by Miriam Hertz
A Tale of Face Masks..
Nose and mouth covered by a brightly colored floral mask, I yell “Stop! Don’t come a-any clo-o-ser! Or I’ll text you!!” (Those of you who know me, know that the only reason I have ever texted is because it’s your preferred form of communication, not mine.)
But now the store clerk looks at me, brow furrowed. (Her mouth is probably furrowed too, but I can’t tell behind her ominously serious facemask.) Still, “Ma-a-tzah!” I shout, though muffled and strangled sounding from behind my mask. The clerk must be thinking, “I know people are edgy in these tough times, but this aggressiveness over finding matzah – whatever that is – has got to stop.”
“Yes, where’s the Pass-o-over food?” I say, desperate and still shouting. “Passover, matzah, what?” the store clerk responds, eyebrows raised. No use in trying to explain – with my stuttering and through my facemark and over the store’s background noise – what matzah is. But, shall I tell you, dear reader, since when I write – or at least editorialize – I don’t stutter or, more to the point, don’t have to stutter through a mask while contending with background noise? Answer: matzah is an unleavened bread served at the Passover meal that commemorates the hurried escape of the Jews from slavery in ancient Egypt. (There wasn’t enough time to wait for the dough to rise…)
So, patient reader, what have I learned from endeavoring to stutter out my message from behind a mask, be the mask literal or literary (aka the proverbial veil). That I – we? – always should request disability accommodations, even demand them if no one is paying attention. And it seems our strident times call upon us to take bold steps toward better and brighter accommodations.
Indeed, the next time I’m shopping from behind the veil, or at least shopping for something like matzah – unusual in these parts – I’ll threaten to text the store clerk. But now I understand that the clerk will not be threatened by the aim of my smart phone; she will be relieved…
Miriam works as an Independent Living Advocate in DAC NW’s Moscow office. If you need help with removing a barrier due to COVID-19, please call 208-883-0523.