Masked shopping: a new experience and some reflection

Toronto began a mandatory face-covering (mask) by-law on July 7, 2020 for all indoor places. Here’s the pdf: BY-LAW 541-2020

Anyway, I hate masks in public if there is a chance of having to communicate with someone. But I wear my mask and have been even before it became a by-law because I don’t want your cooties on me. ๐Ÿ™„ AND, I don’t want to pass them on to someone who is compromised.

I got used to wearing the masks, but I rarely go out and when I do, it’s the same old places I’ve been to many times before. I know what to expect there.

But today, I went to a bulk food store and only because mom said you no longer have to have an employee with you to scoop your product. You can scoop your own product now, like before covid.

So I went. But I knew immediately that it wasn’t going to be easy.

The girl was at the register, about 3 meters away from the front entrance, behind a plexi-shield. She had on a black face mask which covered her mouth but not her nose.


I looked at the baskets and carts and decided a basket would suffice today. There was a table with a spray bottle (like Windex spray), a box of clear plastic gloves (like the types you get included in a hair colouring kit), and some paper towels stacked loosely on top of one another. There was a cloth (reusable, not disposable) on the top basket of the stacked baskets beside the table, and a garbage full of used plastic gloves in front of the table.

But there was no sign. No instructions, no direction. What was I supped to do with the spray bottle and the dirty cloth?

I heard the girl speak but couldn’t make out what she said. I turned and looked at her, and she repeated what she said but I still couldn’t understand. I assumed she said ‘sanitize’ or something, it sounded similar.

I looked again at the table. Usually a large dispenser-type bottle is what you see in stores, not spray bottles. There was no dispenser, just that spray bottle with an orange liquid in it.

Well I ain’t gonna touch that. I don’t know what the hell I’m spraying, or if it should make contact with my skin.

I did don the gloves though and picked up the top basket with the dirty cloth on it, then picked the next basket, and put the first basket back on the stack.

I don’t know WTF was happening.

From there, I shopped the way I always do. I even picked up a couple of dog treats for the Airedale. He’s coming this weekend; I offered to dog sit.

Side note: he likes cloth, tissue and assorted knickknacks. My house is full of discarded cloths, tissue boxes and assorted knickknacks, none of which belong to me. Thereby, I will most likely enjoy a relatively clutter-free main floor of this house for the duration of this dog’s visit. Perhaps I may bend the arm of my friend to lend him to me for an extra day or three JUST BECAUSE I LIKE ORDER. ๐Ÿ™„

Anyway, one thing I noticed while scooping spices was that the little plastic label thingies were missing. You’re supposed to write the code on there, to make it easier for the cashier. But the little buckets were full of twist-ties, but no labels. This increased my anxiety a little bit, too. Now I will have to engage in conversation with the cashier. But hopefully, just me talking, not me having to hear anything…

It was fine. I only had four little baggies, and she had her wheel with her codes on it and she punched it in.

While she was doing that, some customers came in and I heard her speak to them the way she did to me. Despite only being about a foot away from her (she was still behind the plexi-shield), I still couldn’t understand what she was saying. AND, the entire time I was at the register, she touched her mask, and her face, at least a half dozen times.

I’m not saying any of this to judge her, even though it may come across this way. What I’m trying to process here is the habitual behaviour we all continue to engage in. If you wear glasses, if you have long hair, if you have the sniffles, it’s quite amazing how many times you touch your face without realizing it. And the girl didn’t have her mask on properly and kept shifting it…

Ok, she wore gloves while doing stuff on her register. But, if she’s an asymptomatic carrier of covid, and has now touched her mask, or her nose, and subsequently the register, those gloved hands are not protecting her. The gloves will pick up the germs from the register (unless it’s being sanitized constantly) and then, inevitably, end up on her face since she couldn’t stop touching her face.

See what I’m saying?

I know I’m guilty of touching my face too. I have long hair which is always in my face, I take my sunglasses off, put them back on, I sometimes use reading glasses…


As a relatively healthy person who is most likely not a covid carrier, I am aware of how much I touch my face when out in public because of this experience.

When I was done paying, I exited using my elbow to touch the automatic door opener, but was prevented from leaving as two new customers were coming and (not paying attention to me already halfway through the door). I stepped back into the door with my bag, and waited for them to enter.

Whatever. Maybe they didn’t see my emaciated quarantine-body and it’s obvious invisibility. (hahahahahahaahaaaaaaa!) ๐Ÿ™ƒ

Ya, nope.

It was then, when I remembered to remove my gloves and deposit them into the garbage. Which required me to walk several more steps back INTO the store.

It’s a bit weird, the way it was set up.

I finally got to my car, sat in it, took off my mask by being careful only to touch the loops and not the mask part, and sanitized from the car sanitizer.

Then, I got all worked up about my next stop. Starbucks.

Only that ended up a non-issue because I sat out on the patio, and my friend had an app and dealt with the order electronically. Because, if I had to go through the whole complicated scenario in Starbucks, where even the simplest beverage is this elaborate thing, I would have probably just skipped it and went home coffee-less.

36 thoughts on “Masked shopping: a new experience and some reflection

  1. I suppose it’s impossible to keep completely isolated from the environment, maybe an operating room has the same requirement. At some point we will see the world with more realistic eyes.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I make my own coffee. I never could understand the appeal of spending outrageous amounts for coffee that I could make better, and cheaper, at home. And now with precautions and masks and gloves, I spend as little time out in the world as possible. One thing about the mask, it makes you more aware of how much you touch your face–and awareness is the first step to change.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. They have the most to worry about from their customers as it seems not everyone has the same training manual or maybe a competitor is out to shut them down. Alternately, I feel sympathy but since I don’t really care for them, I don’t as they are overpriced and I would prefer to give my business to a mom and pop convenience store and leave the attitude at home.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Starbucks is the one customers seem to like to set up for a fall in so many ways…I just can’t lower myself to going in there anymore. It feels like a setup, so I go to Dunkin’ doughnuts where the coffee is cheaper, cold, and strong.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree gloves are useless unless in a sterile environment. But the vast majority of Covid is spread through airborne droplets so if everyone would wear a mask we could slow the infection rate. But that presumes people will wear them properly and we know how that goes.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have become more aware of how much I touch my face over the past few months and I’m probably worse when wearing a mask. It’s not comfortable and I do find myself frequently adjusting it.

    I’m not going to kick myself about this as no-one is perfect and, as I understand it, the mask is to stop me breathing my germs over everyone else, not to protect me from theirs.

    On a slightly related note, you can now get masks with tentacles on them. I want one of these ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

      1. There is loads of scope. I was browsing designs with one of my kids yesterday and we were amazed at just how much variety there is already.

        If we’re going to be stuck with the things, we might as well have some fun with them ๐Ÿ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      1. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ I don’t know what do you mean Claudette!!! Btw what do you think to the new profile pic………… face masks are wonderful things to hide behind.


  7. I feel for you Claudette, I have good hearing though after 35 years working in a noisy machine workshop it isn’t wonderful, listening to muffled voices can be difficult. In the UK masks in shops became law on 25th, I don’t mind it so much and just try to never touch my face……… Fingers crossed.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Iโ€™ve done a lot of errands in the months of quarantine and rather than wear gloves (I started with gloves in the beginning, but it was also winter then) I made a spray bottle of sanitizer and I spray the fronts and backs of my hands every time I get out of the car and when I get back in. I have been treating myself to Starbucks iced tea a few times each week because it brings me joy on a hot day. I use the app and since they donโ€™t let people sit inside at the one near me, itโ€™s empty. Not sure what will happen when the weather turns.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. People don’t realize how much crap they’re touching with cootie infested gloves. They touch shopping carts and cereal boxes then their phone rings and they answer it with the gloves on then they touch the cart again then they push their hair out of their eyes then they touch the cart again then they touch everything in their purse with those cootie infested gloves on

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I came across a youtube video of an experiment they did in Japan or Korea. In a food place they put a dab of special dye on one persons hand. The dye is invisible until you shine UV light on it. Then at the end of an hour they got shone the UV light around and as you probably guessed it was everywhere including on almost every ones face. Yuk.

      I don’t see they point of gloves. I think they may give a false sense of security. If we go out we keep a pot with a cloth soaked in disinfectant in the car. Then when we get back to the car we wipe our hands and anything else that might be infected. Then when we get home we wash our hands again. We have washable face masks and disposable. The washable ones we wash straight away.

      Face touching is a problem. As you say, you don’t realise how often you do that. I have to keep reminding myself. Face masks are uncomfortable and there’s a temptation to touch them to adjust their position and check the seal around the nose. We live in a rural area but there are a couple of villages nearby with shops. I noticed that everyone wears a mask in the shops but when they come out they pull them down so you see lots of people walking around with a mask tucked under their chin.

      Nothing is perfect but you just have to keep doing the best you can.

      There are lots of idiots around. I spoke with my daughter the other day. She is very careful but she told me she went into a shop wearing a mask and a young man (not wearing a mask) started haranguing her for doing so saying it was all a conspiracy and masks don’t work and so on. Wearing masks in shops is mandatory here now (England).

      Sorry to ramble

      Liked by 2 people

      1. No apologies, thanks for reading and commenting! I appreciate the perspective of people in other countries and cultures; it reminds me how we really are all the same and all connected.
        I have some disposable masks, but I mostly use my fabric ones. RV living means I don’t have a washer dryer, but I do run my fabric ones through the dishwasher after every use. I am growing accustomed to having everything I eat taste like hand soap, sanitizer, or disinfectant. We do the best we can and hope it’s enough. Stay safe out there!

        Liked by 1 person

      1. It all makes me glad I grew up in the 70s and 80s, before antibacterial everything. I grew up making mud pies and playing with worms, so I have a reasonably well developed immune system๐Ÿ˜†

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Pretty sure I touched my face six or seven times while reading this post.

    There’s only so much you can do yourself, because ultimately you’re always going to be at the mercy of others. Think about it too much and it’ll drive you crazy!

    Liked by 3 people

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