I watched warily as Leo wheeled his cart onto the elevator with me, his mask below his nose. He used to pull it up when he saw me, mindful of the many conversations we’d had about getting the vaccine, but lately he’d become a full “Noser.”
A Noser is my term for people who wear masks, but ineffectively, as if they were complying with the rules. A mask poser, if you will. It’s said in the same tone that Seinfeld used to greet his disliked neighbor Newman on the old television show. “Oh hello, Noser.” For the record, I’ve never actually greeted anyone in this way, at least not aloud. In the interests of staff relations, I didn’t even step off the elevator when Leo entered, but merely faced forward and hoped for the best.
Leo, a married father with young children, wasn’t vaccinated. His mother had cured him of COVID-19 with herbal teas, he’d told me. What herbs did she use? He wasn’t sure, but it involved turmeric. I have turmeric ginger tea in my cabinet and while I’d drink some if I became ill, it’s not my full COVID strategy. It seemed to be his, and I was concerned for him and his family, and for me and our coworkers.
I’ve been noticing a lot more Nosers at work lately, catching shocking glimpses of naked mouths at nursing stations, and walking into rooms full of unmasked employees celebrating over lunch the impending departure of yet another long-time staff member, or “Haddits,” as McKnight’s Editorial Director John O’Connor puts it.