I’mma day-drinking. Sitting here with a G&T and tryin’ ta simmer down. It was a hard, hard day.

I went grocery shopping. During a pandemic. A pandemic that people seem to think is over.

Sooooo, this isn’t new. The world has been on pretty serious high-alert shutdown for months now. We are all learning and adapting to this bizarre world, some better than others, but there’s a part of this new dynamic that gets my adrenaline flowing more than I’d like to admit. It’s the evolving story of human interaction that is frustrating on many levels.

Most of my important people are behind borders and in countries that I can’t access. This has made me understand solitude on a whole different level. A plane ride used to be able to solve loneliness and my need for connection, now it is a conveyance of potential infection, judgement and anxiety. If you fly, your community will assume that you are insane and are tempting the fates. And you know what, ya kinda are. But there are situations were movement may have to happen for work, family emergencies, medical care, etc. This is still tempting the fates, but the need holds the lion’s share of reasoning behind the decision. I have a very important person overseas who is sick. I need to see her. These are last chance moments, never to be repeated. If someone dies, there are no do-overs.

All of our lives are being truncated by a global pandemic. Celebrations, once-in-a-lifetime moments, trips, graduations, funerals, weddings, birthdays; are all on hold, or slip by with nothing but a whisper. Let alone human contact – I am suffering as a hugger who can no longer touch people. This has made me vigilant. I want this virus trampled to the ground as fast as possible. This is why my frustration mounts every time I go out into public and see my community flouting the rules.

To be clear, I’m talking about flouting, not honest indiscretions. We have all ended up going the wrong way on an arrow or have got too close to someone we are excited to chat with. We forget rules because we are reprogramming ourselves. Businesses are helping to train us with big dots on the floor telling us to “stand here”, and stationing extra workers to give a little speech about keeping 6 ft away from each other. Most people are doing their best to follow protocols and will laugh at themselves as they turn their carts around and call out a cheery ‘sooooorry’ to fellow shoppers. But there is a group of folks that make it their business to flout the rules and seem quite proud to do it.

 I have been forced backwards out of aisles 4 times by shoppers who see the arrow, acknowledge the arrow, express that they don’t give a shit about the arrow and come head-on into my space. Today a woman who was backing me down the aisle expressed that she “just wanted to see if soup was on sale”, as if this statement had to power to put a bubble around her and therefore grant her immunity. As I attempted to leave this same aisle, a different woman again forced me backwards informing me that she just wanted to come down the aisle 10 steps, as if that gave her magical powers to face COVID head on. As I was attempting to get out of this aisle for the 3rd time, a woman tried to pass me on the left and came within a foot of me. I said, “whoa, you’re too close.” This caused her to stare at me in the checkout line with a serious look of murder, kill, die. In the next aisle, a parade of 5 people passed me, all within a foot of my cart, past 4 signs that said “You must maintain a 6 ft social distance”. In this same aisle a woman informed me that she was browsing and that I could pass, as if her permission has the power to kill COVID. Permission to pass can’t come from you. Not your rules. Not my rules. Public Health rules.

Simple solution to a complex problem

It is also important to note that despite being in a Provincial State of Emergency, with an influx of out-of-country and out-of-province travellers pouring in, with full acknowledgement that we are no where near any solutions to eradicate COVID — Public Health has ‘strongly advised’ wearing masks in stores. None of these people were wearing masks.

Coronavirus cases as of July 16, 2020 from Worldometer

I get it. Documented cases are low. We are super lucky. Like, stupidly lucky to live in Canada, and especially in a province that has less people in it than the city of Calgary. But the virus is still here. It didn’t ‘go away’. When new cases are found, people respond with, “Oh no, here we go again!” Again? There’s no ‘again’. There hasn’t been an end yet. We are in the middle of it all. And if the dumpster fire south of the 49th doesn’t prove that, I’m not sure what would. World cases are higher than ever and we haven’t even gone over the hump. Everyone has to do a little reading about the Spanish Flu of 1918 and see what happens when people think it’s over.

Perhaps I’m more aware because I work as an esthetician and have to practice infection control after every single client and pass inspections. I know how easy it is for one tiny piece of fungus to go between clients on the tip of a tool and create a year-long fungal issue. A tiny, microscopic bacteria can go up a crack in the foot and send someone to hospital with cellulitis. A virus can live on surfaces for days – hang in the air – latch onto your nostril – close down your lungs. Infection control is nothing to take lightly. I am extremely thankful for all the businesses that have been scrubbing ALL the things ALL the time. I have to say, I have not entered one store or restaurant, thus far, where I haven’t felt 100% confident. Nova Scotian businesses are rockin’ the protocols. And god luv ‘em – we are trying to survive the economic shit storm this pandemic has presented us. So, for sure, they, and I, are going to do what we can to gain the public’s confidence.

It’s not the businesses that are making me cray-cray.

After a 12-page rant in my journal to drill down to what was giving me heart palpitations, I think I figured it out. I’m not particularly scared of the virus. The virus is extremely manageable. Wear a mask, wash your hands, don’t stick your fingers up your nose. Easy. I’m upset because I’ve never been really cozy with narcissistic, aggressive folks. Looking me in the eye and forcing me backward out of an aisle is aggressive.  Giving me excuses as to why you get to flout the rules and do what you want is self-entitled and narcissistic. It is even more upsetting because the rules are so stinkin’ easy. There is seriously no hardship in wearing a mask or walking a certain direction around a store. But there are people who are offended by the mere suggestion that they should have to do a.n.y.t.h.i.n.g. for the greater good.

The equally confusing flipside to this coin is their insistence that I have done something wrong. I am in their way. They sigh and moan and growl…telling me that ‘these rules are ridiculous’…and boldly walk into my personal dance space with a ‘deal with it’ attitude. One of my facebook friends said it best the other day, “Stop shaming people for doing the right thing.” I’d add, stop bullying them into doing the wrong thing. A woman in another store barked at a fellow shopper, insisting she go around her. The shopper’s shoulders crawled up around her ears and she apologized for being alive and ran past her. She barked at me too. I said ‘no’.  

You can’t make me break the rules. I’ve been like this all my life. No matter how much someone barks at me, I will stand my ground and do the right thing. It is always easier to acquiesce and let someone trample you and your rights…but it doesn’t make for a very nice society to live in. One evening of watching the news certainly highlights what happens when narcissists are given the upper hand. We all have a right to call out rudeness and purposeful, inappropriate behaviour, especially in the middle of a pandemic. I would never think of forcing myself into someone’s 6ft radius. It boggles the mind that total strangers think they can come into mine.

These people are bullies. Plain and simple. Narcissism in its finest form. *barf*

ME ME ME ME MEEEEEE ME! *bleh*

There is a word for these people. This makes me sad because there must be enough of an issue to create a word to describe these people, but also oddly comforting because I know all of this is not in my head — enter the age of the COVIDIOT. What are the history books going to say about us in 100 years?

At some point I’m probably gonna snap and pin one of these Covidiots against the granola bars and yell “YOU’RE GOING THE WRONG WAY!” – but that would mean I had come within 6 ft of them – so it prolly won’t happen. *sigh*

Can we not just be better neighbours? Can we be gentler with each other? Can we call the bullies out on their bullshit? Cuz we are going to be doing this for a very long time. It is not over, it is far from over. But, the length of time we suffer shutdowns is really up to us and how we behave. I want to see my people again…we all have people to see and places to go. But none of us are going to see that freedom again until we shut down this friggin’ virus! There is an incredible opportunity for the best of humanity to shine in situations like this. Nova Scotia, and the Maritimes in general, can be a COVID green zone. That’s a challenge I’d hope we would all like to accept. ALL of our actions matter. Be better. Do better. It’s so damn easy. #endrant

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