Money, Masks and MCS

Here is yet another way petro-chemical and wireless pollutants and policies create barriers to access, barriers that personal actions and responsibility alone cannot overcome…

Background: Michellina  wrote about her masked experiences on her blog The-Labyrynth, which inspired Colleen to write about her mask breakthrough on her blog Life in the City with a Future, which inspired me to share her link and post on the subject here, which then inspired Suki to chime in here adding her experiences, as well as a link to some really great resources from from The (US) National Center for Independent Living on environmental health barriers to access, which links back here to one of my  posts! And here’s an example of just how prevalent fragrance chemicals are.

And then… my friend Melody posted this photo, which brings up another issue:

How can we have access to our money when wearing disability related “accessories”?

What about the masks we wear to be able to breathe cleaner air?

What about the masks we wear  to breathe? Or the hats and scarves we wear to keep some of the fragrance chemicals off of our hair? Or the special fabric head-coverings to protect from wireless radiation? These are necessary “accessories” which prevent further disability, and allow some of us to lead somewhat more normal lives, kind of like what wheelchairs are for people who can’t walk.

Do they have these signs (and policies) everywhere now?

How do you manage?

I guess it’s a good thing I can do almost all my banking over the phone.

If I need cash (which is not that often), I get it from an outdoor bank machine, and quickly wrap it in a piece of tinfoil so I don’t have to open my cash tin in the car. Then at home (while outside, never inside) I transfer it to my tin.

Money is such stinky stuff, saturated with 1st, 2nd and 3rd hand fragrances (among other things) from people’s hand cremes, soaps and sanitizers, laundry products, and air “fresheners“… that I have to keep my cash in a tin because wallets get too saturated and then re-release all the chemicals, and then, I must allow and trust other people to take my money out of the tin and put change back in while I hold the tin open (so the chemicals now on their hands don’t contaminate the exterior of the box for me). I don’t touch money  unless I really have to, because the fragrance (and other) chemicals are so difficult to remove from my skin afterwards. When I do have to handle $, I do it outside, and try to use old plastic bags as gloves (which I then hang on a line outside to off-gas and re-use the next time), in order to prevent the residues from affecting me.

Back to banking

I don’t see myself ever going INTO a bank without wearing a mask (even if or when I do recover so much as to be able to mingle with the masses again).

When I was at the cabin, and did not have computer or phone access, and needed cash to pay for things, I tried using an indoor bank machine which was separated from the rest of the bank, but I ended up getting too sick too often from other people’s scent trails…

Next, I tried asking someone who was going into the bank to ask someone who worked for the bank to come outside (as I stood out there wearing my mask)  telling them I was not able to safely access their machine, and asked if they would cash a cheque for me and bring the $ outside (as a way to provide access). They agreed. But it was a small town, where they were nice that way. They also had a free-standing building that had a door to the sidewalk and windows through which it was also possible to wave and catch the attention of someone inside so they could come outside (and once they knew me, they weren’t afraid of me).

That would not be possible with my own bank, which is on the 3rd floor of a building.

How do you manage?


Need Protection?

Accessible Customer Service in Ontario

Human Rights and MCS

NCIL Environmental Health Barriers Toolkit

17 responses to “Money, Masks and MCS

  1. My husband does most of our banking. If I need something I can do banking by phone or go to the drive-through. I have, however, had to go into the bank to sign papers when we were adding our daughter to something. I just walked in with my mask and no one questioned me. Maybe they recognized my husband from all the trips to the bank or maybe I have just been lucky. I do avoid the bank as much as possible because of the extreme fragrances.

    • I’m glad you have options, and that your family is known at the bank.

      I’ve seen a trend of closing a lot of the community bank branches, AND witnessed a high turnover in staff at another bank branch I used to have an account at. I would have had a problem each time I went there.

      I’m still dreaming of a world where the air is safe enough to breathe everywhere without anyone having to wear a mask, but until then… we need to make sure everyone has access to the basic essentials of life

  2. Reblogged this on allergictolifemybattle and commented:
    This is just one more thing to think about when having to go to the bank or anywhere that a mask puts into the suspicious character category.

  3. I use the drive through window and I go when it’s not busy so I don’t have to wait behind an idling car. Once I ended up behind a guy in a car and he was smoking. So which is worse – getting fumigated by the smoker in the idling car in front of me or the perfume inside?

    • Decisions, decisions…

      I hold back several car lengths if there’s anyone in front of me. The local branch has a single lane so no-one can pass. AND I shut my car off when waiting and when using the machine.

      Does your drive-thru have access to a teller? Or just a machine?

      • An actual teller so I can handle most everything through the drive-thru.
        Sometimes that canister sure smells of perfume – makes me glad I didn’t walk in the bank.

        • Glad you have that option!
          I’ve never seen an actual teller at a drive-through in Ontario (but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist).
          I wonder if it’s a US phenomenom or if they do have them in Canada?
          Some urban areas here don’t even have drive through bank machines! And it can be difficult finding a machine that is open air and not enclosed (which also encloses all the fragrance, cleaning and other chemicals).

  4. Now, I send my daughter in. But I’ve done the thing where I wave to the teller; I’ve also, once I know the bank people, lined up while wearing my mask while getting frightened looks from customers. I always tried to dress respectful and tidy, and had my trusty doctor’s letter at the ready for security. I’m way too sensitive to fragrance now, and getting my hair and belongings clean is too much of a hassle.

    But I do have to go into a new bank (a National Australia Bank) NAB)) because I have to organise online banking for that account, lost my pin and can’t remember my information I gave at the time of opening the account to set anything up so I don’t have to go in. It’s too hard; and I keep putting it off. They gave me a hard time on the phone, which is good they take customer account security seriously, but I’m soooo reluctant to go there because there has been news in the papers and on FB that they are installing their own signature fragrance emitting devices (FEDs). Well, because this is actual discrimination under the Australian Human Rights act, I’m kinda looking forward to getting my dilemma sorted out. I asked them to ring my NAB local branch and find out if these devices are installed because, if they are, then they need to come out and help me. The guy I spoke to said he’d never heard of such devices being installed in any NAB bank. So before i go in, i’m going to ring head office and make sure/ (And forewarn them that I’m going to have a mask on.) Here is the FB link about a group trying to stop it (maybe it worked? I bloody hope so!!!):

    Here’s the info on it if anyone’s interested:
    ‘“Our new stores show our invigorated thinking around banking delivery, allowing us to compete with other retailers – not just other banks – for our customer’s time. The focus on retailing and the customer experience will be evident with things like free Wifi, fun and interesting digital signage content, a community zone, kids zone, user friendly product and service information, great music, and even am unique NAB ‘scent’.”

    Anyway, two weeks ago, I went into a new branch of the bank I use regularly, Bendigo Bank. Because we have moved house, and it’s in a new area, I rang first to explain my situation and say I was coming. Perhaps, they thought it was some silly plan for a hoist because they looked mighty relieved when I walked in: it was like. ‘Oh, it’s you!” And they had not met me before. It’s a smallish town, around 2000 people, so, yes, you are right about them being kinder and easier to deal with. I do find that, generally, tellers where a lot of fragrance though. They told me they will come out for me next time. I just need to knock on the glass.

    As far as FEDs go, we can literally vote with our dollars and choose banks that don’t install signature scents!

    • I hope you can get your banking stuff sorted out safely and quickly!

      As if more chemicals pumped into a bank is going to make anything better… Sheesh!
      Enough of those toxic FEDs already! They need to be outlawed!

      And yes, we can choose banks or credit unions that provide safe access to services, when we can find them.

      Interestingly enough, one of the US pharmacy chains said they will stop selling cigarettes soon “to help people on their path to better health”! (Cigarettes which are triple wrapped and don’t pollute unless lit, instead of wafting toxic chemicals right through their packaging while sitting on shelves everywhere). If they are really concerned about people’s health, then toxic fragrance pollutants should be off their store shelves next!

      Pharmacies are another huge problem for people with MCS/ES and breathing related disabilities, as their air is so polluted with fragrance chemicals as to saturate everything in their stores (including medicines), but that’s probably fodder for another post…

  5. I guess I’m lucky to live in a small, rural town in Vermont. When I make deposits at the bank, I put on my mask before I enter because the “fragrance” is in the door/ATM area. Always. I’m usually wearing sunglasses because of chronic migraines. The combination leaves only my forehead exposed (unless it’s winter and I’m wearing a ski hat), in which case, I’m pretty well covered. The first time a teller laughed at me, I calmly explained how offended I was that I had to wear protective gear JUST to do business with their bank. Since then, I’m treated respectfully.

  6. I do most of my banking on line. If I have to have cash I go on a day when I know there won’t be many people — I go through the drive thru if no one else is there and turn off my car. I had to go in to open and account once I explained the mask and they were okay with it. As I wrote in one of my blogs the only issue I had was when I was in the bank and a customer in the drive thru seemed worried that I was trying to rob the bank. I’m from a relatively small town so things are a little more laid back. :D

    • Small towns and drive-throughs with actual tellers seem to be our safest options, where they exist.

      “Scaring” other people when we have to wear a mask is a regrettable outcome of a series of bad public policies I think…

      I wonder what the banking solutions are for urban, suburban and car-less people, especially if you have to move or transfer your banking for some reason?

      I’m fortunate that I’ve been at my credit union for years, and haven’t needed to sign any documents for years, or change banks when I moved, because I don’t think I’d be able to get a new account here.

  7. The sraff at the bank I use know me from before I needed to use my mask so at least I only get “poor thing” looks from them when I need to enter the bank with my breathing mask on. When I started to have “problems” breathing but didn’t even know what MCS was I would wait outside and send my husband in the bank (that was a really scarey time). Sometimes when I come into the bank, the people waiting to be attended get very nervous when they see a “masked person” enter the bank!
    At times I feel like wearing a T-shirt that says “Don’t worry I’m not a theif or contagious, I’m wearing this mask to protect me from harmfull toxic chemicals because I have EI/MCS” :)
    When I was in Vancouver and had to present myself at a governmental disabilities office I was going to take my mask off as it was my turn and the lady on the other side of the glass separator got very frightened, stepped back and asked me if I was “contagious”! I explained that I was not contagious but that I suffer MCS. On the next visit when I arrived with my daughter (and my mask on) my daughter immediately pointed out that there was now a “fragrance free” poster up on the wall for all to see! :) I was so happy and gratefull to be acknowledged and to feel accepted and that my disability had caused this “change in policy” :) It was completely the opposite from what I had experienced up to then in Spain! I found that generally people were much more compassionate and understanding in Vancouver than what I had encountered here in Spain. I really miss that type of a community, not like that here sadly :(
    Apart from self-protection wearing our masks helps to bring AWARENESS to others and can even “change policies” and make work places safer for everyone! :) We can only try our best to ignore the inconsiderate actions of the “ignorant” ones and keep wearing our masks to protect ourselves and be proud to spread AWARENESS of EI/MCS :)
    When I have to go to the hospital here the cleaning staff literally follow me and clean under my feet while I’m waiting then they leave the bucket full of bleach and whatever other cleaning prods they have on their trolley in front of the doctors door so that when I leave I almost fall into it! :( so I understand the feeling of being purposefully attacked because you wear a mask too! The specialists in Internal medicine told me “it’s all in my head” and tell me I don’t need to wear a mask in their office as it’s “perfectly clean”!
    :( They claim not to know anything about EI, MCS or heavy metal poisoning and refuse to do any testing either! :( but everything is so corrupt here that it’s not suprising! They repart disability diagnoses, pensions etc. to whom they please rather than recognise who is really suffering EI or Toxic Injury and this has become a business here, where corrupt doctors, etc. use public funding in their own benefit! They need no biological markers or tests to diagnose FM or CFS (which are not as disabling as MCS in my opinion, I have all three) so the corrupt system offers them a good business of “trafficing of influences”, “favour trading”, etc. and the “right wing” capitalists steal the taxes of the working class (while they avoid paying taxes!) :( leaving us with literally “no social services or protection” :( as they illegally and immorally make sure these are designated to “family, friends or as favours” in their own benefit :( The Political and Administrative (workers?) employees are all “in it for the take” , there is so much corruption that most of the voters abstain from voting as they have no faith or trust in their “representatives” :(
    Sorry I’ve wandered from the subject :( Not controlling my thoughts, need a break :)

    • It’s hard not to look for causes and effects when we develop MCS/ES and encounter attitudes and barriers that make no human sense… Sadly it comes down to some people valuing money (a human construct) more than life (and the ability to live) itself.

      I don’t know what it will take for more people to realize that they too are expendable under the current system… but since more and more people have been thrown under the bus (which is now bigger than a big tsunami) we are seeing more people wake up and speak up and start taking action in whatever way is possible… And, every little bit helps…

      All of our lives are at stake this time…

      When we start valuing life more than money, it’s possible to see what’s wrong and what we need to do to change the trajectory we are on.

  8. Pingback: When We HAVE to Wear A Mask to Breathe and Function | Seriously "Sensitive" to Pollution

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