Teen who can’t mask can’t work

I was with my toddler at an entirely outdoor water park in Orlando where customers were able to roam mask-free but employees all had to remain masked. I noticed that a teenage lifeguard in the toddler play area had his mask off, which was a relief to me because the employees all looked intimidating and unapproachable with them on. I felt this was particularly sad in front of the littlest children who needed to view the lifeguards as a source of help, not a threat. I walked up and asked him why he was able to remove his mask, and he appeared very nervous and started to reach for his mask. I assured him that I didn’t think he should have to wear one, and he seemed relieved. He told me in a very strained manner that sometimes he has a really hard time breathing in a mask because of health issues, and I told him that I have the same problem and think masking is ridiculous and that him having to wear one in a sunny, warm, spacious work environment was wrong. He still appeared nervous but appreciated the encouragement. Not much later, a manager approached him and spoke with him for awhile. A little after that, two staff members came and talked with him. The young man, who was a tall, strong, athletic teenager, looked on the verge of tears. They ended up having him leave work, at least for the day. I watched him walk dejectedly back to the staff locker area and prayed that he would not have to choose between sacrificing his mental/physical health or his income.

Orlando, Florida
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