IT SEEMS only a matter of time before the wearing of masks when out in public becomes the new normal - even here in Wagga.
At least, that is, until a COVID-19 vaccine is created and deployed around the world.
Prior to the pandemic, it was extremely rare to see people wearing masks in Australia.
Sure, you'd see the occasional person with one on when riding public transport in Sydney or Melbourne, but they were the exception.
Like with most exceptions in life, these people were treated with suspicion.
Mask-wearers were seen as having something - a cold, flu or some nasty disease - they were trying to avoid spreading.
Therefore, it made a certain amount of sense that upon seeing someone wearing a mask to avoid them at all costs.
Never mind that in doing so you were probably taking a seat on that train or tram next to someone with no qualms about coughing or sneezing all over you.
Wearing a mask was also seen as selfish.
I have been in the company of people who have muttered under their breath that mask-wearers must think they are "too good" to breathe the same air as the rest of us.
I was on a flight from Sydney to Melbourne several years ago when a man kicked up a hell of a stink about being seated next to a young lady of Asian appearance who was wearing a mask.
His argument was that she was clearly sick and should be removed from the plane lest she infect everyone.
No matter how many times she patiently explained to him (in perfect Australian-accented English, much to the man's surprise and, I suspect, disappointment) the mask was merely a precaution to avoid catching anything while sitting in close proximity to 200 strangers for the duration of a 90-minute flight, he was having none of it.
Eventually, once the plane was in the air and the seatbelt sign was turned off, he was moved to a vacant seat elsewhere in the plane.
This pandemic is forcing us all out of our comfort zones. It is challenging our prejudices and preferences and making us break habits developed over a lifetime.
The next time I go to Woolworths I will be wearing a mask.
It won't be because I think I have coronavirus, or that I think I'll catch it there, but because it will be my way of helping make this very strange world we're living in just that little bit safer.
So if I bump into you, don't be alarmed - it'll probably just be because my glasses are foggy.
All the best for the week ahead,
Ross Tyson, editor