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Covid-19 at the shops

It's been a while, but here are a few thoughts about the virus and the chaos that's sweeping the globe...

During the week I ordered some food to collect from the Asda lockers at my local petrol station. It wasn’t much—mostly gluten free items for my son who is coeliac and a packet of loo rolls and tissues for my elderly mother who couldn’t find any in the shops because of all the panic buying. Then this morning, on the day of my collection, a man rang from the local Asda and said that the lockers were broken and would I collect my shopping from the store. I asked if I could come as soon as it opened to avoid the mayhem and he said yes, and that the order would be ready whenever I wanted. So I trundled off down there at ten am this morning and parked in the click and collect bays at the front. The car park was already busy and inside, the queue at the checkouts snaked to the back of the store. I waited for the customer service guy to come out and gave him my name, before hot footing it back to the car. Once in the car, we had a bit of time on our hands so my son and I were able to watch the chaos unfold. Almost everyone came out clutching toilet rolls, many with two packs of twenty-four swinging by their side, one gentleman appeared to be in possession of a shopping trolley filled entirely with milk. Pure craziness. On my way out, I’d passed two women with a trolley who muttered grimly, ‘here we go,’ as if they were about to run the gauntlet. In short, it was wild—Christmas time on acid—but what concerned me most was not the selfishness or stupidity of the situation, but the fact that everyone, in varying degrees, looked slightly afraid. It struck me that people aren’t really buying toilet rolls because they might run out or because they anticipate a massive case of the shits, they’re buying toilet rolls because this is probably the first time in their lives that the world has spun out of control in this way and they are scared that life as we know it will slip through the cracks and be lost forever. By buying essentials—items that have always been easy to obtain—they can hang on to the world as it was for a little bit longer. They can protect their loved ones and families from a virus that is quickly spiralling out of control. It’s easy to judge others, to call out the ignorance and idiocy of those around us; God knows I do it in my head a hundred times a day. But I genuinely think going forward that we’re going to have to try and understand more, listen more and unfortunately for the stockpilers, share more. The world as we know it might be over, but humanity will go on and with it, I hope, kindness.

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