The marathon begins

It was such a relief to hear last Thursday that some businesses would get the chance to reopen beginning Saturday and into this week.

Armed with hope and enthusiasm, I went to the local grocer to get a jump on the weekend. Upon exiting the store, it was as if I had just run a marathon – it was an entirely deflating, depressing experience.

My initial thought was a phrase not fit for a family newspaper, but suffice to say all I could think of was “you guys are going to goof this up – you are going to ruin this chance at a return to normal.”

There is little doubt that there has been much suffering in the past ten weeks. Everyone has done a great of job of supporting each other and making sacrifices to mitigate the risk of transmission through physical distancing measures and sticking to immediate family living arrangements. People have really tried hard to honour objectives laid out by medical officers of health.

Then Premier Ford spoke last week. He was specific with his choice of words, noting we still need to be careful, but it was soon time to open the doors of certain businesses again.

There, at the store mere hours later, it was as if a starter’s pistol had been fired off at a race.

Most families have delegated shopping to one member of the family. Those of us who had been doing the shopping in recent weeks were clearly shaken up by the wild west unfolding before our eyes.

The obstacle course most of us have traversed for weeks was laid out to ensure health and safety rules were followed. This strategy was all but ignored as one shopper and his daughter walked every row opposite to the arrows.

A baby let out a cry, enough to realize it was closer to a newborn than a toddler. More than one parent did an eye roll, wondering at that choice to be out shopping.

Another chap adorned in jogging gear darted and dashed between people like a ninja. He was polite at least, offering up an “excuse me” each time behind the safety of his mask.

Several seniors must have sensed they were missing out on something because there late-afternoon they were, just in time to greet the flood of grumps getting off work.

Another mother was joined by not one, not two, but three teenage daughters helping load a cart.

It was as if COVID-19 never even happened.

The thing is, it is a free country and we are all able to do our thing, but actions have consequences. Ordinarily these observations could be smiled away as just a case of it takes all kinds to make the world go round.  But today, having dealt with ten weeks of stress, and knowing what a second shutdown would do to the country, the question has to be asked: do you people read the news? Are you up on current affairs? Do you have clue one what will happen if the virus takes off again?

I, for one, hope that never happens and this ends up being found out to be a huge over-reaction. Lots of people are chatting that way.

But, I am not a gambler. I don’t like taking chances and I want my family and my friends to be safe. I want to see store-owners big and small open their doors. I want to see employees welcomed back to their workplace. I want to see students finish school and get on with their lives.

Without a vaccine or method of treatment, the free world is stuck on this treadmill. Why on earth would anyone think it okay to throw away the progress that has been made. Think about that.

The challenge remains to think of this like a marathon only finished by deliberate steps and determined people.

Don’t goof it up, please.