‘I felt helpless:’ Woman shamed on social media for not wearing a mask at Trader Joe’s speaks out

It’s gone viral, a video of a woman having it out with customers at the North Hollywood Trader Joe’s on its opening day.

Why wasn’t she wearing a mask?

She claims she had made arrangements with the manager but that she ended up at the wrong store, adding that she prefers to do her own shopping, despite a medical condition that makes her breathing through a mask very difficult.

Those who posted the video counter by saying she shouldn’t be going in public if she has a medical condition. To that, she answers that she has her rights.

“I am a human being. I felt helpless,” she told FOX 11.

She lost it, admits the woman in the video. FOX 11 is concealing her identity because she’s terrified at the online reaction to the video. But she wanted to explain.

“I normally call every business before I go in because I have a medical breathing condition which means I can’t properly breathe through my nose and I let a manager know before I go in. I do the respectful thing and I let them know,” she said.

She says she thought she called the North Hollywood Trader Joe’s, but instead, she dialed the Toluca Lake location and spoke to a manager there by the name of Larry. She says he approved everything ahead of time, and told her no problem, and to come on in.

She arrived at the North Hollywood location, where they were checking masks before you go in, and she met with a manager.

The woman says the manager eventually said, “OK, go ahead and do your shopping just for today,” and she grabbed her shopping basket and entered.

And that’s when she says she ran into the first upset customer.

She says, “He started being aggressive, and vulgar and cussing me out.”

Around that time customer Durell Giles began recording with his phone.

More people got involved, things got heated, and then, Trader Joe’s staff surrounded her.

“They made it look like I am this crazy person, and yes, I did throw my basket to the ground,”  she said.

“This is not a smear campaign on her, I hate that this is happening to her, but she needs to see that you can not treat people like this,” said Dr. Moe Gelbart.

Gelbart tried to put this into perspective.

“I think with some people, there is this psychological Civil War going on, and the mask is the uniform of the day, so people wearing a mask are on one side of the fence, and people not wearing a mask on the other side is an opportunity to express your views and feelings,” Gelbart said. “All we’ve seen the last few months is division and hatred.”

Regardless of her medical issues, the woman has strong feelings about her political right to not wear a mask.

“I am a human being. I reacted based on feeling helpless in this situation,” the woman told FOX 11.

The manager at the Toluca Lake store was not in, but staff said off-camera they did get a call from her.

The experts call this Mask Shaming Politics, and it’s going to get worse as the numbers of people testing positive for COVID-19  increase, and Governor Gavin Newsom’s guidelines include wearing masks most of the time.

Some people may believe her or not, but California guidelines do include an exemption for people with medical conditions and suggest those people have things delivered, or carry a medical card, and make special arrangements when others are not in the store.

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