You heard it here first. Remember this day. Aug. 12, 2020.

It's the day I started wearing a red sticker on my mask as a symbol of doing it “under duress,” and started encouraging our listeners at New Jersey 101.5 to do so, too. And while it’s my own little grassroots “movement,” we could feel a groundswell. (Well, maybe not a groundSWELL, but perhaps a small ground-bulge?).

Yesterday, I was at the grocery store for the first time in a long time. I saw people walking around in masks whose facial expressions were obviously indiscernible. So I tried to find a “friend” — by a friend, I mean someone who has the same thoughts I do running around in his head, like "I can’t believe that we’re all actually doing this! This is silly! This mask isn’t doing anything but making me sweat!"

But you can’t tell believers from non-believers under that mask. I started thinking there had to be a way to distinguish between "those" people and "my" people.

The red sticker is the way to tell. It’s not an F-you. It’s not a sign of disrespect. It’s a way to follow “orders” but at the same time show that you’re not happy about it. It’s a "peaceful protest."

(And you know—  in this country we’re all about "peaceful protests!")

The red sticker is the solution. Wouldn’t it be nice to know who’s who? Who you have to be careful around and tiptoe around and who you don’t?

Now, mostly. I’m wearing a red sticker as a little bit of a protest — So that people can see me and, now that I’ve spoken about on the air, understand that a red sticker means I do not believe that what I’m doing is actually helpful, but I’m doing it anyway for those who believe it’s good for them. And also because the government is forcing me to. It makes me seem like a good citizen, even though my belief system would tell them that I’m not.

But the secondary benefit of this is that when I’m walking around in the store, I can identify like-minded people: people who can get near me to look closely at the spices, who can hold the door for me and not be worried that they’re standing too close to me, people I can steer my cart by and not worry that I’m getting too close for their comfort.

Basically, we can be a community of individuals who are showing each other that behind our masks, the only part of our faces that actually are visible (our eyes) are rolling from this whole thing.

Remember, after Donald Trump was elected president, people wore safety pins over their hearts to show that they were “heartbroken.” It allowed other people to know that they disagreed with the nation’s choice, and that acceptance of it was difficult for them. The Red Sticker is the same concept.

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I think that this is a respectful way to show your feelings. It says, yes, we’re following all protocols. Yes, we’re being respectful to our fellow human beings. But at the same time, we understand how spurious the mask orders are.

I’m not sure why it’s so important for me to want to display my feelings. Maybe it’s just because I can — because in this very messed up world that we’re living in, I still have the freedom to buy a red sticker and put it wherever the hell I want. And while our freedoms are slowly being eroded, bit by bit, I’ll take anything I can get.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco. Any opinions expressed are Judi's own.

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