Arguing with teen workers over masks achieves nothing, comply with mask regulations


Tessa Collinson

On July 27, Indiana issued the mask mandate. As a worker at Freddy’s Frozen Custard on 146th Street, my coworkers and I are required to enforce the mask mandate. We can’t choose whether or not we want to enforce it. However, customers ranging from teenagers to middle-aged men regularly argue with me about wearing masks almost every time I work.

One night last month, an old man ranted to me for nearly five minutes about how he was going to contact Freddy’s corporate office because we weren’t enforcing masks to his liking. That same night, another man left with his daughters because I asked him to wear a mask. His argument was that I was “wearing a mask, so I was protected.”

To be honest, I’m exhausted. I’m sick and tired of arguing with at least one customer a night about wearing a mask.

While I was already pro-masks, after an older family member contracted COVID-19, I felt even more of a responsibility to enforce the mask-wearing mandate, so others wouldn’t have the same fears I had while that family member was in the hospital. The outright refusal to wear masks makes not only me uncomfortable, but our customers as well. Multiple people come up to me each night asking us about our policy about masks and sharing their concerns about people not wearing them.

I try my best to make sure I ask people to wear masks as they pass by me at the register. However, we are extremely busy at any point in time, specifically over the weekends, on top of being severely understaffed at times. It’s hard to police everybody in our lobby and ensure they are always wearing masks. And if someone states they have medical reasons for not wearing a mask, we’re not allowed to question them.

Whether you wear a mask or you’re complaining about the lack of them, I have only one thing to say: I am 17 years old. I go to work after a long day at school and I typically don’t get off until at least 11 p.m. So when someone comes up to me venting to me about their frustrations about masks, it’s exhausting. I’m trying my best to do my part, but I am not the one with the power to make any change. I always offer to get one of my managers if people are concerned. Yet people still insist on holding me accountable versus allowing someone to come over who can make a change, holding me back from my many other duties on a shift.

This isn’t about masks. This is about showing basic levels of human decency. By complaining to us workers, you’re making us uncomfortable, especially because we’re not in a position to make any sort of change. It’s emotionally and mentally draining, and I know that you’d be frustrated if you were in that position, too. There are 20 zillion things we could be doing other than listen to you complain. All I ask is the next time you eat out, please show more respect for the workers, especially the teens. We’re trying our best on top of everything else going on in our lives.

View more of Tessa’s works here.

The views in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the HiLite staff. Reach Tessa Collinson at [email protected]