No one hates going to Wal-Mart more than I do.

Nothing is worse than needing less than five items, but spending 30 minutes in line because there are only two registers open – and everyone else wants to use the “Scan and Go” option – even if they have more than 10 items.

The last time I had to go through this punishment was on Monday. This, of course, was the first day the company rolled out it’s mandatory mask policy to curb the rising spread of the novel coronavirus.

I knew about the change, and most people did, so I had my mask ready, as did most of the others. However, I had to listen to a few people complain about having to wear a mask – and why they should have to wear one, even though COVID-19 numbers have spiked once again to the point this country will likely have to shut down again.

I get it. You don’t want to wear a mask. You don’t like to wear a mask. I don’t either, but I do like living – and I don’t like getting sick with anything – but if a minor inconvenience means I don’t have to deal with the consequences of COVID-19 – it’s an inconvenience I can deal with.

In fact, I’m ordering a mask with my favorite NFL team, the New York Giants, on it. If I have to deal with wearing a mask, you best believe I’m going to look good doing it!

Then there are the people who believe being forced to wear a mask infringes on their liberties. If you don’t want to wear a mask, you don’t have to. However, businesses have the right not to serve you, or deny you entry altogether. You can’t have it both ways!

With coronavirus numbers spiking nationwide, and several states, including my home state of South Carolina and my adopted home state of Florida, listed as “COVID-19 hotspots,” one would think people would have the good sense to do everything they can to protect themselves and those around them, so their states won’t become Florida, South Carolina, Texas, Georgia and Arizona.

Heck to the no! Muh rights! Muh freedums! Once again, you have the right to wear a mask – or not wear one. 

However, when does freedom and liberty devolve into irresponsibility and selfishness? At what point will these people learn it’s not all about them, but those around them, including their families and friends, as well as the random people they meet?

Many of the people who have contracted COVID-19, as well as the nearly 150,000 who have lost their lives, was infected by someone who was asymptomatic. Not everyone with the coronavirus looks like they have it.

Insisting on your rights without acknowledging your responsibilities is neither freedom nor liberty.

It’s called adolescence.

Even worse are those who don’t wear masks because they deny COVID-19 altogether, or believe the infection and death rates are overblown products of the media use to terrify people into being controlled. 

The late U.S. Senator from New York, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, famously said, “you are entitled to your own opinions, but you are not entitled to your own facts.”

Sorry people, but I tend to trust doctors over politicians and religious leaders, scientists over television and radio pundits and known facts over YouTube conspiracy videos made by people who didn’t go to college at all – and barely passed their high school science classes.

I did well enough in my science classes to graduate high school and get accepted to the University of South Carolina, but that doesn’t make me an expert on infectious diseases by any stretch of the imagination.

I am not without understanding and sympathy, however. For some people, wearing a mask can trigger post-traumatic stress disorder. A very close friend of mine was violently sexually assaulted as a child, and putting on a mask takes her back to the horrible moment when a monster put his hand over her mouth and nose to muffle her screams as her childhood was being robbed from her in the worst possible way imaginable.

I would be a monster not to show empathy to her – and understand why she chooses not to wear a mask.

For everyone else, however, would it really hurt you to wear a mask for 15 or 20 minutes? My brothers and sisters serving their country in the military, as well as my brothers and sisters in the medical community are wearing masks for hours at a time.

If they can do it, then we must share this responsibility, if not for ourselves, for everyone around us.

Once again, do I like wearing a mask? Nope. Do I want to wear a mask? Absolutely not.

Will I wear one because I care about my health and the health of those around me? Believe it!

You do have a choice. I just hope you choose wisely, and just maybe, we can blunt the effects of this virus any further so we can seriously get back to some degree of normalcy.