California Snitching

By: - April 17, 2020

It’s a bright, sunny day – the first clear one in a week of very rare desert rain. My husband, after spending his day teaching our kindergartener as well as his own elementary school class, has taken our two young children out on a golf cart ride. My son is smiling for the first time all day – the now-standard far-off look on his face replaced by a joyous grin.

“Where are your masks?” A masked man is suddenly in my husband’s face – not socially distant at all, I might add. He proceeds to issue threats of a fine.

My six year old son, smile now gone, begins shrieking in terror. My three year old daughter, blue eyes wide, stares at the scary man, mouth agape.

On April 7, 2020 our county issued some badly-worded instructions regarding face-coverings. The “order” described acceptable face-coverings as homemade cloth ear loop covers, bandannas and handkerchiefs, and neck gaiters. It went on to state that surgical masks and N95 masks must be preserved for healthcare workers and emergency responders. On April 8, 2020 a clarification to the instructions was issued but, while clarifying that masks need not be worn while driving in a car and that fines and jail time would not be enforced by the police – only used as a deterrent, the clarification mostly only addressed the extreme overreach of the previous instructions. Those instructions had singled out Christians and their religious services. It stated that other clarifying guidance would be forthcoming.

So far there has been no “other clarifying guidance”, and I believe it is desperately needed. In our small town neighbors have taken to calling the police on people who are seen not wearing masks. Dozens, if not more, calls are being made daily to a police department which no doubt has much bigger issues to address. Our county has one of the highest crime rates in the United States. I am certain our police officers have violent crimes and drug problems for which to respond. It would be a complete waste of resources for them to travel from miles away to respond to emergency calls regarding families with small children daring to walk outside in the open air without a mask. Useless snitching by uneducated people who clearly don’t understand what the word ‘deterrent’ means shouldn’t be a priority to an already overburdened police force.

For now, we will hope for saner times and a more knowledgeable and literate public. Meanwhile our small children will likely continue to wake us in the night, terrified screams filling the house when nightmares about monsters in face masks come to visit.