I had to follow up on my last post, in which I totally laughed off the idea of a mask fitting — fiddle dee dee, how hard can it be? — because as some of you knew, a mask fitting test is a WHOLE ENTIRE THING.

In fact, the name alone was a strong clue that I completely ignored: mask fitting test. I thought I was BEING fitted, in the sense that someone would be figuring out what sort of mask size I needed, and maybe there would be a little surprise to that, like getting a bra fitting and finding out you’ve been cramming your hooters into the wrong cup size for the last decade, but otherwise the experience would be passive and there would be no expectations of me while the experts do whatever it is they need to do.

Wrong, wrong, wrong, with a side of wrong and save more wrong for dessert. The test administrator did start by telling me what mask I needed to be using but from there on out the (seemingly endless) appointment was entirely focused on my ability to correctly 1) put on the mask, and 2) perform various tasks without breaking the mask’s seal.

In the year of our lord 2022, who in the hell struggles to put on a mask, right? All I can say in defense of my humiliating performance is that this particular mask (an N95 ‘Aura’ from 3M) was more complicated than any I had used before. It had two straps that needed to go over the back of the head, but one of the straps had to be under my hair, and I hadn’t brought a ponytail holder.

I can’t explain why this flatlined me so thoroughly but it did. An unknown amount of time passed — I’m still blocking it out — while I engaged in a silent and increasingly sweaty fight with two bands of elastic and one human head, and I’m sure I would still be there to this day if the nurse hadn’t eventually magicked a disposable latex glove into a hairband for me.

“I mean, I’ve seen worse,” she told me, not unkindly. “One fellow got himself so worked up we had a take a little time out.” I laughed breezily in order to indicate that I myself was fine and most certainly not on the brink of diving headfirst through the nearest office window, ha ha ha.

Anyway, once I had it on I had to read a long passage of text and do a bunch of weird bending around, all while connected via what looked like an oxygen tube to a machine that was checking the seal. (Apparently they don’t do the scent thing anymore, if anyone’s experienced that.)

I managed to pass the test (although obviously I FAILED IN MY HEART), and at the end the nurse asked me how the mask felt. “Rough,” I said honestly/nasally, because no shit, this thing is suffocatingly tight, extremely not comfortable, I couldn’t wait to get it off.

“Yeah,” she said, looking at me. “It’s been rough.”

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Elizabeth_K
Elizabeth_K
7 months ago

“yeah. It’s been rough.” An apt summary of our last two years … sorry for tough test.

TinaNZ
TinaNZ
7 months ago

That last line is a little bit heartbreaking.

sooboo
sooboo
7 months ago

I’ve been wearing N95 with goggles (so fun!) since I have to be on a work site (in Arizona) that is indoors and unventilated and no one wears a mask. One weird thing I’ve noticed is how enhanced smells are for the few moments after I take it off. Rough doesn’t even begin to describe it. This era feels like a curse that just won’t lift.

Kim
Kim
7 months ago

If we have to live in this dysphoric, pre-apocalyptic era, I’m so thankful for your particular brand of levity.

Victoria
Victoria
7 months ago

I just got my first N95 mask and that double-elastic band situation has done me in too! It’s more complicated than one would think