Fredericton — A group of women calling themselves the “Shame Squad” are doing everything in their power to ensure strangers feel bad about their actions while the country fights COVID-19 — even as they themselves carry out many of the same actions.
“I’ve been training for this all my life!” said Donna White of Nashwaaksis, N.B. “I love making people feel guilty — or making myself feel as though they feel guilty, at least. With all the new rules we have to follow — wearing face masks, staying six feet apart — there are people breaking them left and right, and I’m pretty sure it’s up to me to stop them!”
White and a few of her neighbours, who were over for tea and planning meetings in in her living room multiple times during the orange phase, came up with ways to combat the spread of the virus by guilt-tripping people.
“I’m the best with computers and social media of all of us, so my whole job is to find rule-breakers online,” bragged Barbara Peters. “So what I do is I go on Facebook…and that’s it, really. I don’t know how to use ‘Instant Gram’ or ‘Tweeter’ but anyway, I look for comments or pictures or anything that indicate rule-breaking and I just comment relentlessly until they get angry and block me.
“For example, I think it was late March, I saw a distant, grainy photo in which a couple appeared to be wearing N95 masks…but it seemed to be a joke! Like it was a fun photoshoot!
“No, I didn’t see them break social distancing rules or anything like that, but they were wearing masks that they could have donated to front-line workers! I don’t know the full story about what happened or why they had the masks or were wearing them, but I think it’s safe to say it’s not okay and will directly cause the number of cases to increase in New Brunswick.
“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go out to grab a few things from Costco, Walmart, Superstore, Canadian Tire, Giant Tiger, Dollarama and Sobeys. I find you really need to shop around if you want the best deals!”
Another member of the squad, Kathy Ferris, says it’s her job to go out on the front-lines and do as much in-person shaming as she can.
“A rule people have really disregarded is the one saying only one family member should go out to do shopping. So I’ve been going out, sometimes by myself, sometimes with just Barb — who’s not related to me so it’s fine — and we’ll see couples or even entire families buying their groceries. I can’t just let that happen…I’ll go right up and speak moistly in their faces if I have to!”
Martha O’Donnell, another squad member, had an even more dramatic shaming story.
“I counted 11 people on a back deck when I was out for my walk right before the yellow phase began! Now, call me crazy, but was the rule not 10 or under?! I called the police right away, and stayed on the scene until they could come break up the party. But — you’ll never believe this — a couple of cops turned up who appeared to be friends with the violators, and they actually joined in, opened some beers, had burgers from the barbecue! I could hear them all laughing it up. Well, they won’t be laughing when they all succumb to COVID!
“Anyway, I crawled out of the bushes and ran over to tell them they’re all ruining things for the rest of us, but they told me I was trespassing on private property and that, regardless, they’re following proper sanitizing and physical distancing protocols. I was forced to spend the rest of the evening peering in the windows to make sure they were all washing their hands for 20 seconds any time they went inside.
“It’s a tough job, but as far as we know, someone’s gotta do it!”
Photo: woman by Justin Sullivan (Getty Images), BBQ by Roman Boed, edited by Alex Vietinghoff