As we take our first tentative steps towards returning to a life post-lockdown, it is no time to relax our recently acquired behaviours. Be excellent in all things – and best to avoid other human beings.
The end of the world is upon us (I can feel the oscillations of chaos becoming more random) and there is nothing we can do to stop it. I’ve been watching the numbers as they jump and leapfrog over each other as this virus continues to infect the globe in an ever-escalating sequence of horror.
We’ve been lucky in Australia but COVID-19 still lurks in our communities.
The battle continues, and we must face it head-on. (With a mask on. Head on, with a mask on). It’s a battle against an unseen, airborne enemy that knows no boundaries and respects no authority. But, I fear, the greater battle will be against ourselves – and the idiots we know we can be.
Before COVID, in Montreal a few years back, I watched as two loud brash American children touched every piece of bread in a large basket at the breakfast buffet. Their tiny choosy fingers examined each baked good on offer; white bread, sourdough, wholegrain, wholemeal, pumpernickel, baguette, croissant, scrolls, tartlets. Nothing escaped their sickening scrutiny. Both sniffled joyously at the array, wiping their dripping noses with their hands before turning over more potentially interesting, now infested, eatables. There was collateral damage on the cereals, fresh fruit and the cold meats, chafing dishes and covered tureens escaped their attentions but the bread, the bread was done for.
The male child, the younger of the two, sneezed over the selection continuously, firing off his mucus laden membranes point-blank at the breakfast banquet. He never once attempted to ‘elbow it’ in a sleeve or hurl into a napkin. And there were napkins everywhere. There were tongs too. But why use tongs when nature has given us these marvellous snot-coated digits? (Sadly, for many, the hand is not teamed with the intelligence to use it properly).
The parents of these phlegm factories (and one looks to the parents for parental guidance in these moments when it’s considered impolite for a stranger to clip a child on the back of the head) were either blithely ignorant or deliberately ignoring their offspring. Then, in all honesty, I wouldn’t admit to knowing those brats either.
As soon as the children departed with their bounty I, and an equally concerned woman, warned the staff of what we’d witnessed. The two twenty-somethings didn’t seem to grasp the enormity of the situation, probably more concerned with Taylor Swift’s love life than being ground zero for a global pandemic, but they begrudgingly removed the basket and its contents from the breakfast setting. I believed we’d done a decent thing, but I couldn’t dissuade myself from the thought that those same baked goods would be returning for the lunch service.
All exposed food is in danger.
Meanwhile, two days ago, after urgings of caution and attention to hygiene, and within the space of 40 minutes:
In Woolworths, two bickering women checked every mango for ripeness by giving ‘em all a good ol’ squeeze, noses right down on the mangoes’ butt inhaling the wonder. I didn’t buy a mango.
Also on The Big Smoke
On the bus a man was faced with a choice: release the plastic handgrip or fire one off over some strangers. He chose the latter.
Then a toddler at the bank ran his entire tongue the length of the red barrier belts in the queue line. God knows what was going through his head but what was coming out of it was DISEASE.
There’s no end to these moments when you’re aware of them. If you start looking for them you’ll be amazed we haven’t wiped ourselves out many times over. Although, we have come close.
And now for ease of use and practicality, we have touchscreens. Touchscreens are everywhere. Touchscreens are the perfect vehicle for the transference of germs. Touchscreens will be the end of humanity.
It’s a battle against an unseen, airborne enemy that knows no boundaries and respects no authority. But, I fear, the greater battle will be against ourselves – and the idiots we know we can be.
I signed in on a touch screen at the doctors. At the doctors?
Who touched the touchscreen before me? How many multitudes of sick and ill folk filed in leaving genetic traces on the surface? (A cynic, or someone less kindly intentioned than I, might suggest that at the doctor’s it’s a brilliant concept for return business).
Touchscreens are in malls as store directories, at checkouts, in grocery stores, at Maccas, at the airport, the back of plane seats, in schools and libraries. There are touchpads at apartments and hotels, for car parking, entertainment units in SUVs and car control panels. When you leave Officeworks you can say whether you had a good or bad experience by leaving your grimy print on a touchscreen.
Touchscreens are proliferating and the applications for their use seem endless. And, although they are everywhere, I’ve yet to see someone come by with the anti-bacterial, antiviral wipes and give them a good clean.
Yet, they are so easy and convenient. Yes, my friends, easy and convenient for the spectre of death to find you.
In closing – watch out for the idiots. Wash your hands, try not to touch your face, avoid touchscreens, and stay away from the buffet. The buffet will kill you.