My boomer dad refuses to wear a mask


Dear Urban Diplomat,

I’m in the unenviable position of having to lecture my 60-something father on the perils of Covid-19—specifically, his perpetual violation of bubble rules. While I’m respectfully Zooming in my basement apartment, he’s going maskless to Starbucks and inviting throngs of friends over to watch football in his man cave. We’ve already staged a family intervention, but it clearly didn’t work. Is there a way to get through to him?

—Daddy Issue, Roncesvalles

Maybe your dad’s in a denial spiral about his own mortality. Maybe he just gets really sad being cooped up at home alone. Whatever the reason for his flagrant disregard of the public-health crisis, failing to address it could have dire consequences. Given that a family intervention failed to alter his reckless ways, you might just have to refuse to see him until he sanitizes his habits. If the prospect of not seeing his family doesn’t inspire change, then sadly I think there’s a bigger problem here.

Dear Urban Diplomat,

My husband and I recently went for an afternoon walk through the neighbourhood. As we strolled along the sidewalk, we noticed a jogger running toward us on the same side of the street. We figured he would move onto the road to avoid us, but instead, he sprinted right between my husband and me. Even worse, he made a “what the hell” gesture, as if we were in the wrong. Shouldn’t walkers get sidewalk priority during a pandemic? 

—A Walk to Remember, Rosedale

Since Covid-19 started, a sidewalk hierarchy has certainly emerged. Here are the new rules: if two groups of walkers come face-to-face with one another, the younger group should make an effort to get out of the way. Skateboarders, scooter users, rollerbladers and, yes, joggers should always cede the sidewalk to pedestrians. Sidewalks were literally made for walking (it’s in the name). That jogger was definitely in the wrong. If by some unfortunate coincidence you encounter him again, connect arms with your partner for an impromptu game of red rover. Then see if he dares to shoot the gap. 

Dear Urban Diplomat,

I recently started going to the gym again, trying to shed that quarantine 15. During my first 7 a.m. session, this weird guy wearing a tank top and fingerless gloves asked if I would go out with him. I politely declined and continued my exercises. But since then, every time I start my workout, that same guy always happens to be at a machine nearby. Sometimes he stares at me. What should I do?

—Fitness Freaked, Entertainment District

This is weird and gross, and sadly all too common for people who want to crush leg day without being leered at. Depending on your level of comfort, you could deploy the old “Can I help you?” line, which is decidedly more pointed than a polite “No thank you.” If he doesn’t get the hint—let’s assume he won’t—flag your concerns with the gym manager. Never let someone intimidate you out of a membership—especially if they have such terrible taste in athleisure.

Dear Urban Diplomat,

I’m a legal assistant at a downtown office, and a few people are starting to come back to work. The building has instituted some rules, including a limit of one person in each elevator at a time. But recently, one of my co-workers hopped into my elevator without a mask and started up a conversation. It was like being stuck in a potential Covid chamber. Normally, I’m no snitch, but this was a serious etiquette breach, and I’ve been debating telling my boss, HR or even the property manager. Any advice?

—Elevator Pinch, Ajax

Everyone, whether they admit it or not, has committed at least one Covid faux pas. If this is his or her first offence, I’d give the person a conditional pass. If they make a habit of flouting the law, that falls into workplace-hazard territory and merits reporting the perpetrator. Your company probably won’t fire the person, if that’s one of your concerns, but they should get a stern warning. Plus, if they’re that cavalier in the elevator, they’ll likely continue speaking moistly around the rest of the office.

Dear Urban Diplomat,

I recently returned from a weekend trip with three couples and my cousin. The Airbnb had three rooms with king-size beds, plus another room with bunks. When we checked in, the couples automatically took the bigger bedrooms, while my cousin (who is six-foot-five) and I got stuck with the bunk beds, even though everyone paid the same amount for the rental. I hid my anger for the entire trip. Do couples have a right to better rooms? 

—Totally Bunked, Little Portugal 

It sucks that you got shafted on the accommodations, but—and this might be an overstep—do you really want to sleep in a bed with your cousin? Your very tall cousin? It sounds like the bed divisions were an intuitive decision—the couples share a bed every night; you and your cousin (presumably) do not. If you all travel together regularly, stay mum until the next Airbnb excursion and make sure all the rooms are adult-sized.