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Thank you, police, for all you do — but why won’t you wear a mask?

Don’t they know that all the Chicago police officers who died in the line of duty in 2020 succumbed to COVID-19?

A study in India found that cloth masks helped reduce the spread of COVID-19 — but not as much as surgical masks did.
Why are masks so controversial?
Paul Saltzman / Sun-Times

The COVID thing.

Mask on. Mask off.

The huff. The puff.

The daily dilemma: Should one reuse the mask with … er, lipstick stains?

The daily penance: Offering up the misery of facial fabric as the right thing to do.

Thus, last Tuesday, I was caught in the crosshairs of an interpretation of individual rights.

The scene: An unmasked woman (me) stuck between two office entry doors to a building posting a mask mandate.

The drama: My cha cha cha to mask up while stuck between entrances.

The drum roll: Musical accompaniment to the hand jive and foot flops as I attempted to extract a mask that was trapped like a vole in the hole of my purse.

So here’s the story:

In the midst of my mask mambo, a kind hand surfaced.

A smiling, unmasked workman inside the building suddenly pulled the door open and held it while I fussed and fumbled. I pointed to my face to explain why I was taking so long to go inside.

Then, just as suddenly, he frowned and froze and changed his demeanor. He turned his head away — and muttered while continuing to hold the door for me:

“As an American, I have the right NOT to wear a mask.”

Then he turned back into the building and disappeared.

There was no time to thank him for holding the door. No time to tell him I hadn’t been criticizing him by pointing to my mask.

I was flummoxed.

An act of kindness and consideration followed by an angry admonition.

One American chiding another; both ostensibly raised in a country disengaging because of how we define individual rights.

It’s been hard to reckon, especially since a preponderance of Chicago cops are refusing to heed the state’s order that everyone mask up indoors.

Heroic police men and women, who take the oath of heroes to serve and protect, refusing to do so by putting on gear the weight of a Kleenex?

Don’t they know that all the Chicago police officers who died in the line of duty in 2020 succumbed to COVID-19?

Stunningly, the rank and file at a indoor roll call at one of the CPD’s largest city districts a month ago were all maskless.

“Why the hesitancy?” I asked. The response was a quiet head shake.

Is our COVID message filled with too much calcified scientific policy? Is the message not the right message?

Chicago police union chief John Catanzara’s video rant telling Chicago cops not to comply with the city’s COVID vax requirement mandate was alarming!

But isn’t everything these days? If you won’t get the vaccine, then isn’t wearing a mask even more important to protect your health — and others?

“Police officers refusing to wear masks is a mystery to me,” said a former top CPD adviser.

“Is it an exaggerated appreciation of individual freedom underplaying our moral obligation to others?” he asked.

“Is the worship of the individual a detriment to the common good?

“Is our national identity screwed up?

“Or do cops generally feel their souls have been torn out?”

To the unmasked mystery man who extended his kind hand last Tuesday, I give thanks.

To the police officers who put their lives on the line daily for all of us, I give thanks.

But I don’t get why they’ll don bulletproof vests to protect themselves — but not masks.

Then again, this masked lady needs to move on.

The space race …

Astrophysics.

My gawd.

What is that all about?

So when actor William Shatner, the oldest as well as the oddest person to enter outer space, exited his Blue Origin space capsule spewing warp speed eloquence, I kinda understood the astro part.

Shatner, 90, “Star Trek’s” legendary Capt. James Tiberius Kirk, claims he still gets teary-eyed reliving his trek into real space defined by a color chart composed of sky blue and deep black; the good earth and the eternal void.

And while the young bones and flexible muscles of Shatner’s capsule mates spent precious minutes floating in the weightlessness of outer space, he spent most of his time looking out his window at the “blue, warm, nurturing planet.”

“I don’t want to recover from this experience,” he said.

So let’s add the color green to Shatner’s color palette based on a bet he can now smile all the way to the bank as Captain Kirk of the 21st century.

Wild Bill must be all beamed up.

Captain out.

Sneedlings …

A warm shout-out to boffo wordsmith/veteran Chicago reporter/former curmudgeon Charlie Madigan on his blog reflections following a recent near-death experience. “Don’t be afraid to love your family, your friends, the humanity around you. Once you are gone, the chance to do that disappears,” he writes. A must read. Beautiful. … Saturday birthdays: Angela Lansbury, 95; John Mayer, 43; Tim Robbins, 62; Bob Weir, 73 … Sunday birthdays: Eminem, 48.