Editor's note: This article was written by a Townsquare Media Northern New England contributor and may contain the individual's views, opinions, or personal experiences.

“I thought wearing a mask might be fun, but I was very claustrophobic, and hot, and sweaty.”

That’s how comedian Howie Mandel responded when asked how it was performing on The Masked Singer as a Rock Lobster, in our conversation which you can LISTEN TO HERE. For years, Mandel has been open about his obsessive-compulsive disorder and challenges with what some term “germaphobia.”

I am in no way dismissive of Mr. Mandel’s mental health struggles, but mainly because I think he’s right about the basic principle of being a bit safer when it comes to germs.

Of course, the pandemic only made things more complicated. Now, more than ever, we’re left wondering how we should greet each other. How physical do we get? How distant do we stay?

Especially in New England, where colds dog us year-round, we’ve all had that moment where we wonder if we insulted a friend or potential client by declining a handshake. Or if we took things too far going in for a fist-bump with someone who just wants space.

So, here’s a simple idea for workplaces in New England:

Traffic light symbol design flat style vector illustration, isolated on white.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

What if employees, people at a barbecue, people testing out the vibrating couches at Jordan’s without actually buying them – whatever – commit to wearing a tiny, little pin that’s either red, yellow, or green?


No touch, stay back. Not necessarily because they’re scared of your germs; maybe they have a young child who was sick and are doing you a favor.


Fist bump. Made famous by...Mr. Howie Mandel. Bring it in, give it a pound. Pretend you just hit one over the Monster.


In the words of a great Boston band, The Cars, “Shake it up!”

To hear my full interview with Howie Mandel, CLICK HERE TO LISTEN.

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