Monday, February 28, 2011

Face masks

It is snowing again!!! Actually it is slushing but it is turning to snow as the morning goes on.

In case of rain and definitely slush, I wear a raincoat when I go to crosswalk duty. (My hat goes flop when it gets wet.) And after four days of dealing with a sore throat I decided to wear a mask until the last minute (gotta blow a whistle, right?) and stand at my corner thus clad. Catching sight of myself in the Japanese confectionery shop window I thought I looked like I was a member of the White Cult that once featured prominently in Japanese news...

I don't usually wear masks. Today's was to keep the cold air off my throat. I don't know if it worked. I guess I've posted about this before. Now, I'm going to get blasted by some of my Japanese friends about this but I dislike the custom of wearing masks and can find all sorts of imagined psychological reasons behind the custom. I don't trust the effectiveness of these little pieces of gauze, neither for protecting oneself nor for protecting others from cold and flu viruses. I sympathize with all the people in Japan who suffer hay fever and claim that masks filter the allergy spores, but I am astounded by all the people who have hay fever year round.

One of my friends gave me a present of a box of 50 face masks. I love her for the thought but I still haven't broken into the box... (The one I wore today was from a stash given to me during the swine flu outbreak last year.)

I especially dislike the custom of the kindergarten teachers all wearing masks throughout the school day. Yes, I know that when cold and flu germs are prevalent that there might be a high concentration in the kindergarten (that's probably where I picked up my own cold germs) but continually wearing a mask during class gives me the message that the teachers think all their students are vile and contaminated or something. And it seems to me that someone who perpetually lives behind a mask is trying to put a wall between themselves and the rest of the society. There. I've said it. Blast me!

At the beginning of the school term I very politely asked a couple of the little girls in the kindergarten class if they were suffering from colds. If not, then would they please put their masks in their pockets during English class? And I explained that if they were sick then go right ahead and wear them (but if they are sick, shouldn't they just go home?) and if they had hay fever then they could replace their masks when they went outside to play but in English class, no thank you. And I politely gave my reasons. 1)I can't see if you are participating or not. 2) I can't see your expressions. 3)Mask wearing is not a custom in the Western hemisphere so it is somewhat disturbing to Western foreigners... and by the way, leave your masks at home if you are ever visiting the States. You will be considered odd. This last reason brought cries of surprise and disbelief.

The kindergarten teacher quietly removed her mask and it hasn't returned in MY class. That was the point of my lecture anyways.

I will dispose of my own mask as soon as possible. It's going to take me awhile to get through the box of 50.

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