Weird times. How often have you heard people say that lately?
I know it’s been a while (understatement) since I posted here, but something about the weird time we’re in has left me with plenty of time on my (frequently washed) hands. I go out for walks to get groceries and other supplies, or just to walk, otherwise I’m stuck at home, like most everyone else. It’s very quiet in the city.
There are more and more people wearing masks each time I go out for groceries. And people are getting way better at practicing physical distancing (a rename from social distancing). Social contact is so essential. Going for a walk with a friend, even from six feet away, helps a great deal. And among essential services: the internet. Going through this without it would be shattering.
I’m glad I don’t have to explain this virus business to any children. That job has fallen to my daughters. All I’m required to do is keep my distance, and wash my hands a lot. Randy Rainbow says it well. (I think comedy is also an essential service.) It’s ironic, being called to step up by, basically, doing nothing. Makes for a silly quotient to a very serious problem.
On one of my walks with a friend, properly distanced of course, we picked up lattes from a local shop in Kits. (Viva.) They are doing a great job managing the steady stream of coffee-starved people cut off from their usual routines, and they have good snacks. Walking away, a woman asked, her tone amazed, “Where did you get the coffees?” Ah, yes, in the olden times this was coffee city. We pointed her in the right direction.
It’s a bit disconcerting at first, if you are walking alone, to see people giving you a wide berth. As though you might have the plague or something. But then that’s the point I guess, that you might have the plague. (Doesn’t that still feel unreal?)
Walking near anyone, I feel both unease, and vaguely silly with the new normal, stepping off the curb to give people space (I do look for cars first). Zigzagging sides of the street. It’s disturbing, to put it mildly, how insidious the virus is; we’re constantly watching for something we can’t see, and yoicks! it might ride in on people we know.
There are a phenomenal number of people working to sort this out. I’m of course a very big fan of Dr. Bonnie Henry, BC’s medical voice-of-reason—who in BC isn’t a fan? So glad we have so many of them, voices of reason, in this country.
But it’s also ‘ordinary’ people putting themselves out in front of this virus; the usually unsung of our world turn out to be essential. Who knew? A human barricade of medical and emergency workers, but also bus and truck drivers and store clerks. Cleaners and garbage collectors. Restaurant staff. Grocery stores.
Ironic, as many of the unsung-but-essential people are also the lowest paid (if paid at all). All the support services running in the background include volunteers of all sorts.
It’ll be nice if this new understanding of who is really essential in our society carries over to the return of something resembling normal life, and we stop underpaying and undervaluing people who do necessary work. It’d be a good kind of new normal.
People are getting it though. The evolving new normal includes gratitude. And that’s something to celebrate.
I live in a very quiet neighbourhood, but at 7 pm every night, there’s a racket outside. A small racket compared to some parts of the city, but still. Usually the only noise around here is construction noise (this is Vancouver, after all). Or rain. I used to hear airplanes. But now the neighbours are getting rowdy (well, a few of them, like I said, quiet neighbourhood) and banging on pots to celebrate the people who are on the front lines with the virus.
There are a couple of small children I see, allowed out to bang on pots. Nothing makes any sense. The littlest one may not understand when this stops, and he’s no longer able to bang away. Soon, one hopes, but it’s not looking likely, until there’s some kind of treatment and/or a vaccine.
Ah, yes, another essential service: science.