Really? Wear Your Mask

Tychell Pinckney-Nickson, Contributor

I am fuming with anger as I leave another day of work because someone gave me a hard time when I asked him to wear a mask. I just lost my aunt to COVID-19.

People do not understand how serious the virus is until it affects their personal lives.

She had already been battling thyroid cancer for several years while being a dedicated member of her church and helping raise her grandsons. Any time you would see her out, she was wearing a mask.

She was a fashionista, so it had to be a specially designed mask.

Just like the infected person she unknowingly came in contact with, the customer I encountered could have COVID-19 and not know it.

All I did was ask the customer if he had his mask. No answer. I asked again, making sure that he heard me. Still no answer.I waited until he got to the counter. I asked again if he had a mask. He finally told me no.

I told him that he needed to have a mask for one of us cashiers to serve him. He got upset and started to storm out, while I politely said, “We have four signs. All we ask is that you respect our rules.”

He was boiling. He made a few more remarks, saying, “screw you,” and leaving the store.

Now, this was not the first time that I had been treated poorly because I asked someone to wear a mask. It’s usually a snide remark or a sarcastic question that leads to something irrelevant, but eventually they put on a mask.

This customer just might have been having a bad day.

I expect to be blamed because of a loss of a sale, but I lost my aunt because of negligent actions such as that. I had to sit behind the two granddaughters she left behind while they bawled their eyes out at her funeral.

My aunt lived in Bloomfield but would travel to Hartford daily because that was where her church and her close family lived. Even before coronavirus, my aunt would Lysol her entire house from upstairs to downstairs and would even wipe all the doorknobs and surfaces. Sometimes when I would come to visit, I could still smell the chemicals.

According to the Health and Human Services, there are 5,048 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Hartford and Bloomfield as of Nov. 6.

When the pandemic started, I was not taking it seriously. I thought that this was a huge scam for the retail market to profit from us buying cleaning supplies; I would go on social media and see how people were fighting over toilet paper.

But it became serious when my mom’s co-worker lost a family member to COVID-19. Suddenly, I started thinking about my great-grandmother who has heart problems, my grandma, who has diabetes and my aunt.

The seriousness of the virus did not become real until my grandmother told me that my aunt was admitted to St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center on Tuesday, Sept. 22.

I was in the middle of doing an essay for my sociology class when she told me and become so distraught that I could not continue.

While my aunt was in the hospital, my mom would call and put her on speaker so that everyone could hear how she was doing. The first time, she sounded fine. Then she was put on a respirator because the mucus had started to build up and she could no longer breathe on her own. It was hard to listen to her constantly coughing and wheezing.

Then on Sept. 30, around 4 am, her suffering stopped.

At least now she can rest while buried in the cemetery right next to Mt. Calvary Baptist Church in Hartford.