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Aug. 7, 2020 | Friday
Editorials and Opinions
Letter: The new realities of shopping during COVID pandemic

Dear editor:

This was originally published in the Shaw Guild's newsletter.

In such a few short months, the world as I have known it for all of my life, has turned upside down. Having been born at the end of the Second World War, I have never experienced severe hardship, never encountered economic strife, never felt threatened by another human being.  Lots of luck involved, I think.

Now, I wander, somewhat detached from others around me, masked to keep these same others safe, and make my way to a lineup to be permitted into a store.  

As I look around me, there is no conversation, smiles if any are hidden behind various designs of masks, cautious movements are made to keep the prescribed six feet from those in front, checking from time to time to ensure the shopper behind is doing the same.  

A sense of unease and distrust has infiltrated this conga line. If our expressions could be determined, we the faceless would be seen frowning at anyone not similarly masked. We all inch our way forward until we are given both a disinfected cart and a nod to enter.

On the inside, shopper and cart wind through the aisles, following arrows, trying very hard not to touch anything until removing the item from the shelf.  Distances remain and occasional apologies for trespassing are extended when mistakes are made.

At the checkout, masked and shielded, cashiers do their job and carefully place your item in an area where you may bag it yourself or offer the plastic bags that not so long ago were shunned by most of us.

I exit the store. No pleasantries in passing, no conversation with others. Eyes forward, job done.

Once at my car, I am relieved to remove my mask but now am concerned – did I wipe the door handle, steering wheel, did I touch my face? I feel foolish and unreasonable.

But then, I look around me and watch the parade of masked people going to and fro. It all seems so unreal. I shake my head, drive away.  

What makes this OK? Doing the right thing, seeing family, golfing, social distancing with friends, looking forward to a rosy future where once again I will smile at passersby and comment on the weather. Such a Canadian conversation, one I miss.

How interesting it will be to read the historians’ versions on the Great Pandemic of 2020. And won’t we have stories to share with those small grandchildren that will begin with “remember when”?

Lorraine Horton