Shopping during the apocalypse has it’s comic side (if you think about the absurdity of toilet roll hoarding) but it also has a far more serious one – and that’s becoming ever more prescient as time goes on.
Social distancing is all well and good if you can engineer a life where you’re not in constant contact with other people – but at the moment it seems to be practically impossible to accomplish. Supermarkets are no longer capable of meeting their online delivery demands and this morning (try as I might) I couldn’t find a single one of them that was capable of delivering a weekly (or even small daily) shop.
Practically the only thing even Amazon has left is pet food.
Moving as far forward to mid April on Sainsburys’ website still yielded no available slots – and others (such as Ocado) had over an hour’s wait just to get onto their front page.
That’s without having ordered anything or even determined whether or not there’s an available delivery slot.
I haven’t shopped online for years – and I really resent having to – because it reminds me of the period when I was a shut in recluse that couldn’t go outside for a walk even if I wanted to.
There are many uncomfortable parallels to my past life at the moment – but for very different reasons.
After a lot of discussion with both myself and her family (causing no small amount of emotional turmoil for both of us) my partner has agreed that – as someone with what’s classified as a significant underlying health condition – she should be following government guidelines and working from home for 12 weeks.
This hasn’t been an easy decision to arrive at – because she’s got a strong sense of civic duty. She’s a committed professional who cares deeply about the children she teaches – and it means a lot to her to be there for the key worker families that will still be attending school from next week.
She absolutely hates the feeling that working from home shifts the burden of this responsibility to others.
For my part I’d already said I didn’t want her to go in. The demographic of her peers is predominantly a youthful one, and her school has many teachers without any ‘at risk’ factors.
To my mind when I said this they will almost certainly weather the storm better than either of us if they come down with Covid 19. There’s no hierarchy in our relationship though and I would never tell her what to do.
I’d voiced my opinion and told her that the decision ultimately rested with her then left the subject alone.
I didn’t walk away from it in my head though. I can’t sleep a wink for worrying about her. She’s so important to me and I’ve only just found her. I can’t do without her any more and the thought of her not being there to give me a hug fills me with paralysing fear.
She’s her own woman though – diabetic or not – and I wouldn’t have it any other way. From the moment I met her pounding her way up a hillside at Cheddar Gorge I was attracted to her individualism and independence.
That’s never changed.
Both of us are free to do what we want when we want – and it’s important to me that there’s no control or emotional blackmail about anything in our relationship.
Consequently until late last night (where there were more than a few tears for both of us – but ultimately no disagreement) she was still planning to go into work next week.
Things noticeably changed though when I showed her the videos coming out of Sky News about what’s happening in Italy’s hospitals.
The cases in this clip seem to be affecting the young far more than medical experts expected – and it’s clear that the death toll is streaking past what anyone (in their very advanced and modern health service) was prepared for.
Yesterday alone it went up by almost 800 people and the climbing mortality rate shows no sign of slowing down.
So – she’s agreed it’s best to be cautious – but for all the relief this gave me it simply opened up a whole new can of worms.
I’m just as capable of catching Covid 19 if I’m out and about in the world every day – and if I do then I pass it on to her.
My mind is practically imploding with worry.
There’s no hand sanitiser, thermometers, gloves or masks to be had anywhere online or in the supermarkets, and that means (even if I’m in a lower risk category) I’m suddenly a continual threat to her health every time I go out – and that’s totally ignoring the worries I have that I might catch this hellish virus too.
My hands are raw from washing and I can’t bring myself to stop unconsciously toughing my face.
I hate all of the unconscious movements my body makes to scratch and touch itself – and when I succumb to it’s decades old programming and habits all I can think about is my mother suffocating in a hospital bed.
I know what this kind of death looks like and our home will make it next to impossible to avoid eachother.
We have one bed, one bathroom, one office, one kitchen, one living room – and although we could start sleeping apart, not touching eachother and tape off rooms – we live so close together that it’s naive to think this would be enough.
So how do we deal with the situation?
I know I need to think long and hard about what it all means – because I have finally found a job I love – and I don’t know whether the decision she’s made qualifies me to be allowed to work from home by my employer.
I don’t want to lose my job – but not only because it means a lot to me.
I’m making a difference and it feels good (especially at the moment) so I don’t want to put it aside.
On a purely logical level just waving goodbye and leaving it isn’t a good idea either. It was hard enough to find something I felt happy with in the first place and there’s absolutely nothing in the current landscape (or near future) that makes me feel that finding another one like it (or unlike it) will be easy.
It’s no longer a question of finding a job that I enjoy.
The economy is already on its knees – and I think that the 2008 global financial crisis will look ridiculously insignificant in comparison to the final picture when we finally add up the human and financial cost of what’s happening around the world currently.
Finding any kind of job for the foreseeable future will be akin to getting hold of toilet roll or packets of pasta in a supermarket.
You might get something – but it probably won’t be what you were looking for….
What do I do if I’m not allowed working from home flexibility though?
How much are our lives worth?
I can’t believe that it’s all come to this.
I’m a tactile people person who all of a sudden doesn’t want to be within 10ft of anyone.
All this was on my mind when my partner stayed at home this morning whilst I headed off on my own to get our weekly shopping.
I’d decided against Aldi – since my last experience of this had proven to be pretty close quarters. No-one there was attempting to keep their distance – although to be fair in the confines of a relatively small store there aren’t many options open to the shoppers I ended up standing shoulder to shoulder with.
Today therefore I decided on a bigger, more spacious supermarket that was broadly comparable cost wise.
However – there wasn’t a single parking space left in the car park when I arrived at 9.50am.
People had even double parked on the petrol station forecourt over the road and the queue for the front door stretched around the building. There was simply nowhere to leave my car and even if there had been people still seemed uncomfortably close to one another.
I don’t think I’m alone in suddenly feeling simultaneously exposed and vulnerable.
I don’t want to place my hands on a trolly, pick up a basket, or handle goods that other people have touched – let alone get anywhere near anyone that is likely to breathe on me.
Anything I might catch would travel straight back home with me to the woman I love and that twists my mind inside out.
Instead I turned straight around and went right back home until later in the day when things had quietened down. When I returned after midday most of the food was gone.
Even if you wanted nothing more a cup of tea there weren’t many options.
I took the last packet of ‘biscuit tea’ (this always cheers my other half up) and tried to find other essentials – managing to get some rice, fresh fruit & vegetables (oddly there was a lot of this) a few cans of tomatoes, a loaf and a couple of boxes of oats for breakfast – but that was about it.
How on earth did shopping become so stressful?
Even though there were notes on the checkout asking customers to stand a couple of metres apart I don’t want to be anywhere near Tesco – or for that matter any other supermarket or public place.
If I’m honest at the moment I never want to see another gathering of people as long as I live.
I want to shut the door, throw my arms around the person I care the most about in the entire world and keep us both as safe as humanly possible.