On March 13th, 2020 this website—the coffee web log known as Sprudge—published an editorial entitled You Need To Tip, Dammit. Here in late June 2020 you still need to tip, dammit, but there is another pressing need to which we must enthusiastically opine: you need to wear a mask.

We are in a precarious societal moment here in the United States, wherein COVID-19, far from going dormant, is spreading at a rapidly increasing pace. We know much more now about how it spreads (and how it doesn’t), and the best way we as a society can protect ourselves, our families, and the service workers we come into contact with along the way. Legitimate doctors, epidemiologists, infectious disease experts, and medical professionals of all stripes, from every corner of the globe, all agree on the same thing: wearing a mask in public settings significantly reduces the transmission of COVID-19.

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Is it foolproof? No. Is it perfect? No. Does it help? Yes, and quite a lot. That this simple fact has been politicized in America is a shocking and saddening indictment of this country’s current state. I won’t say stuff like, “I don’t care who you vote for,” or, “this isn’t about Donald Trump,” because I do, and it is, but there is a fundamental underlying truth worth expressing above all else, and it is this: wearing a mask in public is the morally, ethically, and yes, even spiritually correct thing to do at this moment. This is especially true in the cafe, in the restaurant take-out window, and at the grocery store, venues populated by service workers who are risking their lives for no more noble purpose than the simple, cruel reality of Going To Work In 2020.

If you’re going inside to buy something, wear a mask. If you’re waiting in line to purchase a coffee drink, wear a mask. If you are going to speak directly to a person whose job it is to respond to you, and then hand you an item at your request, you need to wear a mask.

That wearing a mask is seen as somehow daunting or dehumanizing is bizarre to me. In many countries and cultures around the world, mask wearing has long been destigmatized, and is accepted as a common public courtesy. Conflating it with politics and civil liberties here in the United States is dangerous and stupid, and anyone who tells you otherwise does not have your best interests in mind. The idea of wearing a simple mask during a pandemic being turned into a political wedge issue strains credulity, boggles the mind, and saddens the soul.

It’s okay to go to a coffee shop again, which is great. I love coffee shops. But you have to wear a mask during the service interaction. Your barista will thank you, and your favorite coffee publication will thank you. If the person next to you in line is not wearing a mask, demand they do so, for the barista’s sake. It should not be on the barista to enforce these rules. Until the government mandates it, it’s on all of us as individuals. You need to wear a mask. I need to wear a mask. Let’s all wear a mask together. It is bizarre and astonishing, frankly, that this kind of op-ed would be so badly needed right now, but looking through the social media of our friends in the coffee community—the baristas, the managers, the owner-operators, their partners, everyone—and seeing firsthand how the cruelty and stupidity around them threatens their very safety, it’s just, it’s too much. It’s too fucking much.

So wear a mask, dammit. Wear a mask like our society depends on it. Because it just might.

Jordan Michelman (@suitcasewine) is a co-founder and editor at Sprudge Media Network and the winner of a 2020 James Beard Award for digital journalism. 

Top image © Adobe Stock/Angelina Chirkova.