Face mask freakouts

Published 6:24 pm Tuesday, July 14, 2020

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You walk into a place of business, halfway glancing at the sign on the door that clearly says a mask is required to enter the premises. You decide to enter without one. An employee politely approaches you and asks you to wear a mask while in the store, in accordance with company policy. How do you react?

For some, it might mean turning around, going out to the car and grabbing a mask. No big deal. For others, who don’t have a mask, or who don’t want to wear one, it’s equally acceptable to calmly leave the store go somewhere else.

What’s not acceptable, however, is a behavior that has become increasingly frequent — both in social media videos and at businesses right here in Beaufort County. It’s called the “face mask freakout,” and it involves grown adults screaming, cursing and sometimes even assaulting employees of establishments that enforce the wearing of face masks on their premises.

It basically boils down to a tantrum, and the target of that hostility is often the employee who dares to say something — usually a person who is just trying to do their job, earn a paycheck and go home. They don’t set the policy, but are charged with enforcing it, and the end result is verbal abuse, and possibly physical violence.

That type of behavior is unequivocally wrong.

There are plenty of businesses locally that have signs on the door indicating that a face mask is required to enter. Yet, even with that plain requirement plastered on doors and windows, many of these businesses continue to allow customers to do business without a mask. While it’s their prerogative to do so, it’s also likely there are many employees out there who choose not to press the issue for fear of confrontation.

But what about Constitutional rights?

Plain and simple, a store policy asking customers to wear face masks does not violate those customers’ Constitutional rights. In the state of North Carolina, private businesses have the right to deny service to anyone, for any reason, as long as that denial is not based on a person’s race, color, creed, religion, sex or national origin. Some people might not like it, but businesses have the ultimate say regarding what goes on within their four walls.

Regardless of anyone’s views about the state government mandating mask wearing in public places, if a business asks customers to do so, it boils down to a really simple ultimatum — wear a mask or shop somewhere else.

If someone can’t wear a mask for health reasons or because some other exception is at work, they can calmly explain that. Many places will go above and beyond to make arrangements for their customers, but “I don’t want to,” is not a valid reason to act as though a company’s policies only apply to some, but not others.

In short, there is absolutely no reason to take frustrations out on a clerk, cashier or manager for asking customers to follow their company’s policy. If in doubt, it’s always good to remember the Golden Rule: treat others how you would want to be treated.