For many, mask-wearing is a brief experience while running errands. But how does it feel to wear a mask for hours — and to be one of the only people covered up in the middle of a crowd of nearly a thousand people?
James Reyome found out last weekend.
He lives in rural Lyles in Hickman County, west of Nashville. But he’s also the announcer at the Veterans Motorplex racetrack in Ridgetop, north of the city, which had its first event since the pandemic upturned life.
He’s the latest to share with WPLN News in his own words. You can hear his insights above.
Reyome says he’s diligent about wearing his mask at the grocery store, where about a quarter of people are doing the same. He notes employees are consistently masked.
But headed into last Saturday, he worried he’d be in the minority.
“I knew I was going to get a little bit of blowback,” he says.
Once on site, though, he admits he dropped his guard while reuniting with close colleagues he hadn’t seen since March.
“The racetrack is a family. So the moment that I pulled in … hugs and kisses were exchanged,” Reyome says. “Although I did do my utmost to stay away from people, it’s kind of hard to remove yourself.”
And to his surprise, no one questioned his mask wearing. But his next realization divided his emotions: The crowd was enormous, as though race fans had been pent up for too long.
“The thing that really surprised me — and I have to confess, thrilled me — was the size of our crowd,” he says. “What did not please me … amongst the 1,000 or 2,000 or however many people were there, I saw maybe four masks, and one of them was on my own face.”
Reyome largely spent the next seven hours working alone from the press box. At his wife’s request, he showered as soon as he got home.
“I’m perfectly aware that wearing a cloth mask is not going to protect me from the people that I see,” he says. “But should I be carrying anything, I certainly don’t want to be spreading it to anyone.”