On Saturday I emerged from 2 weeks of family isolation – my daughter had a persistent cough, which didn’t appear to come to anything – and took a trip to Tesco. I have to admit I was slightly apprehensive about what it would be like. This was my first experience of “lockdown”! However, my concerns were unfounded. There was a small queue outside the shop; there was a one-way system with markings on the floor to assist maintenance of 2 metre distancing; the shelves were mostly well filled.
Later that day Gillian, our girls: Rachel and Chloe and I headed out for our daily exercise. Again, the first since lockdown and again our worries were unfounded. It was relatively quiet and maintaining social distance was not too challenging.
However, upon reflection the main thing I thought about the day was that despite, and maybe even because of, everything that is going on, the world seemed a NICER place!! The staff in Tesco were fantastic. From the guy welcoming us to the shop and letting us in at the appropriate time after the person in front; to the staff tirelessly restocking the shelves; the person organising the queues at the checkouts; the chatty checkout operator and finally the lady opening the fire exit to allow customers to exit away from those customers arriving. Every one of them with a smile and ready to assist. But in addition the other shoppers were generally friendly and courteous as well: patiently waiting while I searched for smoked paprika (which I never did find!); allowing me to nip back against the one way system to pick up the “essential” Coco Pops I had missed; thanking me when I suggested they go past. Obviously, there was the odd exception: the guy who was clearly just wanting to pick up a couple of things and couldn’t be doing with all the new rules, but he was definitely in the minority. Similarly, when we were out for a walk everyone said hello and smiled as we passed, despite the social distance between us. The number of houses with rainbows and teddy bears in their windows, expressing thanks to the front-line staff who are working so hard.
It is like all of a sudden everyone is conscious and aware again. As opposed to being caught up in our own little bubble of existence, rushing from one place to another, checking our phones and generally being oblivious to the world around us, people are paying attention to the world around them and living in the moment. Granted, there is a degree of self preservation to these actions, but I found it nice. For once our problem is everyone’s problem and we are all in it together and with that comes a collective spirit.
So, whilst it is easy to focus on the few idiots that flout the rules or don’t seem able to socially distance themselves, they do seem to be in the minority. So instead, lets focus on the majority. The people that are doing the right thing.
And maybe, just maybe, when this is all over – and it will be all over – some of us will remember how nice it was to slow down, lift our heads up and be aware of the world and people around us. And maybe the post COVID 19 world will be a slightly nicer world to live in.