Mutiny and Masks

The City of Edmonton decided this week that everyone should wear masks indoors in public places as of August 1. There are some exceptions, such as when eating and drinking, and for those with medical conditions that make wearing masks impossible, but for the rest of us when going to the store, masks will be required.

When I went to the grocery store yesterday, Jul 30, I was pleased to see that most people were already abiding by the new rules. Two weeks ago when I was grocery shopping I guessed that fewer than 50% had masks on, but on this trip to the store I would estimate that over 80% of shoppers were wearing masks.

Surgical Mask via

We were helped in this by a young woman who was standing at the entry door, handing out masks. She was also offering to wipe down the handles on the shopping carts and to provide a squirt of hand sanitizer.

Also standing at the entry door, just beyond the young woman with the masks was a very tall, very sturdy, security guard. As people entered the store, he reminded those without masks that they would do well to wear a mask. He was in a tricky spot because he could not tell people it was required, exactly, but he wanted as many people as possible to volunteer.

Mask from Rebecca Benson via The Blade

Ahead of me at the doorway were two men, both without masks.  The security guard reminded the first man that the purpose of the mask was to protect other people, not himself, but the man declined anyway. He gave the impression that he was in too much of a hurry. The second man, wearing a biker jacket in 30 C heat, was less civil. I couldn’t hear all that he said, but it was some sort of objection to authoritarianism.  I’m paraphrasing.

A woman who followed me into the store asked a nearby store employee “What is his problem?” Then she said, “What a jerk!” She got several signs of agreement from people who were otherwise choosing melons. I gave her a grin that she could not actually see because I was wearing a mask.

Death or Glory
Cool Helmet from Frank Kovalcheck via Flickr

If, by some miracle, there are any biker dudes reading this, or Libertarians, or anyone who wants to “stick it to The Man,” I have news for you. You aren’t defying authority; you are putting your neighbours’ lives at risk. The authorities, whoever they are, are not quaking in their boots at your rebellion. They are shaking their heads in bewilderment.

You are that kid in middle school who wouldn’t do the work because they did not want to be a pleb, or they were too smart for that stuff, or they didn’t see why they had to. The teacher just shook her head and sighed because she knew what would happen to that kid. He would end up wearing a biker jacket in 30 degree heat, refusing to wear a mask during a pandemic.


  1. People have been wearing masks back here in Ontario for several months. I’m still having my groceries delivered, but the few times i have had to go to a store or somewhere I’ve never seen anyone objecting. Going to get my eyes tested this afternoon- this will be my first time to the mall.

    • Albertans tend to resent any concept that they think threatens their personal freedoms. That’s why the city has had to make it a bylaw.

      When I went to the mall several weeks ago it was very sparsely populated and there were lots of restrictions. I’m going on Monday for a haircut so I will be interested to see if anything has changed.

  2. I’ve noticed more people wearing masks in Red Deer and Calgary this past week or so. I don’t know if you’ve seen the news about the hordes of people going to Sylvan Lake. Not unusual in normal times but definitely concerning during a pandemic. Very few wearing masks or physical distancing. One young woman being interviewed said “the virus is just coming on its own so there’s nothing we can do about it.”

    • Gah! So frustrating. All those people went home to their families.

      It seems as though most of the recent outbreaks have to do with large social gatherings or communal living situations.

    • It should be that way everywhere, in my view.

      I would add that we live very close to a very large country that is swamped with misinformation and disinformation. We also get their TV channels on our TVs. I blame Fox TV for a lot of things, but at the moment I blame them primarily for misleading people about Covid-19.

      • Agreed. Although the virus seems to spreading down here like wildfire, and there is a lot of ”talk” about second waves on the horizon.
        I walk the dog every morning for about 30 minutes and most folk I encounter on the route are wearing.

        I try not to read too much news but from what I have gleaned things are in the process of collapsing all around.
        I wonder sometimes if a complete laissez faire perspective could/would be much worse?
        The job loss figures and business closures are truly disturbing.

        • Yes, the economic impact has been huge. No doubt. But countries that really closed down for about three months seem to be opening up businesses again with only a few outbreaks.

          It is a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t situation. But being dead is probably worse than being bankrupt.

          • In principle I agree, however what if you have no income and no means of support?
            Going hungry is very real out here for many people, and I’d venture they would jump at the chance to take the risks of contracting the virus against becoming destitute and starving.

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