LETTER: Unmasked Residents are Ignorant, Inconsiderate or Oblivious

Letter to the editor submitted by David A. Shaulson, Greenwich

Ignorant – uninformed about a particular subject.  It can also mean discourteous or rude.  Synonyms: oblivious, unaware, impolite, discourteous.

Inconsiderate – lacking regard for the rights or feelings of others.  Synonyms: thoughtless, uncaring, unthinking, selfish.

Oblivious – being totally unaware of what’s staring us right in the face. It can also mean being forgetful and absent-minded.  Synonyms: unaware, unconscious, insensitive, indifferent, detached, removed.

Take your pick, these are attributes unfortunately shared by many Greenwich residents and visitors.  These are attributes that favor ordinances over suggestions.  These are attributes that require our Government to protect its constituents.

Having largely given up on Greenwich Avenue as a safe place to walk, fearful of contagious folks who neither yield the right of way, nor wear masks, we were advised to try Cos Cob Park.  The park is a scenic, narrow, one way, paved ring that follows the water in Cos Cob, with clear signage at its entrance that masks are required when physical distance cannot be maintained.

Fortunately, the first three groups of two that passed us were either wearing masks or donned them to pass. 

Next, we had a woman on her phone who was asked to please mask before passing.  Oblivious, she apologized, pulled her jacket over her mouth and nose and passed. 

Next, was a young female jogger approaching from behind unmasked and about to pass within a few feet on the narrow path.  I motioned for her to stop and asked her to please put on a mask out of respect for others and as required in the park where distance could not be maintained.  Inconsiderate, she ran right past while yelling, “joggers are exempt”.

Finally, a family of four on bicycles approached to pass.  I again turned around and motioned for them to stop.  Oddly, the masked father passed and just continued on, while the unmasked mother and two unmasked children stopped.  I asked the mother why they were riding unmasked and passing people in close proximity.  As if ignorant of the rules and ignorant she said, “Jonny just pass them.”  Her son rode by unmasked.  Inconsiderate and ignorant, she then addressed us, “Why don’t you just go home.”  Then she rode past, with an empty baby seat, still unmasked, with her daughter. 

Now towards the end of our walk, we came upon this family again in the parking lot at what appeared to be their car.  Shockingly, they were now five, having retrieved what I guess was a sleeping baby that they had left in their car while they went for their ride.  Perhaps the husband had rode ahead, leaving his wife and two children, embarrassed that his wife had deliberately ignored the rules that he was obviously following, or perhaps he rode ahead out of concern for the baby they had abandoned in their car.  It’s hard to say which one of these folk’s abhorrent behavior was more aberrant.

I will continue to seek a safe place to walk, but fear that it is nearly impossible when people are left to their own discretion to physically distance and wear masks.  One look no further than our oblivious Governor who shared a meal outside with the Mayor of Stamford, neither of whom could know with certainty the Covid status of the other.  Then, as if this indiscretion was not enough, stood unmasked next to the unmasked restaurant owner for a photo op. 

Wearing a mask is foreign.  Without a mandate, many people will forget, will not care, or will object to donning a mask for the benefit of their neighbors, any of which will lead to additional sickness and death.  During this pandemic, without an efficacious vaccine or therapeutic, we need an enforceable ordinance or executive order to mandate masks in our densely populated and trafficked “restricted zones”.  Allowing optionality callously fails to protect those folks in Greenwich who actually care about the welfare of others.  Might I suggest that there be a significant fine for failure to don a mask in a “restricted zone” unless one is (1) seated (to allow for eating and drinking), or (2) has a medical reason that makes wearing a mask burdensome.  I posit a little bit of enforcement, will quickly result in a whole lot of compliance; and a whole lot of compliance will minimize sickness and death in the Town of Greenwich.

As we reopen our Town, it is imperative that our elected leaders avoid the willful blindness of pretending that they too have not witnessed the same dangerous behavior in our “restricted zones”.  Step up and protect the public health; this is far from over and you will be judged on your actions.