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Keep Smiling (under your mask)

The first time I went grocery shopping after the pandemic hit was quite an experience.

In addition to watching everyone scramble to fill their carts with bread and toilet paper, it

seemed that people were hesitant to even make eye contact. My casual hello’s when passing

by fellow shoppers were met with quickly averted eyes.

Even now, as we gradually become almost desensitized to the coronavirus case-counts

and adjust to the ever-changing safety guidelines, it feels eerie to complete a shopping trip in


Facial expressions are a crucial part of nonverbal communication. While I’m happy to

wear a mask to limit the spread of the coronavirus, I find myself struggling to interpret certain

situations without the visual cues.

It is impossible to know what other people are going through, and that has become

especially true in light of the pandemic. Everyone has been affected in one way or another,

which is why I try to be mindful of communication. The overworked grocery store employees

can’t see my smile, and the other shoppers might not hear my “excuse me” as I walk by.

At one point, my family and I even announced to the Walmart cashier, “Hey, I’m smiling

under here, just so you know!”

We are all, collectively, going through a turbulent and scary time. Despite the overuse of

the phrase, these truly are “unprecedented times.” Kindness is especially important right now,

but it can be tricky to convey while masked and six feet apart.

So I urge you: remember to be kind when you can. Draw a smile on your mask and

announce it, if you must.

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