I visited my dentist for a cleaning, a mundane and slightly dreaded experience made all the more off putting by COVID. The hygienist welcomed me with a temperature gun to the forehead, a dousing of hand sanitizer, and a list of blanks to initial on a clipboard form. All acts were necessary for both our safety. And any one who might follow in our wake.

After the appointment ended, I returned to the reception area where four clerical staff sat in a row staring into the glow of individual computer screens behind a plexiglass wall. A voice asked, “Can I help you?” It was impossible to discern who’d spoken. No one had looked up from their screen. And their masks hid my cue–the speaker’s smile of engagement.

Continue reading “Missing Pre-COVID Smiles”