I know these words aren’t going to change anything, but they have to come out.
I needed a few things from the store today, and because I had a bit of cabin fever (non-COVID-19 variety) I hopped in the car and drove to our small town of Uxbridge.
The first stop was at my favourite small green-grocer’s where business is usually brisk but never overwhelming. But today — holy no parking spaces, Batman! — it was crazy. Carts were FULL of fresh fruits and veg, and aisles so crowded there was hardly a way to get through. I grabbed my few items, and then, wondering if I was a bit nuts, headed over to Walmart.
Walmart looked like a tornado had touched down, sucking up products in some aisles while leaving others untouched. Milk was depleted, and peanut butter almost gone. The bread shelves were empty, as were the pasta and TP shelves. A man and his teenage son were parked in front of the remaining tins of soup, tossing them into the cart as though they were an essential food group. The tuna and salmon were well picked over, but I didn’t check the Flakes of Ham or Chicken so I can’t report on that. I was pleased to get the three things on my list, and then make like a banana and split.
To be honest, the experience shook me a bit. I’ve been going to work in the ER, coming home, and living my life — the whole time washing my hands diligently while trying to remember to keep them away from my face. But I’m not worried. Maybe that makes me dumb, but it sure is a relaxing way to live.
What ended up really upsetting me was the phone call that came in while I was still in the parking lot. It was Andrew. I don’t want to flog a dead horse, but for those who don’t know, Andrew has an intellectual disability and lives in a group home. He’s high functioning and volunteers at a thrift store several days a week. He helps “coach” a boys hockey team, and goes to a local church. He’s involved in much more, but those are the basics. Like me, he gets cabin fever easily.
Andrew said, “Mom, I decided I’m not goin’ anywhere today, and tomorrow, and the next day. And I’m not goin’ anywhere next week either. Me an’ the staff were at the grocery store today and I saw people wearing masks and that scares me.”
Listening to him, I heaved a sigh.
When the rest of the population is panicking, how do I explain to Andrew that Dr. Susy Hota, the Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control at the University Health Network in Toronto says, “We don’t really have any evidence to show that wearing a mask in public spaces is going to protect you.”
How do I explain that in spite of the fact that all of his pro sports teams are cancelled because of a mysterious illness, it’s 99.9% likely he’ll be fine?
How do I explain to a chronic non-hand-washer that the best thing he can do is wash, wash, wash?
We talked for quite awhile about the difference between doing our best and worrying, and I feel that calmed him. For now.
We also talked about getting what we need and leaving behind something for other people to buy. He may have a disability, but he’s not stupid. Masses of overflowing carts in the store today caught his attention too.
I guess I don’t really have a point to all of this, but it feels good to have said it. Let’s work together to flatten that curve, and while we do it, let’s be kind.