My wife and I took a walk this week with our 22-month-old granddaughter. We wore masks. Coming towards us on the sidewalk was a young man without one. We veered away but I was tempted to ask why he wasn’t covering his face out of consideration for the health and well-being of others. I said nothing.

How is it possible still that people don’t wear masks when infectious disease experts say that doing so is the most effective prophylactic against spreading and/or getting the virus?

This incident reminded me of a terrifying experience I had on the road thirty years ago. I’d turned from a side street onto a well-traveled LA canyon road about one hundred yards in front of an oncoming pick-up truck. I quickly got up to speed, but before I knew it the other driver passed me on the left, gave me the finger, turned into my lane, stopped, opened his door, got out, stood on the pavement, and glared at me while shouting expletives. I stopped my car with about 40 feet between us, locked my doors, refused to engage, prepared to swing around him if he approached me and get away as quickly as I could. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind that he wanted a fight. Seeing that I froze, as though confronting a bear in the wilds, he got back into his truck and sped on.

I saw recently on YouTube an ugly exchange between a maskless man and Black Lives Matters activists that challenged him to put on a face covering. While screaming he approached the group and coughed on them.

I ask, gentle reader, what would/do you do when encountering maskless people on the street, in markets, elevators, and other closed spaces? Certainly, it’s good to get far away from such people, but is it better to say nothing or to request compliance (nicely) that they abide by health officials’ standards and risk an uncivil or violent reaction?