers, whereas places who took it seriously are declining. Almost as if these precautions recommended by the CDC work?

    • You are right! I live in Texas, right outside of Houston and I’ll vouch for limited mask wearing. People are also not socially distancing. I have been ridiculed for trying to socially distance, even a friend when I tried to give fist bump said with disgust, “Oh you are doing THAT??” She gave me a hug and now I sit here with Covid symptoms waiting for my test results! People need to respect others who are trying to protect themselves- you never know what medical issues they have or who they may be trying to protect at home!!

  23. Some people who are on the spectrum cannot wear masks. The feeling is overwhelming. You can’t tell all the time what/if someone has a problem/condition.

    • Very true L – I had not thought of that and agree that you have no idea what is going on in someones life and best not to judge.

  24. Thank you for sharing your experience. I am recently looking back at a life filled with: “If you don’t ______, bad things x, y, z will happen. ” Or, “If you ______, bad things a, b, and c will happen.” Yesterday was my birthday and received similar birthday advice. I am pushing fifty.

  25. Sorry to read about your wife and child’s experience. That was really rude and none of her business.

    Sadly, everything has become political especially in the past few years, even things you wouldn’t expect, like health and public safety, and science gets skewed in the direction of one’s political leanings.

    Let that lady get sick if she wants.

    • I think having the pandemic hit in an election year is the worst thing that could have happened. Both sides are turning it into ammunition instead of working together to solve the problem. It is sad to see things get politicized as you say.

    • I wish! Haha. No she is an occupational therapist that does home care and has some covid-19 patients though.

      • I remember you said she’s in the medical field. Either way, it is very sad that a person will insert their [unfounded] authority unto another person and her family. But I’m glad you guys handled it so well.

  26. I think this was just a jerk of a woman. If it had not been masks, it would have been something else. Sorry your wife and little girl had to encounter such a rude person.

  27. Agreed 100%. I’m not a mask wearer unless required, but there is zero need to tell others what they should do, especially someone else’s child. Repulsive.

  28. Is there any clear scientific data on what medical conditions exempt people from wearing masks?

    Hospital workers and people in East Asia routinely wear masks. Even prior to COVID19, I haven’t heard of medical exemptions to wearing masks in the hospital or in East Asia.

    • I honestly don’t know, haven’t looked into it much. I would assume something like asthma or something with breathing issues could potentially cause problems with a mask.

      • Not asthma. At least not properly treated asthma. I’ve had it since I was 8 and I’m heavily medicated. I actually like wearing a mask. It hides my mouth breathing that people with regular lungs think is a sign I’m a rube and not just trying to stay alive.

        There may be some medical conditions, but if your breathing is so bad that you can’t wear a mask- then you’re in the category of people who are going to die if you get a sever acute respiratory syndrome. Saying “my condition doesn’t allow me to wear a mask” while in public is like a solidier showing up to battle with no vest or helmet and telling his sergeant its ok because he knows the words to La Roux’s Bulletproof.

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