Shantha Smith: Saving Your Life

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Wearing a mask shouldn’t be such a big deal, but apparently it is to many, and that has Shantha Smith mystified.

“I get to go to school on my birthday; that’s a nice present!” said my now 11-year-old daughter as she bounced up and down this morning ready to get out of the house. I smiled and thought how much everyone is appreciating the fact that the Bay Area is opening up. I’ve been seeing it everywhere: the relief and happiness on people’s faces as they return to something more normal.

Unfortunately, I’ve been seeing all of people’s faces. My work takes me to many small offices with only a handful of employees. This past week every single office I walked into had someone not wearing a mask. Sure they’re sitting in separate rooms, but it’s still inside an enclosed space with poor ventilation. These are my friends and colleagues and giving them a lecture every time I see them feels uncomfortable, so I didn’t say anything. But was that the right thing to do? I want to stay open; I want everyone to be free to get out and do the things they love to do. And that means that we cannot become complacent; we need to keep wearing our masks.

I devotedly wear my mask everywhere I go; it’s not about protecting myself or complying with health orders. It’s not about who I am comfortable with or the number of cases at this moment. I wear my mask because I am protecting everyone around me just in case I get sick and don’t know it. When my mask becomes uncomfortable, I remind myself that I want us all to be well and be free to live as normally as we can. I do not want the roller-coaster of cases here to climb back up again, sending some of us to a hospital or to a grave and forcing the rest of us back inside.

My mask is bright and cheerful with a cartoon bunny on it. My mother suggested that our masks should say “Saving Your Life” so we can remind each other what they are for and why we can’t stop wearing them yet.


With a Perspective, I’m Shantha Smith.

 Shantha Smith runs a bookkeeping service specializing in nonprofits. She lives in San Jose.