Emergency: A Call for a New Kind of Masking

I am renovating some rentals necessitating constant visits to Lowe’s and Home Depot. They should make me an honorary 1 percent owner for what I have spent there over the years.

I walked into Lowe’s and was alarmed to see my face on a screen with a neat square framing it and the sound of a camera shutter closing for cute sound effects. I was immediately outraged. How dare Lowe’s use face recognition on me without my permission. I didn’t say they could photograph me as if I might turn into a criminal any minute. Furthermore, who owns my image from now on? Not me. Who can they forward it to for financial gain?

I went up to the counter — there’s another camera photographing me making my returns. I asked the nice guy behind the counter when did this start? A month ago (I hadn’t noticed). I said “This is like China. Why are you doing this?”

“For safety.”

“That is what they say in China I’m sure.” Of course its avowed purpose is protecting the store from shoplifting but, come on, it is surveillance plain and simple. And it’s everywhere.

We live in a town of liberals who might be in favor of safety at all times so I thought, “Home Depot is a Southern company and maybe the CEO is more right wing and so he would resist this national trend.” Nope — they have one in Home Depot — not as wide a screen but still there.

At Home Depot when I spotted the screen I pulled my coat over my face but that isn’t going to work. You can’t see very well to walk. So I propose we all start carrying masks on a stick as if we are attending a Victorian costume party.

A scary mask might get you in trouble since everyone is scared enough these days. So then I thought “Why not an innocent one with long eyelashes and curls framing my face.” The goal is not to be banned from the store because if you don’t want to be photographed you just might be a 77 year old doddering old lady terrorist. Or you might be bucking the program and nobody wants rebellion.

BUT there are likely cameras all around the store — they want to know what you are buying as you peruse the shelves so that when you get home they can bombard your internet with ads for similar items. (This is a masked reason for constant surveillance — its “just” to sell stuff to you, not real surveillance. Come on — what’s the difference?) So now we have to wear hands-free masks so we can shop.


Bo suggested maybe a mask like the ones people wore in the plague? Wait — I have to resist the devilish part of me that wants to make a shockingly bold statement. That one would get you banned from the store.


How about the Guy Fawkes mask in the movie V for Vendetta? Uh-oh — that movie was about resistance in a totalitarian dictatorship where you risked your life if you protested so everyone had to wear the same mask. Nope, then they would know you were on to them. Banned from the store again.



Bo said he thought women would have a better time hiding than men. I thought, “That’s it! We could wear burkas!”

This is a liberal town into religious freedom, BUT liberal as we are here in Athens, we are not really diverse. A burka would stand out like a sore thumb, but at least it would not be grounds for dismissal from the store. As a “Muslim woman” I could sue them for discrimination.



Bo had another idea: you could buy huge sunglasses like a movie star and then wrap a colorful scarf around your face to cover the rest of you. THAT’S IT! All I would be is an eccentric old lady who has the delusion that she’s a movie star. I’m eccentric anyway so this is in character.

Okay ladies, now you know what to do as a non-threatening hidden protestor. I remain a child of the sixties — will you join me?

I don’t know what you men are going to do.