Wear a Mask, Save a Life…

…and a business

Illustration by Tony Healey

Keith Twitchell spent 16 years running his own business before becoming president of the Committee for a Better New Orleans. He has observed, supported and participated in entrepreneurial ventures at the street, neighborhood, nonprofit, micro- and macro-business levels.

Small business owners are struggling with so many things right now, which makes it all the more unfortunate that it falls on businesses to enforce regulations like face mask wearing — and that selfish patrons are forcing them to do so.

Since every reputable medical and scientific expert on earth says wearing masks helps lessen the spread of COVID-19, it is beyond comprehension that a significant portion of the population still refuses to do so. All this does is put people’s lives and health at risk, set our economy even further back and cancel football season.

It also puts business owners, and their employees, in a really tough position.

But as Mark Twain said, “Never argue with a fool, people might not be able to tell the difference.” So, instead of trying to persuade people to do the right thing, maybe it’s worth trying to entice them instead.

And therein lies an entrepreneurial opportunity, one your humble columnist offers up freely to anyone who is positioned to run with.

What if we could make mask-wearing sorta, kinda fun? Maybe even an opportunity to make a clever personal statement in the process?

So, on the theory that we could all use a good chuckle or two right now, here are some ideas for face mask statements in the age of COVID-19 (full disclosure, I stole or adapted a couple of these).

• “Keep Drew Brees safe, wear a mask”
• “It’s for ya mama n’em”
• “We’re New Orleanians. We wear masks.”
• “My other mask is for robbing banks” (I recommend NOT wearing this to the bank!)
• “I’m not being safe, I’m hiding from my kids”
• “Anybody seen my snorkel?”
• “Just pretend it’s Mardi Gras”
• “This mask blocks viruses and broccoli” (or pick your least favorite food in the world)
• “Keep calm and mask on”
• “Not a political statement”
• “My doctor made me do it”
• “I can still eat crawfish faster than you”
• “Worn on the Bayou”
• “My lips are NOT sealed!”
• “Stolen from Charity Hospital”
• “When the going gets tough, the tough wear masks”
• “Real men wear masks” (Real women too!)
• “Jazz Mask” (I could see this done like sheet music)
• “They all masked for you”

I’m sure the possibilities are truly endless here, and even if you are not going to turn this into your new entrepreneurial venture, maybe your next evening entertainment can be coming up with your own set of brilliantly creative mask ideas.

I really do hope this put a much-needed smile on your face (one that you are hiding with a mask if you are reading this in public). But I want to end on a slightly more serious note: We truly are all in this together. Solving the coronavirus problem — at least until there is a viable vaccine — is one of those “death by a thousand cuts” solutions, and we each need to be part of that solution. We allow so much to divide us, yet we are in a time when we simply must be on the same team.

This includes supporting our local businesses and entrepreneurs; in turn, that goes beyond spending our money with them. It is in each of our hands to enable us to move forward, socially and economically. It is within our power to keep business owners and employees safe. Wearing your face mask is being a team player.

Hey, there could be a mask in that.