30 Day Writing Challenge #15 - Changes in Socializing, We CAN Still Connect

Keeping a safe separation during hike,
image by Boots McFarland
In early March my husband and I flew back east to visit our daughter in a small town in Kingston.  While we were there things exploded worldwide.  Restaurants closed, universities closed, gyms closed, community centres closed, people began stockpiling supplies and social distancing was encouraged. We came back to find the West Coast a very different place.

I have mixed feelings about some of this.  First, of course, is the hoarding.  I understand the mentality, but some of it just didn't make sense. From the first sign of panic buying I wish the stores had immediately implemented limits as the lack hit our most vulnerable citizens the hardest.

Where we were gone, I also worried about the empty fridge we left behind. However, I had always kept dry and frozen staples around, so knew I could get by for a few weeks if necessary. After visiting 4 stores, I came up with almost all that I needed.  But I was surprised that after 2 weeks of panic shopping the trend hadn't abated.  There were still long lines to get into places like Costco and lots of empty shelves in the regular stores.  How much stockpiling can people do?  I thought the panic buying might have peaked by now.
By Siouxsie Wiles, Toby Morris

Also, the lack of places to get out of the house and the stress of self-isolating is going to be hard on many, especially the elderly and those with health issues. I have my husband here at least to keep me sane. Others living in isolation may truly suffer.  In the end, I think there are some common sense things to consider that would allow some socializing.

  • When the weather is beautiful, I see no problem with low risk individuals with absolutely no symptoms going out for a walk together.  Wash your hands before you leave. Don't touch your face while out. Keep a small distance between you at all times. Wave goodbye!  
  • Grocery shopping is going to have to happen occasionally unless you order everything delivered, so try to find a way to enjoy the outing AND be safe. A great idea is to wear thin rubber gloves. They will keep you from touching things with your bare skin. I like it better than disinfecting the shopping cart and then using bare hands to shop as you are still touching fresh produce and product packages. And remember you can't touch your face with your gloved hand either!

  • By Siouxsie Wiles, Toby Morris

  • Parking lot get togethers could also work. A few couples in our small strata decided to have a Social Distance Happy Hour.  We will meet outside in the guest parking lot on a sunny day, bring our own drinks in our own glasses/coffee cups, bring our own munchie if we want one and keep a safe distance - recommendation is 1 metre - with lots of fresh air around us. Again, anyone showing any symptoms is not invited.  
  • I am having one daughter over for a dinner/movie night.  We will not hug on arrival or share any utensils. Each person will serve themselves their own food. We will sit slightly apart in the TV room. At the end of the night we will wave goodbye.  

To keep in touch with friends and family, I'm also using a lot of social media. If you haven't used these in the past, now is the time to make them your friend. They can be a lifesaver if you get lonely or feel really housebound.

  • FB Messenger allows me to have a long conversation in real time - typed or audio.
  • WhatsAPP also keeps me in touch in real time and I love the group chat option for family spread far and wide. 
  • Facetime or WhatsApp Video are also great alternatives, as is Skype.
  • Zoom can handle business meetings or group chats.

More than anything, I think we need to let go of the fear and use common sense. Limiting exposure by isolation is the first and safest line of defense, but there are ways to be protected when you do find the yourself near other people.

Here's to hoping this passes quickly. I truly miss my face-to-face get togethers and more than anything, the amazing hugs that occur during those times.