Passing the Time in Isolation

In my little corner of the world where we all know our neighbours, life is not much changed. The only real thing I see is when we go to the post office to pick up our mail no one shakes hands. We stand six feet/two metres away from each and smile a lot instead. The proprietor of our local little grocery/convenience store now wears a carpenter’s mask and latex gloves. He lived in China through SARS and he saw this one coming. He stocked up on every painter’s N95 mask he could find back in early February when they were plentiful. They are suddenly like gold and scarce as 10K diamonds. He just handed his excess supply off to two Rural Municipalities worth of our local volunteer fire fighters. Our fire fighters suddenly found they have none because every last one has gone to the local hospitals. Our firefighters need them too, with grass fire season just around the corner and being first responders to car accidents and house fires.

We are under a state of emergency. Only essential services are allowed to operate. No congregations of more than ten people. Bars, gyms, rec centres, pools everything closed. They even closed our town’s curling rink a month early! To close the curling rink before they had to just gives you a measure of the depth of the emergency. Signs on the Post Office and the Store say if you have symptoms you don’t come in. The local Rural Municipality office (equivalent of the county in the USA) has locked the door and you don’t get in without a real need that can’t be handled over the telephone and only by appointment. The school is now closed for at least three weeks. The only ones commuting to work are the nurses. The local dogs are very happy. Since we are allowed to go outside as long as we keep our distance the dogs are getting many more walks than they are accustomed to. I hear the cats are happy too.

A form of rationing has been put in place that really scares me. We are only permitted to buy one month supply of our prescription drugs at a time. The government does not want us hoarding. I worry about the rumors of China cutting off our drug supply. What idiot decided all our drugs should only be made in China anyway? The stores are still reasonably well stocked though you have to get to the store early because the shelves are empty shortly after opening. Some stores are faring better than others. Walmart is having trouble keeping up. Safeway/Sobeys/IGA seems to be better off. One of my daughter-in-laws works for Safeway and she describes it as internal pandemonium with sales up 300% and their distribution network groaning under the demand but thus far keeping up. Our local store run by the man who has seen all this before has lots of toilet paper and people are driving in from the city to talk to their elderly parents and grandparents through the screen door and then go buy his toilet paper.

The town’s ne’er-do-well got out of prison early due to the virus. This person’s latest crimes consist only of nonviolent property crimes. We hear this person has no money for food because of the need to wander about town begging for money. Of course food donations are refused. Only cash is required. We are all assuming that means this person actually has food and the real problem is our social safety net refuses to feed addictions. Folks are sending this person away with nothing but their own clean conscience. My dog doesn’t like this person no one has come by my door. Good dog! Why some idiot in authority decided we would be better off with that one loose in town again I’m sure I don’t know. We have enough to cope with. Fortunately, the command to social distance gives us all a great excuse to keep away.

My husband and I are fine. We walked the dog together yesterday. He could only go about 1/8 the distance we usually go and one of our neighbour’s said he looks like he had one too many beer but considering he couldn’t even roll over twelve days ago, we’re not complaining.

Our doctor is still in isolation. He was supposed to check on us by telephone Friday but there was some glitch in his computer so we are now supposed to sit by the telephone and talk to him tomorrow. He’s apparently frantically busy even if he can’t leave his home. It’s starting to get tough on the medical people. Our plan is to do everything we can to just get out of the way of the health care system for a while.

We are passing the time writing. I started bedding plants for my garden. I am doing double just in case this rationing thing gets serious. If it’s all over I can always give away stuff to my kids and the neighbours. I am spending an inordinate amount of time in Second Life where I do both volunteer and paid counselling work. People are anxious and a lot of them don’t understand why they have to social distance and can’t go out. If I help them understand, they calm down. I talk to my kids a lot. They are on the front lines in essential services. Years ago when we dealt with great flood of ’97 and after the September 11 terrorist attacks my husband and I were crazy busy the way my children are now. I recall while slinging sand bags how an elderly lady made brownies for us to eat and she gave us encouragement and praised us. It was all she could do. It was really nice of her and I so much appreciated it at the time. Now I sit at home and cheer the youngsters on. It feels strange, but rather nice, to be one of the old-timers and let the young people handle this one. Hang in there world. This too shall pass.

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