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In the discussion thread: I still wear a mask, do you? [View all]

Response to sheshe2 (Original post)

Fri Jul 22, 2022, 04:34 PM

143. I'm in Scotland. Yes, I do.

Disappointingly, whenever I'm in a supermarket or shop (just about the only time I'm among people nowadays apart from close friends), I'm in a minority of close to one. Scotland had done pretty well in accepting the strictures imposed during the early stages of the pandemic, but now that clear official advice is lacking, people seem to have assumed it's all over, and COVID is "just something we have to live with".

Well, yeah. I live with it by masking up and trying to maintain at least a degree of social distancing when I'm among people in close quarters. It's not a big inconvenience. It may theoretically protect those around me more than it does me, but at least I'm doing all I can.

I had a disturbing experience in the supermarket the other week. It was a Sunday afternoon, and the place was packed, with queue at every checkout. I was trying to figure out which queue to join when a young checkout woman said she was about to open another station, so I should go ahead and start loading my stuff up on the conveyer.

I'd only just started when what I can only fairly describe as an old biddy (i.e. noticeably older than me) sidled in right up close to me and started putting her shopping on the conveyer. I told her she needed to allow me more room. She ignored me. Then she asked me to hand her a "next customer" divider, so I did so, in the hope we could stake out acceptable territory between my shopping and hers and her and me. Nope. She plonked it down hard up against my shopping. I hadn't managed to load up half my trolleyload yet, so I told her again she needed to give me more room. She said dismissively, "Oh just push it all along."

I didn't want to start a scene in the queue in a crowded supermarket, not least because I could see the young checkout woman's head was starting to hang as I'm sure the last thing she needed was a fuss at the beginning of her shift, so I just focused on loading the rest of my stuff on the conveyer belt and getting out of there as soon as possible.

I was just cashing up, when the old biddy called across to me with an infuriatingly sickly smile, "There, that wasn't so bad, was it?" That finally did it. If a scene she wanted, a scene she was going to have.

I called over to her, quite loudly, I guess, "You need to keep your distance. My wife has COVID right now."

This was true. My wife had been suffering from it for a week. When she first tested positive, I assumed it was inevitable I'd get it too. I'd been LFT testing myself every morning all week, but somehow the precautions we took (distancing, good ventilation, basic hygiene) worked, and I never caught it.

Once I said that, the old biddy went, "Oh, oh," and scuttled to the very far end of the conveyer belt (where I'd have preferred her to be all along) and huddled up to a guy in the queue behind her, looking at me like I'd just announced I had the Black Death.

I was just muttering to myself along the lines of "Oh, now you're seeing the value of social distancing" when the guy behind her (I'm not sure if they were related or not, but they were pretty close physically) called over, "Thanks for coming out and giving it to us all."

My response: "When did you last test negative?"

He replied a bit sheepishly, "Erm, maybe a month ago."

I pointed to myself: "This morning. This. Morning."

I finished up packing and got out of there amid a somewhat shocked and embarrassed silence.

I was the only person in a supermarket full of around 200 people who was wearing a mask or seemed to give a damn about social distancing when the stats were showing that around 1 in 20 people were infected.

If I'd been infected by that over-familar old biddy after the week of stringent precautions and daily suspense my wife and I had just put ourselves through, I'd have been livid. The old biddy was obviously oblivious to that possibility and was only concerned for herself when I made the risks all too vivid for her.

I hope she and the guy who called over to me may have learned something, but I doubt it.

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