This weekend I landed back in the US. As I entered the baggage claim hall in the immigration facility, the first two Customs and Border Protection officers that I saw were standing in close proximity to one another chatting, and not wearing masks.
This post isn’t about our individual feelings on wearing masks. Rather, Miami Airport requires all passengers, visitors, and employees, to wear facial coverings. Miami-Dade County also has a mask mandate. It’s probably also worth mentioning that at least 162 CBP officers in Florida have already tested positive for coronavirus.
I looked at the officers and shook my head – not only should they be following the rules, but shouldn’t they be setting an example for others?
At this point one of the officers started talking to me:
Officer: “You got a problem?”
Me: “Yeah, why aren’t you guys wearing masks?”
Officer: “Are you trying to help me, or what’s your problem?”
Me: “Everyone is supposed to be wearing masks, including you, and you know it.”
Officer: “Well you’re wearing a mask, so you’re protected.”
Me: “That’s not how masks work. That kind of logic is exactly why we’re the epicenter of this.”
Officer: “I’ll put one on just for you, happy?”
Me: “And the other guy?”
Officer: “He has a beard, it’s proven that masks don’t work if you have a beard. Why don’t you go on your way and mind your business.”
I… I… I… was at a loss for words.
Me: “This is completely ridiculous. Is there a supervisor I can talk to?”
At this point a guy happened to come walking out of the back room at the same time, at which point the officer said “hey, this guy wants to file a complaint against me for not wearing a mask,” and the guy smirked. It was claimed that there was no one above him in the facility, so we went on our way.
US CBP “pledges to treat you with courtesy, dignity, and respect”
When we arrived at our baggage claim belt in the immigration hall there were two other officers standing there (with masks), so I talked to them for a second:
Me: “Hey, is there any CBP supervisor in the terminal?”
Officer: “Is there something I can help with?”
Me: “Some of your colleagues are not wearing masks. When I pointed it out, they claimed that I’m protected because I’m wearing one, and also claimed one of the officers couldn’t wear a mask because he has a beard. You have a beard and seem to be wearing it just fine. I don’t know how you work with these people.”
Officer: “We… work with all kinds of people. I’m sorry about that.”
He was nice and explained that a more senior supervisor was only in the other immigration facility because they had limited staffing at the moment. He said he could try to get in contact with him for me, or suggested I file a complaint online with the CBP.