Back to the office — sorta — with beard intact.

My employer is easing back into having folks coming into the office starting this week. We’ve had some people coming in during the entire work-at-home period because when you’re an engineer making brake and suspension systems for cars there’s just some stuff that can’t be done at home, but it’s been maybe a dozen or so folks. However, now there’s enough people showing up that the I.T. department feels some on-site presence by us is warranted. So, for the immediate future, I’m working from home on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and I’ll be in the office for at least a half-day on Tuesdays and Thursdays. My counterpart is in on Mondays and Wednesdays. If things are busy then I’ll stay the whole day, otherwise I head home at lunch and finish out the day remotely. This also gives me an opportunity to work on things that can’t be handled remotely as well such as the new laptop I’m staging for one of the groups this morning. They’ve armed me with Purell, Clorox disinfecting wipes for wiping down equipment that comes in, and rubber gloves so I should be good to go.

The one thing I wasn’t happy about with this is the fact that I’d probably have to shave my beard as the standard face masks don’t work well if you, like me, have a full beard. My mother-in-law made us a bunch of cloth face masks to use, but she had to use rubber hair bands for the ear loops because all the shops were sold out of elastic straps. The face masks are just small enough that the hair bands won’t stay on my ears. My ear folds over under the stress of the bands and off it comes. Additionally, they also wouldn’t work properly unless I shaved my beard.

My cubemate ended up coming to my rescue by not only finding a pattern for a face mask that includes a beard pouch to stuff my beard into, but someone to actually make one for me. Here it is in all its glory:

Les models a patriotic looking beard pouch face mask.
You patriotic looking bastard, you!

It’s going to take some practice before I can put it on quickly as I’m still figuring out how to stuff my beard into the pouch. It has some elastic around the top of the pouch to help hold it to my face and that’s a little itchy and I’m not quite able to get ALL of my beard behind it (as you can see) but this covers more than any of the other masks I’ve tried and fits pretty well. It even has a sleeve inside for putting in replaceable filters for some extra protection.

Interior detail of beard pouch face mask.
An inside view. You can see the insert sleeve in the pic above along with the elastic band around the pouch.

I don’t know the name of my beard savior, but I want to thank them all the same so I’ll make sure to pass it along via my cubemate. I’ll have to take this home every night and wash it, but that’s a small price to pay to keep my beard. If the whole coronavirus thing continues on for as long as some folks are thinking it will then I may have to hunt her down and pay her to make me four or five more. Maybe get some with patterns from Hawaiian shirts on them! Yeah!

3 thoughts on “Back to the office — sorta — with beard intact.

  1. Les!!! That mask is awesome! I taught myself to make masks but hadn’t come up with a solution for a full beard. Thanks for showing the inside, I can see how the pouch is sewn on the bottom of an Olsen-style curved mask. If you find out the name of the maker or point to a pattern, that’d be awesome.

    Elastic has been difficult and I got stuck with a large spool of good quality, but hard-on-the-ears stuff that I’m using up. But I now have soft elastic that I use for family and friends.

    My favorite style is paracord with a cord locker – one string, hangs around neck when not needed. The mask anchors under the jaw – so I’m thinking how that would work with a full beard.

    Drop me an email or follow up if you find out, I would be interested to know how that beard pouch works.

  2. Ginny, I believe she used this pattern that my cubemate had posted as a comment on my FB post about how I was going to have to shave my beard. It looks like she opted to use elastic instead of the cloth ties the pic shows, but otherwise I think it’s the same pattern.

  3. Try to use another string to tie the make behind your ears (there may be a lot of products on the market now) or use small rubber band to put a button on your glasses for the loops to go around. Nurses and other health staff have been doing that. I would also suggest getting one of those neck scarf masks as well.

    Hopefully by this time next year we will be in better shape. We are lucky, here. Hubs doesn’t have to go back to work and his employer is actually talking about moving most operations to work from home (it is a publishing company).

    Hang in there.

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