Ask Ann Cannon: How can I tell my neighbors to mask up?

Ann Cannon

Dear Ann Cannon • I see so many of my elderly neighbors not wearing masks. What is the best way to ask that they wear one? Or is it better to just leave a few disposable masks at their doorstep?

Not Quite as Elderly

Dear Not Quite • I’ve heard it said (a lot recently) that it used to be the parents who were the ones telling their kids to be careful. The roles have reversed, haven’t they? Now it’s the adult kids telling their elderly parents to be careful, because it does seem that some of them aren’t taking the pandemic as seriously as they should. Your neighborhood is obviously a case in point.

So, what should you do? The answer depends on your relationship with your neighbors. If you’re on friendly terms, I would just come right out and ask if they need a mask and then offer to give them some of the disposable ones you mention. If they live in certain Utah counties, of course, they’re already required to wear them in public places. Otherwise, I suppose, they can just accept your gift and decide (hopefully) to do the right thing and wear the damn mask.

And speaking of masks, here’s a letter from a reader who I’m guessing doesn’t live in your neighborhood:

Dear Ann Cannon • I’m elderly, live alone, and don’t go out much. I have a nice neighbor who comes to check on me most days. Trouble is, she doesn’t wear a mask. Yesterday I said through the door that I was very sorry, but I couldn’t open it because she wasn’t wearing a mask. She got mad and left, and I’d like to call to explain, but what can I say to her? And why would anyone get mad anyway? Any ideas?

Worried I’ve Offended My Neighbor

Dear Worried • Well, bottom line, she should be wearing a mask around you, given your age. If the fact she’s angry bothers you (and it appears that it does), you could certainly call your neighbor or write her a note to thank her for her visits. Then tell her that while you didn’t mean to cause offense, you just feel safer when everyone is wearing a mask. In other words, it’s not personal. I hope this helps. Good luck!

Dear Ann Cannon • I do puzzles and play solitaire when I’m not cooking or cleaning and my husband has been critical about it — and me. He thinks I should keep busy, but I feel like if I can’t spend time blanking out COVID and the fear of it, I’ll go mad. Mindless games really help.

When I tried to tell him that, he rolled his eyes. He’s told me before that he thinks I’m a drama queen, but isn’t the fear I feel normal right now? What can I say to him that will make my behavior seem sensible and not nutty?

What’s a Person to Do?

Dear What’s a Person to Do • First things first. Of course a lot of people feel the same way you do. And if playing solitaire and doing puzzles helps you, then go for it! (I have a friend who tells me she’s done over 200 puzzles in the last few months.)

By the way, if you’re cooking and cleaning, you’re plenty busy, and your husband should be thanking you instead of criticizing you. In fact, he should be helping you on both fronts, IMHO. Um, maybe that’s what you should tell him? Frankly, I’m not sure there’s anything you can say to change his mind. But that doesn’t mean you can’t tell him to mind his own business while you pursue the activities that help you find a sense of peace right now.

I’m sorry for his unkindness. You don’t deserve it. Nobody does.

Ann Cannon is The Tribune’s advice columnist. Got a question for Ann? Email her at askann@sltrib.com or visit the Ask Ann Cannon page on Facebook.

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