No matter where you come down in the Great Mask Debate of 2020 (I’m pro-mask but not pro-mandate, for the record), I think we can all agree on a couple of simple ground rules for how the debate is conducted. Let’s start with “don’t pull a gun on someone because they are/aren’t wearing a mask.” Not only will you find yourself facing charges, you’re only going to provide more evidence to the other side of the debate that your side is unhinged.
Todd Goulston, 59, was inside a Walgreens on July 3 when he noticed a 30-year-old man not wearing a mask, police say.
The argument then escalated, and Goulston reportedly pulled a gun out of his car and pointed it at the victim.
“He wasn’t wearing a mask. He said ‘you should have a mask on,’ then they had a little confrontation, and the guy pulled a gun on him,” said Kevin Prosper with Bridgewater Discount Liquors.
So, once again we’ve got a situation similar to the Chipotle Incident in suburban Detroit; an argument that neither side will let go, and so it escalates to the point of criminality. Goulston should have gotten himself in his car rather than pull a gun from it. If he’d simply driven away, he’d be enjoying his summer instead of worrying about a prison sentence.
“He is a lung cancer survivor, that is why he asked the man to wear a mask. My father had cancer in both lungs which spread to his lymph nodes. He was diagnosed as stage four,” his daughter said. “I am heartbroken that my father is being put through this.”
Once in custody, Goulston complained of a medical issue and was taken to a local hospital.
I get why Goulston was upset. My wife’s been fighting lung cancer for four years, and she and I have had the “wouldn’t it suck if you died from COVID-19 when you’ve been keeping the cancer at bay” conversation more than once. Since March, she’s only left the house a handful of times, and most of those were for her chemotherapy appointments. I’ve taken over the grocery shopping, and I’m the one who goes to the hardware store or the occasional restaurant for take out as well. I’m pretty paranoid about my wife coming down with COVID-19, and by extension, that means I’m kind of paranoid about me catching it and giving it to her.
So yes, I wear a mask, though I’m well aware that it doesn’t offer 100% (or even 70%) protection against the virus. Do I get mad when I’m out and I see someone without a mask? No. Rebellion is in our cultural DNA. It’s to be expected that some people will refuse to wear a mask out of spite. As paranoid as I am about catching COVID-19, I still understand how the world works. What did Nancy Pelosi say about the people who tore down the Christopher Columbus statue in Baltimore? “People are gonna do what they’re gonna do,” right? Well, the same holds true for masks, and there’s no point getting enraged either way.
So what do I do? I shop quickly. I spend as little time as possible around large groups of people, whether they’re masked or not. And I try to have some empathy for everyone I do come in contact with, because these are stressful times for everyone.
Try not to be an ***hole, in other words. And if someone’s an ***hole to you, sometimes you’ve just gotta let it go. It’s not worth your time, your energy, and certainly not your liberty to continue escalating things just because you let them get under your skin. Walk away. Drive away. There’s no need to throw a chunk of your life away, as may very well be the case for Mr. Goulston in Massachusetts.