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Reporter asks T workers why they're not wearing masks, gets exactly the sort of answers you'd expect

A Boston Magazine reporter chronicles his interactions with maskless T workers.

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This is exactly what goes on on the T. If the employees can't be bothered to wear masks they have no inclination to compel riders to. I have to take the Blue Line to work and a noticeable amount of people don't wear them. Ten there is a large percentage of the geniuses who have them covering their mouths but not their nose. And the people who take them off to talk on phones. And the everpresent people who feel consistently compelled to eat and drink on the T even now, and have their masks pulled down as a result. I even saw one grown woman on the T with her mask off so she could suck on a lollipop. I'm not kidding! We live in a time when people will let nothing, absolutely nothing, get in the way of their small, immediate gratifications.

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We live in a time when people will let nothing, absolutely nothing, get in the way of their small, immediate gratifications.

I totally agree, but I would add that there's a good reason--not an excuse, but a reason--for that. People are fixated on small, immediate gratifications because looking at the world right now, there sure as hell aren't any gratifications of the large/long-term kind on the horizon.

I'm a white collar guy so, admittedly, I haven't had anywhere near the struggles that some others have had during this crisis. Still, I operate on the old social compact of work and reward. The harder I work, the more I theoretically ought to get in return. I work hard to fund a lifestyle that I find personally fulfilling. The reason I'm mentioning all of this is that as far back as April, I had a really crappy realization: they figured how to keep the "work" part of the compact rolling though Zoom meetings and VPN connections; however, they completely shut off the "reward" side with a pat on the head and a smarmy "we're all in this together." Sure. I'm working harder than ever in my professional life and there's no gratification in it right now, hasn't been since March. I can't be alone in feeling like this.

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Your theory is a very plausible one. The only problem is, people were already engaging in this immediate gratification type behavior long before the pandemic. People cutting their toenails on the T, people flossing and discarding the floss on the ground, women putting on full faces of makeup with an entire salon of cosmetic equipment on their laps, people engaging in loud and very personal arguments on cell phones, people eating complete and pungent meals, utensils included..acting like they are in their own private space. Just another day on the T.

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that's the reward. Companies were compelled to not have layoffs in return for the govt loans but those restrictions are over. They're reviewing at a minimum once a month for the need for layoffs and they're happening quietly with so many people working from home - you only hear about by accident. It can and will likely get worse. But you can pay your rent/mortgage and continue to fund your lifestyle. I'm working harder too but I can also pay my bills at a job that I can work from home, limiting my exposure to the virus. 50M people aren't as lucky.

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Should one of these people get sick they'd sue the system and most likely reach a settlement in their favor. (Or their estate's favor.) No matter what, the state is on the hook.

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But that is a good point.

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Of course, there are some great MBTA employees who do their jobs well and genuinely care about it. But in the big picture, the broken system at the MBTA goes far beyond maintenance backlogs, budget shortfalls, and an inability to get their shiny new trains functioning properly on a consistent basis.

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... respecting the signs in the busses and trains that close off parts of the vehicles “ For operator safety”. When that is the only place I can be 6 feet from other passengers, that’s where I go.

It’s also why I’m not using the T as much as I was in the beginning.

My experience with the maskless in general matches what this reporter has experienced.
I behave as if the person has forgotten to put on or pull up their mask, but I do point it out to them politely giving them the benefit of the doubt. Assuming they are just forgetful. I’ve also been distracted and forgot on a few occasions. If they get testy, I know it was done on purpose and give as much back as they give.

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Who has since passed, I can assure you that your average T employee finds the know it all busybody walking around asking these questions as the lowest form of pond scum.

You have to put up with people who refuse to pay their fare, crappy equipment, hot as hell stations in the summer, freezing cold outside work in the winter, and all the people who dropped just under 3 bucks to get from Shawmut to Davis expect to be treated like they are on their own NetJet.

The Go F' Yourself response from the last worker would have been my dad by the way. Easily. He would have put on the mask, but then repeated the line.

Like everywhere in life, there are the good, the bad, and the leave me the hell alone types just trying to do their jobs. This story demonstrates it.

By the way, the author of the story is a known crank who sued Home Depot because screws weren't individually priced as opposed to the label with the price on the outside of the bin. If you see him asking you a question about eating your peas and do you have clean underwear on just after a group of rats was seen in the breakroom at Albany or Cabot, refer to two lines above this paragraph for your retort.

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... who never actually worked for the T has spoken.

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Who Can't Spell Buses Correctly Has Chimed In.

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trashing your family name like that.

The Go F' Yourself response from the last worker would have been my dad by the way.

Then he was just as much of an asshole as the guy the writer questioned. And now, you've told us all that he was.

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Sweet - Adam, we have someone here insulting my father. He's 6 feet under at New Calvary and would have trouble responding in kind. There's insulting me, which I don't mind, and then coming after my family, which may lead to a completely different response.

I'll give you the benefit of walking back your statement fairly quickly, Thanks.

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Perhaps you should ask perruptor to step outside the site and fight it out on e-mail?

Was your dad a train driver or mechanic? That would explain the antisocial personality, given the shit my bus driver FIL got when he ran your dad's union.

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YOU JUST TOLD US HE WOULD'VE YELLED PROFANITIES THE SAME WAY!?!?!

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Letting in Anons to insult people.

Go back to Brooklyn rich kid.

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I don't really talk much about growing up in New York, so I can understand how you don't know what the hell you're talking about.

But in any case, if the comments here are causing you this much grief, nobody's forcing you to stay.

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Can you verify me so John allows me into his world?

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Your bias is showing.

Poor stewardship on your part.

You present a forum for the free flow of ideas and opinions.

You delete comments when they don't reflect your opinions and tastes even though you say that the content is theirs to post.

Someone insulted a member of my family. Me, I don't care about. My family is something else.

I am going to stay, just to be the crank that reminds the Camberville Crowd and Can't Afford Cambervile crowd about the real world and not their fantasyland

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.

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The reporter is the lowest? How about the state that refuses to fund the T properly? how about the selfish riders that treat T employees like servants? turn your brain on.

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You're mad because people are criticizing your father, a public-facing employee of a public agency, for saying "Go F*ck Yourself" to member of the public when asked about wearing a mask, which is required by T policy in the middle of a pandemic? If anyone in any other job was that rude to a customer, they would be out of a job immediately.

I recognize that working for the T and serving the public can be a thankless job, that some members of the public are rude and ridiculous. But that does not excuse his behavior. (a) He should have been wearing a mask. (b) When someone asked him about it, he should have said "I'm sorry" and put the mask on.

EDIT: I misread the original comment and didn't realize it was theoretical about what his dad would have done. My point still stands though that "Go F*ck Yourself" is not an appropriate reaction.

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I agree that Mr. Costello is suggesting that his father would proudly act like a jerk, and has since gotten mad because of people saying that that would be the behavior of a jerk, but please keep in mind that the father in question is DEAD and all of this is speculation. The senior Mr. Costello has not refused to wear a mask, he was not asked by a more timid member of the public to please wear his mask properly, he did not tell any such person to go fuck themselves, and the whole thing is a ridiculous imaginary fight.

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there are an awful lot of people like that who are around and about, who have this "go fuck yourself" attitude when ever anybody speaks about their refusal to wear masks, or to cover both their mouths and noses with them. People have absolute no right what. so. ever, to flaunt rules for mask-wearing and social distancing, or the rules against having large gatherings of people when we're in the middle of a deadly Covid-19 pandemic. It's not just people who work for the MBTA, either. Plenty of college students, and other people, too, have that attitude. It's rather sickening, imho.

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you aren't a reporter. I can understand why you don't care about others motives. A reporter should dig deeper.

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Do you have any proof that Adam deletes comments, John Costello? I've been reading this site for ~10 years. I've never seen Adam deleting comments, nor have I seen anyone show proof that Adam deletes comments. Maybe people aren't posting comments that agree with you because they don't agree with you?

Also I live in Dorchester and I'm over age 40 and certainly am not rich, so please try to find something other than my location, age, or income to criticize when you reply. I trust that you will find other insults in your arsenal.

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I got a cunnilingus joke about another commenter excised a couple of years ago.

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I would also probably delete a cunnilingus joke about another commenter if I ran a website. Is there any proof that Adam deletes comments because he disagrees with their opinions? Because that's what John is alleging.

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Must you? You don't have anything better to do with your increasingly valuable free time?
You'll be delighted to know you've won the "You Poor Thing" as well as "Snowflake Of The Decade" award.

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Someone insulted your father, and I believe it was you. You stated that he was the kind of guy who would deliberately ignore regulations intended to protect worker and passenger safety, and then, when called out on it, would have told the person calling him out to "f off".

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Look who it was who brought JC's dad into this. Wasn't me. JC's apparently proud that his father, while on the public payroll, would have felt entitled to curse a member of the public who asked him to comply with rules designed to protect that public.

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I'm proud of person who did honorable work for decades after coming essentially broke to this county. A person who hauled people around the city to work and other appointments.

I'm proud that he busted his arse, along with my mother, to scrimp and save for buy a house and encourage my education.

After a while, however, you get the privileged in their own mind who seem to think that just because a token was dropped into the box you owned that person behind the wheel.

Occasionally human nature takes over and you have to tell that privileged know it all to go f themselves. I saw it happen, but far, far less than the pleases and thank yous, and have a good days which were also dolled out.

Maybe the attitude of T workers to many is one of that of a crank because they are sick of people who think that because you have a T pass in hand, that you are the boss.

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The rest of us who deal in customer service, have clients or work with people have this exact same struggle.

We don't get to swear at customers when they're being rude, and we don't get to ignore safety procedures.

Not sure why you're clutching your pearls so hard about this.

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You think someone asking a valid question is attempting to own you?

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the mbta state subsidized transportation system, which answers to state regulators, and are subject to state health protocols. so the riders, in effect, do have a right to call out employees who are acting in an unsafe manner.

you offered that your old man would have ignored the rules and been rude to the riders who called him out. so you opened this up to criticizing him, not the other way around. and this working class pride narrative is not justification for being an asshole to customers.

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.... his grave right now. Please stop embarrassing the dead, sonny boy.

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As a former MBTA employee, I am ashamed of the time I worked there. The corruption, outright theft, and malfeasance is horrifying. I had heard rumors before I got hired but seeing it first hand was an eye opener. But a job's a job, right? It pays the bills. And slowly kills your soul. P.S. I wasn't union.

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a properly-executed self-own. The last month has given us two beauties: Ben Shapiro and the WAP incident, and now this. What a time to be alive.

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Thanks guy. I can hear the Bevis and Butthead laugh going off in your head you dork.

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...when the worst insult they can come up with is to call another (presumed) man by a woman's name.

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You're actually go crying to Adam when you yourself described your father's asshole behavior and someone calls him an asshole?

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As a daughter of a now passed T worker, I can second this.

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If I told a client to go F themselves, I'd be fired. Especially when that client tried to stop me from doing something that could potentially get that person killed.

The rest of your rant is irrelevant.

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The bad and the leave me the hell alone types should quit then. No one is forcing them to work there. If you can’t act like a decent and responsible person GTFO. They will be easily replaced as there are many willing people waiting for those jobs and the generous benefits that come with them. This goes for shitty cops, too.

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While it's not always the case, Kinopio is the voice of reason on this one.

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Even a broken clock is right twice a day...

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I can assure you that your average T employee finds the know it all busybody walking around asking these questions anybody attempting to hold them accountable for job performance as the lowest form of pond scum.

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Any frontline worker is frustrated to be held accountable for a system that hasn't been repaired for 30 years and now expects them to risk their lives.

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I agree the T has been underfunded and wasn't what it was (it was well funded and the workers had golden benefits back when John's dad worked there btw) and their jobs put their lives at risk during a pandemic but not wearing a mask and not enforcing that requirement (both by T policy and by law) with the public is VOLUNTARILY putting your life at risk and compounding the risk. Even if the workers alone wore masks, they'd be safer than without, regardless what the public says or does.

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speaking ill of someone who has passed, especially if the person doing so didn't even know that them. I'm sorry you have to endure that, differences of opinion elsewhere aside.

But also looking at the initial story objectively...fixed:

I can assure you that your average T employee finds the know it all busybody walking around asking these questions as the lowest form of pond scum. should be wearing a mask at all times they're required to when on the job.

...

Like everywhere in life, there are the good, the bad, and the leave me the hell alone types just trying to do their jobs. This story demonstrates it that the latter two types are currently a problem and not doing their jobs the way they're supposed to.

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If T employees feel anything like you do, please advise them to quit, they are likely providing subpar service.

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My dad worked for the air force - pretty sure planes would crash if I had to keep watch over them though. What do any of things you list have to do with a pandemic? Are any of them deadly to both the T work and all the passengers? Did you dad die of covid because someone refused to wear a mask? How many passengers died because he refused to wear one or their coworkers and family members as they went forth clueless they were exposed? The public has the right to know if they are safe and this is a big fat no - also the reason I won't take the T until there's a vaccine. It's not just their lives they're endangering.

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By stating what you believe your dad would say you put your impression of him out for debate (granted the kind of debate Bostonians love). So whining about insulting your dad is disingenuous.

I can not know what your father would say in this situation. You can not either because he has passed. That's the weakness of claiming to know what another person might say. After all is said and done know one can.

However, in this moment it does not matter what your dad may or may not have said were he in this particular situation. What matters is today, right now.

During a pandemic that if allowed will be as bad if not worse than the 1918 Flu, behaviors that permit transmitting the coronavirus, and conduct that makes a person susceptible is dangerous.

I don't care atititudes lead to harming, not helping.

Personally I strongly dislike the masks. But I dislike even more the suffering of people sickened with Covid-19.

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Lacking that, could you give us a few more examples on how they look down on the public for interrupting their naps? Thanks in advance.

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Old blue collar Boston attitude vs. new smug Boston attitude!

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this is assholes endangering others vs the people who are forced in close proximity with them. Remember this smug attitude in two months when we're back to announcing the daily dead in the hundreds.

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This is a safety issue for the workers, first and foremost.

It is also a worker education issue.

If workers are not complying with the mandate, there needs to be some non-punitive investigation within the union or the system to understand why. Are masks being issued and are they wearable for long periods in high humidity or during exertion? Are people left to supply their own masks and maybe they shouldn't be? Are there other issues with compliance that need to be addressed?

There may be some very good reasons people aren't wearing them. There may also be some misinformation about their value in protecting workers. There may also be some poor communication or misunderstanding of why they need to be worn, where they need to be worn, and how they need to be worn.

This goes well beyond a reporter asking some questions - this needs a much more systematic and scientific approach from a worker safety perspective and better compliance before the next wave closes in over the winter.

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somebody gets sick? taxpayers pay

somebody dies? taxpayers pay

accident? taxpayers pay

And dont listen to the "some of them are good" nonsense either.

The entire attitude and environment makes sure that any of the good ones have any kind of work ethic ground out of them and just punch a clock and hide for 10 hours with a nice pension waiting for them at the end.

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This has not been my experience at all. I've been pandemic-commuting via MBTA for a couple of months and I can't think of any time I've seen an MBTA worker not wearing a mask.

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I'm really glad to hear that! For your safety and theirs!

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MBTA workers have been risking their lives and died during the pandemic.

They are the definition of essential.

Yeah all workers and riders should wear masks but what are the effective ways to make this happen?

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Hit these scofflaws where it really, really hurts the most--their pocketbooks--with a huge fin, for deliberately and knowingly violating the rules for mask-wearing and social distancing..

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The entire team at my voting location were wearing masks and there was no line today.

And go fuck yourself, VA Shiva.

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A bus driver with the Chittenden County Transportation Authority rotated his mechanical sign to show me the names of every single route the service offered to satisfy my 7-year old Asperger's brain. He had the two minutes to do it between trips, and I appreciated his kindness.

Transit employees are cool. "Go (expletive) yourself" when you serve the public isn't nice. John Costello, surely you can find better examples to share of how your father lived his life. Your standing as a top three commenter (alongside Swirly and MC Slim JB) is undermined by thin-skinned defenses.

Anons aren't an entity. I was told to "grow up" by one two days ago. Big deal. I hung out with a chick last night and I have money. Screw 'em. Rise. And be nicer to Gaffin.

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I will try to do my bestest.

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Was a hothead, but he would never tell one of his passengers to go fuck themselves. (And his uniform was always kept immaculate.)

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I am not saying there is two sides to wearing a mask, but this reporter made zero effort to give the reader any insight to what the employees are thinking and experiencing. He walked around going "gotcha" and saved his respect for subservient female that obeyed his orders. Seems like a mansplaining prick ranting about his current pet peeve. This article is not going to improve the safety and health of riding the subway.

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From the times I’ve dealt with him, the author is kind of an asshole. No, I’ve never told him to do anything to himself, but I’ve thought it enough times.

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He specifically went to multiple stops and asked why various employees weren't wearing masks, how is that zero effort? He provided the answers he was given. And he noted three employees who were not hostile, only giving the gender of one; seems you're injecting your own bias here.

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Most of the people he asked were gruffly dismissive. I doubt he would have gotten much of an interview from "Go fuck yourself, mister." He didn't name names, so he's not trying to get anyone in trouble. These people are ignoring public safety measures for their own convenience; I don't really care what bullshit justification they've convinced themselves of, I just care that they're making the T an unsafe place to ride.

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Or those he simple decided to include in the "article."

Per him, this was over the course of 3 days and multiple lines, transfers and stations. It's click-bait journalism which is common around these parts. And he never mentions an aprox. % of the employees which he encountered that were wearing masks.

Wearing a mask for a full shift with no break from it is hard. And people should show some sympathy. Particularly from a site with some staunch supporters of the BTU who are demanding breaks every 2 hours from their daunting zooms classes 6 measly hours a day.

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He could get people to talk to him. Everyone is gruffly dismissive to assholes. This is not reporting.

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I’ve said, “No comment” to the politest of reporters. Sometimes your opinion is yours to keep to yourself.

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You have most likely not dealt with this reporter.

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.. with me.

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I’ve been agreeing with someone today who I have repeatedly gotten into nasty internet comment battles with. I can say with certainty about myself and feel fairly confident saying about her that in person, both of us are nicer than Mr. Herman. That’s how much of an asshole he is. The sad part is that he fights good fights (wearing masks by T workers is a good thing,) but his personality is strong, so I can easily imagine him not approaching the employees in an even, measured manner.

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It is an important part of the job of being a reporter, engaging people that don't want to talk. This piece was lazy. How hard would be to find a connection that would sit down with you or get someone, anyone to open up.

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As many times as you want.

Whatever floats your boat today.

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Have mandated that MBTA employees wear masks. The employees are telling their bosses to F**k Off.

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I wish someone would ask the State Police why they aren't wearing masks.

Every time I see a Statey they are maskless.

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...you could do it.

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Risk analysis is a process of deciding how likely it is that injury, damage, or loss will happen, and what the effects will be if it does happen. -- collinsdictionary.com

With the ever present risk of electrocution and fatal accident for many of our dedicated T workers, the fact that over 99.96% of Americans WILL NOT die from Covid makes the mask requirement laughable. That statistic was even before the CDC sheepishly admitted last week that the vast majority of "Covid death" patients had one or more pre-existing deadly ailments before contracting the disease. The average age of death is 85, well beyond the US life-expectancy. In other words, we should all be so lucky to survive long enough to be vulnerable to death from Covid.

It's well past time to end the nonsense and join the other states that long ago reopened. Even Biden-Harris, hoping to ride the scare into the White House, quickly backtracked on their push for a mask mandate. Boston Magazine itself is at far more risk of dying from lack of interest than the average T worker or rider dying from Covid.

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Your numbers are twisted no matter how you look at them. But the fundamental flaw is that you are confusing the portion of people in the US who have died from covid as of Today (180K out of 328 Million) or 0.055%, with the overall risk of death from covid. Unless of course, you believe that everyone has already been infected.

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"the vast majority of "Covid death" patients had one or more pre-existing deadly ailments before contracting the disease"

Suggesting that Covid deaths are somehow not attributable to Covid19 because the deceased may have had a preexisting condition (being male or having diabetes, obesity, asthma etc) is a fallacy. These conditions may make it more likely that a person will die if they contract the coronavirus, but they are not the cause of death--the coronavirus infection is the cause of death. If anything, the number of deaths attributable to Covid19 is higher than the estimates (nearly 190,000 as of today.)

Please wake up--this disease is nothing to fool around with. You may feel protected because you are nowhere near 85 years old, but first, none of us are invulnerable and second, casually intimating that the elderly have lived long enough anyway, therefore it doesn't matter much if they die of Covid19 as long as we "join the other states that long ago reopened" makes you seem quite callous as well as young. You might want to rethink your attitudes.

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when you go to work do your job.

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