Who is that masked driver?
Well … for now, in most states, that masked driver is going to be YOU. As the states open up one by one, and you begin to drive a little more each day, you’ll start to get more business and life will slowly come back to normal (or as close as it can get). There will be some changes, for sure, and a big one is you wearing a mask while you have riders in the car.
Everybody has a different opinion about wearing masks. Some think it’s absolutely essential, some feel it’s unnecessary or not very effective, and others don’t want to be told they have to do it. The more cantankerous among us might even ask, Who’s making all these #%&^!@# rules?
Before you get mad at your rideshare company, know that they’re not at fault. The companies suggest you wear a mask while driving, to be sure. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing masks for anyone who’s out in public. But it’s your individual state that issues mandates like mask-wearing.
You’re considered to be an essential worker while you’re driving, and your state has issued regulations about what you (and all other essential workers) must do in order to stay safe, protect your customers, and keep getting paid. So again, in most cases you’re going to be wearing a mask.
Our Gridwise crew is always looking out for you—now more than ever as we deal with the COVID-19 crisis. Driving is becoming more economically viable than it was when the outbreak started, and we hope you’ll slowly, and safely, be able to get back to work. When you’re ready to start getting your driving job back in gear, we want you to be well-equipped, both in terms of information and tools.
What kind of mask do you need?
You’ll want to choose your mask based on your personal needs and preferences. If you’re especially worried about picking up the virus, or spreading it, you’ll probably want a professional N95 mask. These masks offer a very high level of protection, fit snugly, and (as the name implies) block about 95 percent of very small particles.
However, N95 masks should be saved for healthcare workers whenever possible and are very difficult to obtain right now.
If you simply want to meet the state’s requirements, such a sophisticated mask isn’t necessary. As long as you have your mouth and nose covered, either by a paper medical mask or a cloth one, you’re in good shape. You’ll also have a lot more options.
The fast track: 30+ places to buy a mask
Leave it to the people of America to take a crisis and transform it into an opportunity to market their creative ideas. There are masks almost everywhere you look these days, and when you don’t feel up to making one, and don’t have anything around that you can quickly turn into one, there’s nothing wrong with just buying one–or several.
You might be able to buy some medical masks at stores such as Home Depot and online at Amazon, as well as dozens of other outlets. However, these are difficult to find and should be saved for healthcare workers whenever possible.
Cotton masks are almost everywhere, and they vary in quality. They come in a wonderful array of other features too, such as color, shape, size, pattern, and price. This picture shows just one page of the selection we found on Etsy. Surely, somehow, some way, you’ll find one that works for you.
And that’s just the beginning! Here are, as we promised, 30 + places you can buy face masks NOW online. Notice the acts of ingenuity, support, and compassion among this spectacular list of mask-makers and sellers.
The Wake Up & Fight Mask from Hedley & Bennett lets you buy one, and give one away – really handy for those forgetful riders who come aboard without cover.
These brushed cotton masks from Nuage Designs have a pocket where you can, if you wish, insert a filter for extra protection.
The Fun Pack from LA Made Clothing is a five mask for one price deal. You can be safe and look cool all at the same time.
Chef’s supply company Tilit offers a sturdy mask made of hemp and other totally natural materials.
VIDA’s snug-fitting mask is great for those who wear glasses. A tight fit around the nose stops your glasses from fogging up.
Los Angeles Apparel has a version with an adjustable nose section, which will also help get you a snug, fog-free fit.
Then, at the higher end, we have the Sentry mask, which comes equipped with a copper band to completely contain the steam that can fog glasses and your all-important vision.
Those who are sensitive to elastic and other non-natural materials will be relieved to find this pure, 100% cotton version from Avocado Green Mattress.
Mask Club takes on the virus with the trend toward subscriptions. You can get a regularly scheduled delivery to diversify your collection and keep you with a fresh supply.
Precision can be everything, especially if you have to wear a mask all day long. TakeCare Supply has you covered on this front, with a mask made out of soft and sturdy quilter’s cotton.
If all this COVID stress has you wishing you had a “blankie,” this mask made by SwaddleDesigns is made from the perfect material – baby blanket cloth!
A stronger cloth will last longer, and Steele Canvas Basket Corp has a mask made out of high-quality stuff that won’t wear out any time soon.
Sanctuary Clothing offers masks that make you feel closer to nature. These cotton versions will fund donations that enable the manufacture of medical-quality masks for front-line workers.
Alice and Olivia are linking their mask sales to charitable donations as well. Buy their Staceface mask, and they’ll give one to a community in need.
Buck Mason has its One-For-One program, where you buy a pack of their masks, and they donate another.
You can benefit others when you buy masks from CaraaSports, too, You get a chance to help save lives by wearing the masks, made with sustainable materials, and by donating a pack when you make your purchase.
Dick’s Sporting Goods offers masks that can be used even after the virus gets out of our faces. You can arrange for a curb-side pickup at a Dick’s near you.
Some just have to wear their favorite prints, so The Sis Kiss has those animal prints and camo designs that allow both women and men to express their inner animals.
Abacaxi just can’t stop exuding cool, so they’ve sewn up some masks featuring amazing fabrics and patterns. Also, there’s an inner pocket where you can place a filter for extra protection.
Want to buy in bulk? Many people with large families (or infrequent laundry days) do. Custom Ink offers packs of 10, 100, and 120. Choose black or white, in a comfy jersey cotton.
These are times when many of us would like to soothe ourselves, and this satin mask by milliner Eugenia Kim could definitely do that. You’ll look pretty spiffy, too!
Christy Dawn sells pretty prints, and they’ve taken some of their extra cotton and sewn together some beautiful, soft masks. Buy some and they’ll donate some.
How cute is Smoko’s line of Kauai-printed face masks? They still cover your face, but won’t overwhelm it. You can be cute, trendy, and cooly protected when the temperatures start to rise.
L.A. Protects, isn’t a company – it’s a private-public sector effort between Reformation and the City of Los Angeles to produce masks en masse. You’ll be able to purchase from them as an individual too – so check them out and get the masks you need.
Alabama Chanin is on a mission to make as many high-quality masks as possible. There’s a bit of a backlog at the moment, but supplies will increase faster when your order goe toward greater production and distribution to those who need this essential equipment.
A 5-pack of reusable masks from Jack + Mulligan will help you stay safe and keep others safe. Plus, you’ll give this company a chance to donate a portion of the proceeds to the CDC Foundation’s Emergency Response Fund.
Zappo’s always has good deals, and they have a surprising variety of masks you can live with. This insulated one may come in handy when the weather changes.
Gearbest has got lots of deals as well. Some of their items are washable, some disposable. You can choose what’s best for you.
Bright and cheery masks from Scarborough Specialties can make the grim reality of protecting yourself from a deadly virus somewhat less scary. You can even have the printed with your personalized Logo!
And of course, Amazon has disposable and reusable masks galore. If you want to do some good work in the meantime, use the Amazon Smile side of the site to choose the charity of your choice and allow it to benefit from all your purchases.
What if…you don’t like the idea of being wrapped up with straps and ties? Maybe a soft and colorful neck gaiter would work better for you. The big name in this line is Buff. This picture will give you an idea of the look, and how it can be worn around the neck rather fashionably, and then abruptly brought into duty as a face covering within a few nanoseconds.
There are tons of colors and patterns, and several different weights and styles. It’s really just a piece of stretchy microfiber, so if you don’t want to lay down the cash for the real deal, you can probably sew one together, or persuade a talented friend equipped with a sewing machine to do it for you.
Where you can get a free mask
Rideshare and delivery companies have promised to send out masks, so if for some reason you can’t buy one, it might be possible to get one for free. Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash have stated to the press and on their websites that they plan to issue masks to drivers and passengers, in the case of rideshare. (As of this writing, it’s not easy to find out where to ask for them.)
Remember, though, that the companies are pretty overwhelmed, and the COVID-19 situation has really maxed-out their ability to deal with requests quickly and fully. If you want to start back to work right away, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to get you a mask as soon as you’d like.
Lucky for you, there are other good people out there who won’t leave you maskless. It’s really wonderful to see helpful organizations popping up in many cities and surrounding regions. These dear souls aren’t just thinking about the needs of essential workers, they’re doing something about those needs. Many of them offer masks for free. Check out the links below and see if you can find one that provides what you need.
How to make a mask you can make
The huge variety of options for buying and getting masks from organizations is fabulous – but sometimes, supplies run short. Also, there is an immediate need to cover your face if you’re driving, so you might need alternative means of procuring your face covering.
If you’re somewhat crafty, or even just capable of following simple instructions, there are many options for making your own masks. There are ways of creating disposable masks as well as cloth ones you can use again and again. (We probably don’t need to tell you this, but you’ll need to wash cloth masks between wearings.)
Joann Fabric stores offers several mask-making tutorials on its website, and you can find everything you need at their stores or online. If you decide to visit a store, check first to be sure it’s open, since some Joann Fabric stores have closed during the COVID-19 crisis.
If you’ve heard about the widespread mask shortages (who hasn’t?) and would like to help make masks for health-care workers, Joann offers free kits, with instructions.
People are getting very expressive with their masks, in case you haven’t already noticed. There are shark teeth, clown mouths, and the emblems of sports teams showing up in place of the smiling faces of the people who wear them. You can maybe use fabric you have in your home, or pick up something that helps you represent your alter-ego at your local fabric store.
The basic design involves two layers of fabric, sewn together, and two elastic bands that go around the ears to secure the mask. There are variations; many have pleats, which spread the cloth out so it isn’t right up against your nose and mouth. When you have to wear the mask for more than a few minutes, you’ll find out why that’s a really good idea. Breathing is easier when you have space to do it.
For those who are more tech-savvy than crafty, there are ways to make masks with 3-D printers. These brilliant folks can also craft full-blown face shields quickly and easily with their trusty high-end geek tools.
Let’s say you’re not crafty and don’t have access to a 3-D printer, or even a friend who’ll let you use one. Don’t get upset–there are still things you can do. Look around your home and see if you have anything that resembles a bandana, handkerchief, or scarf. If you can also find two rubber bands or hair ties, you’re in business! You don’t even have to sew, which is totally awesome. Check out this video and the pictures below, to see for yourself.
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A few folds, a couple of ties, and voila! You’ve made a face mask you just have to love.
This is really effective and simple, and as long as you can get used to it, having those bands around your ears maybe won’t be so bad. For some people, though, that time of getting used to it never comes. What to do then? You could tie the bandana around you, like a cowboy, cowgirl, or outlaw who’s just robbed a train. Or…
Keep looking around your home, in the drawers and even in and among the sports equipment. Yep! There are those outdoorsy-type things we wear, whether as a sweatband, a hairband, or a lightweight neck gaiter that you can use. Some are really cute and/or sleek, and you can pull them up and down at will. They don’t always stay on the way you might like, but once you get used to wearing one, you’ll find it to be a flexible and easy way to keep your nose and mouth covered.
Behind that mask: Keep smiling
The real purpose of wearing a mask is to keep any kind of fluid that might come from your nose and mouth from going into the air. It’s important to keep that in mind, and to also think about your passengers and what they might think when they see you wearing a mask.
They should think, “Gee, what a thoughtful driver—keeping me safe from COVID-19,” but not everyone sees things that way. Being unable to see your full face can make people feel uneasy, like maybe you really did just rob that train … or are about to.
Also, when the customer can’t see your smile, it’s hard to make the kind of connection that leads to a nice relationship and good tips. Here are some ways to work with the situation and remain in compliance with requirements set up by your state.
- Greet your riders before they enter the car. With the windows up, smile and wave, with your mask off, if possible.
- Put your mask on just before they get in the car.
- Keep conversing! It may not be comfortable to talk through a mask, but if the customer wants to talk, don’t let it stop you. Chances are most riders will be wearing masks too.
- Remember to continue offering hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes for surfaces in your car.
- Volunteer to open and close the trunk of your car if there are packages or luggage that need to be handled.
- Allow passengers to do the touching and lifting of their property. Even if you’re used to offering a helping hand, these days your friendly touch is not always welcome. If the rider asks for your help, use hand sanitizer before and after handling the items.
- Don’t let your mask stop you from bidding a fond farewell and saying “Thanks for riding with me!” when the trip ends. You want to be remembered as the kind of driver who’s worth those 5 stars and a tip, no matter how messed up the world might be at the moment.
Be safe and stay that way
No matter what kind of mask you choose to wear, we at Gridwise hope it will help you to stay virus-free, comfortable, confident, and happy. As always, we’re keeping on top of the rideshare and delivery world, and offering you updates as they come in. You’ll find lots more articles and info on the Perks tab. And don’t forget … You can still track your shifts and check out airport activity when you download the app!