I just had my first full week of commuting to my new office. I moved in last Thursday and while I love the new space, I’m less keen on my morning and evening commute.
I’m lucky, in that I’m not heading into the City anymore, but out into London’s docklands. I travel east, away from the flow of commuters coming into the centre of London each morning. That said, my journey still involves a brief trip on the Jubilee Line and a few stops on the DLR afterwards.
The trip itself is very short – maybe thirty minutes door-to-door – but the ratio of idiots to sensible types is doing my head in.
Despite all the publicity, the posters and the regular announcements, I’m seeing people without face masks in alarming numbers. I know that some people, for a variety of reasons, can’t wear them. But the numbers I’m seeing are higher than I think I would have expected. But let’s leave that to one side.
What’s even worse, in my view, is the volume of Londoners making a very half-hearted and ultimately futile attempt to wear a mask. You’re supposed to cover your nose and mouth, but so many of the masks I’m seeing each morning and evening are snug around the throat or hanging off a single ear. Nowhere near most and/or nose. It defeats the whole point of having one at all!
Secondly, there’s the performance of wearing a mask when entering the tube station and keeping it on until you’re on the platform, then whipping it off just as you set foot on the train. I’ve seen so many men do this at Canary Wharf station. As if mask-wearing is beneath them, or just for the ‘little people’.
I don’t think many people actually enjoy wearing a face mask, especially when on public transport. I certainly don’t. But that’s not the point. It’s about public health and attempting to stop the spread of a killer illness.
I’m commuting to my office because I work in it alone, in a very quiet building. I keep my mask on for the entire journey and only remove it when I sit down at my desk. I put it back on when I need to leave the room – to get lunch or head to the bathroom. I’m not doing it because I think it’s somehow magical, but because if more of us do it, we’ll get control back over the spread of COV ID-19.
Mask wearing is an obvious visual cue to others. I don’t think it makes me a saint, but it does indicate to others around me that I’m following the rules. So yeah, if you get on the DLR mask-free, in a group of four or five and treat it like a party bus, ignoring social distancing rules, I’m going to move as far away from you as I can.
And I really don’t give a flying fuck what you think of me as a result.