Phone Transcript Between A CDC Operator And A Catcaller

OPERATOR: Hello, this is Amelia with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. How can I help you today?

CALLER: Yeah, hi. I don’t want to wear my mask.

OPERATOR: Sir…this hotline is really meant to answer questions about safety and such.

CALLER: Well, I do have a question.

OPERATOR: Okay. What’s your question?

CALLER: Why do you think you can tell me what to do? 

OPERATOR: I meant more like questions about how to be safe, how to do your part to slow down the spread of COVID, things like that.

CALLER: Ok, how do I do that?

OPERATOR: Well things like washing your hands frequently, wearing your mask when out in public, especially in situations where social distancing isn’t really an option, are incredibly helpful.

CALLER: I wash my hands at least once a day but I don’t WANT to wear my mask when I’m out in public.

OPERATOR: And why is that?

CALLER: The thing is, I’m an American man.

OPERATOR: Of course.

CALLER: And I don’t think my liberties should be infringed upon like this.

OPERATOR: Naturally.

CALLER: My favorite movies are A Few Good Men and My Cousin Vinny, so I know a bit about the law.

OPERATOR: Yes…that tracks. 

CALLER: Legally, you can’t make me wear anything I don’t want to. And ultimately, if I wear a mask then it makes it harder for me to catcall pretty women.

OPERATOR: I’m sorry, I just want to make sure I’m following what you’re saying here. You’re saying you don’t want to wear your mask because you…can’t yell at women on the street?

CALLER: I wouldn’t say that I yell at them. I’d say I loudly compliment them. 

OPERATOR: Is this something you feel you “need” to do?


OPERATOR: But…why?

CALLER: Because if I can’t compliment a beautiful girl then what’s the point of having a mouth? 

OPERATOR: Well, mouths serve a lot of purposes. Complimenting random women on the street is probably the least important thing they can do.

CALLER: You’re right. The most important thing they can do is kiss a pretty woman.

OPERATOR: Did it ever occur to you that some women, maybe most, don’t want to be catcalled?

CALLER: Yes, but it’s not about them. It’s about me. It’s about my right to voice my opinion when I feel like it.

OPERATOR: Can’t you just voice your opinion in your head? I think they’re called thoughts.

CALLER: It’s not really an opinion if other people don’t know you have one. Like if a tree falls in the forest and no one’s around to hear it, did it really make a sound? If I have a thought and I don’t voice it, did I really think today?

OPERATOR: Ok, fine. What about the fact that catcalling makes women uncomfortable?

CALLER: You’re just one woman, Amelia. You can’t speak for every woman everywhere.

OPERATOR: Chaka Khan says I can. 

CALLER: I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that. 

OPERATOR: What about the fact that we’re currently experiencing a pandemic that has many people, women specifically, anxious and frightened? Do you think that given all of that, now is the appropriate time to hit on women?

CALLER: If I stop living my life, Amelia, then the disease wins. 

OPERATOR: Okay, I think I’m gonna stop you right there. This phone call is taking up a lot of my time and I don’t think we’re making any progress. I don’t care what you do.

CALLER: So you agree then? 

OPERATOR: Agree with what?

CALLER: You agree I shouldn’t have to wear my mask.

OPERATOR: No, of course not! I just meant that it seems like we’re talking in circles and I think my time would be better spent talking to people who have actual questions and concerns about COVID.

CALLER: I do have actual concerns!

OPERATOR: Great! What are your actual concerns?

CALLER: Can COVID be spread sexually?

OPERATOR: Not necessarily. Saliva or mucus can contain strains of the virus, so it’s still possible to- 

CALLER: So, I can still have sex with my girlfriend?


CALLER: Please don’t shout…hello…hello…helllllllloooooo?

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