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Calvin Munerlyn was a security guard at Family Dollar in Flint, Michigan on May 1. During his shift, he refused service to a woman who became enraged after Munerlyn told her daughter she needed to shop wearing a mask. Just a few days before, a statewide directive requiring facial coverings in enclosed public venues had gone into effect.

The mother and daughter left, but the woman's husband and son arrived around 20 minutes later and entered the store. Following a brief altercation, the son is accused of shooting Munerlyn in the back of the head. The 43-year-old father of nine died the same day at a local hospital.

A Trader Joe's employee in New York City was sent to the hospital in July after being "[struck]... over the head with a wooden paddle" by one of two males who were forced to leave for refusing to wear masks.

In May, a similar incident occurred at a Target in California, when one of two male customers “turned and attacked a store employee” as they were being led out. During the ensuing altercation, a Target employee's arm was broken, and the defendants were later jailed for felony violence. (Although Target didn't establish a company-wide mask policy until mid-July, Los Angeles was under an emergency order at the time that forced people to cover their faces in areas like supermarkets.)

A majority of Americans support a national mask mandate, according to several polls, and throughout the summer, a slew of retailers and restaurants enacted their own mask policies. Despite the fact that their positions were deemed "vital" during the pandemic, the personnel assigned to enforce those restrictions — frequently entry-level staff who are paid poor wages — are increasingly subjected to verbal abuse and violence from the same individuals they're trying to protect.

At the very least, people are being assigned to do a job with insufficient training and support from their employers, rendering those so-called mandates largely meaningless platitudes – and, in most circumstances, impossible to carry out properly.

Ask Christopher Vanderpool, a former "health ambassador" for walmart wire, the nation's largest private business. Vanderpool did not receive “special training to help make the procedure as easy as possible for customers,” as indicated in Walmart's announcement of the mask requirement.

“The management just told me to ask a customer to put on a mask, and if they didn't have one or didn't want to wear one, let them in without one,” Vanderpool told Vox. Despite Walmart's promise to train health ambassadors to "work with customers who show up at a store without a face covering to try and find a solution," Bloomberg reported in July that a two-minute Walmart training video specifies that associates "should simply allow the maskless customer inside and alert a member of management to determine the next steps, which are not detailed."

Vanderpool was never shown the footage, and he told Vox that after allowing an unmasked person into the business, he saw no further enforcement. Furthermore, his attempts to enforce the rule were extremely difficult.

“It was outside the store where I received the most threats and encountered the most enraged customers, who would hurl expletives at me as I tried to do my duty to safeguard public health,” he claimed.

The example of Vanderpool exemplifies the disconnect between what firms say publicly and what they do quietly. Other retailers, such as CVS, Walgreens, and Lowe's, have admitted to not enforcing their own policies due to safety concerns.

In July, Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union, told CNN that if companies "are not asking customers to wear a mask within their store, then they never had a necessity." “All they had was a public relations stunt,” says the narrator.

In his own words, Vanderpool describes what it was like to be on the front lines of the mask issue, and why he's standing up to help other workers who are still there.

The length and clarity of this interview have been altered.