When nihilists like Greg Abbott prematurely lift and preempt mask mandates, they put ordinary minimum wage workers who don’t want to be exposed do a deadly virus in an incredibly difficult position:
Abbott’s framing of the March 10 executive order has played into the polarity incited by those who view refusing to wear a mask as a political statement. While the order protects the rights of businesses to require masks, it has been largely misunderstood and misrepresented to mean that Texans will no longer have to wear masks anywhere for any reason.The press release from the governor’s office is titled, “Governor Abbott Lifts Mask Mandate, Opens Texas 100 Percent.” Without reading this press release or the executive order itself, some Texans assume that this title means that they should no longer be required to wear masks in businesses and that being asked to do so is infringing on their rights. This makes mask policies difficult and treacherous to enforce, even if they are the legal right of each business.While it’s all fine and dandy for the governor to trust people to “take the actions that they have already mastered” to keep themselves safe, it’s not fair that many of us in the service industry are getting paid minimum wage to be exposed not only to illness, but also to rage and violence that comes with trying to enforce a mask policy post March 10.Being a young woman who often works with even younger women, I have felt extremely unsafe when confronting grown men about our mask policy, especially after experiencing and witnessing brutal verbal attacks.
About a week after the March 10th order went into effect, I was working a closing shift with two other young women. A man came in with a mask on but pulled it down to order. My 18-year-old coworker asked him nicely to keep his mask up. He pulled the mask down farther, and she asked him again. He went off the rails: “I am a 40-year-old man, I can scratch my nose if I want to. Give me your manager’s phone number. I don’t think he’s going to be impressed with your attitude. I was going to give a tip to you and your friends, but your attitude just lost it.” And on and on until he finally left.
Being a Republican today means equating “freedom” with “behaving like an obscenely self-centered 8-year-old boy at all times.”