So, I was at out the other day doing a supply run. I have a section of the city which has a Walmart, a grocery store, a pet store, a drug store, and a gas station with a coffee drive thru. Boom! It’s been very convenient given the times and has become my one stop shop for getting everything we need in the same general area. It limits my having to go all over the city and potentially exposing myself to even more concentrations of people. Being around people is one element to going out nowadays, the other is the way we shop. Things sure look a whole lot different than most of us have been accustomed to. I’m assuming things are different for you as well. I guess you’ve seen a dramatic change too when it comes to staying safe and staying stocked up. Though, I will say that I actually love some of new measures put in place. Essential businesses have done a great job evolving, and I hope they will think about keeping some of those new changes around for the future. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with making the shopping experience safer for customers, only how do we keep the same shopping experience safe from other customers?
The world has become germaphobic and that’s a very good thing. I mean, sure, there’s extra diligence being placed on what we bring into our homes lately, it’s super necessary. We need to take these extra safeguards to help protect ourselves from an invisible threat. Dealing with this invisible threat from an at-home perspective has created a lot of “news” in our lives. All for the better in my opinion. It’s even reminded me of some of the things that I took for granted in my life. I’ve become more aware, paying more attention to the smaller things, and becoming more mindful. The things I’ve adapted to since this all happened will stay in place long after all of this is over. I bet you’d say the same. We can take positives from this.
Alright, to the point of the post. Have any of you up to this point had what I have deemed as a personal Covid moment? Well, maybe I should explain it a little more using a recent scenario I found myself in. It was something that happened to me during said shopping trip. It takes in consideration the current retail atmosphere along with the personal bubble dynamic.
Most of us would agree that giving someone personal space is polite and a social norm. And, the same would agree that there are those that are oblivious to personal space, or just don’t care. But for now, thankfully, those people have to follow the rules because of the threat of Covid-19 and with everyone policing its compliance. At least, we hope that’s the case. Look, we know how this thing spreads, we know how contact plays a huge factor in that spread. And, we know that by adding a few extra things like washing our hands more, wearing gloves and a face mask can strengthen that protection even more. So, why am I still having internal dialogues with myself as to whether or not I should remind people of personal space and the bubble?
During my rounds, my final stop was Walmart. As I’ve done since the lockdown, and since all the social-distancing started, I had to lineup outside the building. Like many retail stores in the city allowed to remain open, Walmart too has implemented a certain capacity of patrons. A threshold of shoppers allowed in to accommodate for safe distance shopping. One by one as customers leave the store, the same amount would be ushered in. I safely waited in line maybe a minute before I was got to enter. Then, once I was pass the doors, immediately I was greeted by an young employee who handed me a cart and told me it was just wiped down and good to go. While shopping, I noticed clearly marked arrows painted in each of the aisles which directed the flow of cart traffic. Something else put in effect to keep shoppers from encountering each other face to face. Great idea, plenty of space, lots of time to peruse and move on without any awkward “excuse me, pardon me” moments I usually experience when shopping. About ten minutes in and grabbing things off my list left and right at leisure with barely anyone around me, I started to realize that I had yet to run into another shopper. Or, for that matter, be put anywhere near a predicament where I felt unsafe. Nope, all the rules put in place were working. It was stress-free and my safety was continuously reassured which made me reassured. It was also nice to see the odd employee randomly cleaning, they were wearing masks and gloves also. It seemed everyone in the store was doing their part to stay safe. Well, maybe not everyone.
Cue the the hardware section, in particular…”bath and kitchen”. I was looking for some silicone caulking. I had just followed my last arrow, rounded one final corner and found myself in the right spot. I started checking the inventory and the tags without touching anything looking for correct item. In my peripheral, I started to see another set of shoppers. A husband and wife coming down the aisle…the wrong way. They were a good distance from me and from what I could tell looked as if they were searching for something nowhere near the vicinity of where I was currently standing. No biggie. Then, a second later as I had finally put my finger on what I was l looking for, I felt as if there was someone getting close to me. I quickly turned left and noticed that the couple must had moved on. Nope! Glancing straight over my right shoulder, I saw the wife, she was about a foot from me trying to shop around me. At first, I was thinking OK, maybe they will pass on by or maybe they will at least wait until I was finished. I continued to shop. All of the sudden, it happens. She moves closer to me, and veers right over my shoulder. Sorry, but I could smell her she was that close. I immediately froze thinking “Really?”
The quick few minutes in which I stood there, a bunch of things bounced around in my head. I started to evaluate what I should do. Should say, or should I go? That’s what I was debating over and over. One second, I was thinking I should say something in a calm polite manner where maybe she would understand, leave, and come back. Then, I thought maybe if I said something she would lose her shit, spit on me, or do something much worse like some videos I’ve seen on the internet. Then, there was the husband factor. How would he react? Oh my, I just want some silicone, not a mental conundrum. Then I thought, surely if I said something to her about it, it would not be uncommon these days, she would understand. Wouldn’t she? Still, I froze.
One reason I was still internally struggling with this is because I’m not the sort of person to engage people like that, and the other reason is because I was genuinely intimidated by the situation of being so close to a stranger in the middle of a pandemic. This was a first. This was a Covid-19 moment. She did have a mask and gloves on as did I, but in a moment like that my thoughts quickly shifted to her mask and gloves being possibly her protection against me or maybe she had Covid-19 and was protecting herself from others. Hey! Am I wrong for going there? Anyway, before long I convinced myself to move along and come back when she had left the area. A part of me wanted to turn around, scold her, remind her of the six feet bubble, and wave my caulk in her face. Only, then I would be the bad guy. I don’t know, it was frustrating and the first Covid-19 moment I’ve had, thank God. Hopefully it’s the last.
I have wondered since of what many would have done given the same circumstances? Which leads me to ask. What would you have done? Should I have told her right away politely and hoped she would understand? Would you have walked away as I did giving up your right to shop and do so safely? Or by walking away from those types of encounters only encouraging others like that woman to break the rules? In a time where social-distancing is the new black, will the aftermath of this lead to more moments like the one I had? Let me know in the comments, I would love to hear your perspectives.
Friends, I felt like sharing this with you because it’s a reaction of mine. A reaction to a moment I felt the need to explore, a Covid-19 moment. I also wanted to share this because it forced me to think about my reaction in a sense of what happens when the world goes back to normal. Though, I truly believe we will never see the normal we were used to before this virus and some of that I’m OK with. The things that I’m not OK with are those people thinking they’re above others or think that they are the only ones that are allowed to bend the rules. We are all in this together. A slogan not only to be used for this pandemic, but, also a slogan to be used each and every day of our entire lives that we’re lucky enough to spend on this earth of ours. With the key word always being “OURS”.
Safe safe everyone, keep following the rules, and by all means avoid me if you see me shopping at Walmart.