The pleasures of life and antisocial distancing


One thing that I can’t get used to or even comfortable with during this time of the Chinese pox is the antisocial effect of what is termed social distancing, but which may as well be called; everyone else is out to kill me and I will physically recoil from you if you even look like moving in my general vicinity.

I have just come back from doing the shopping. It’s been a couple of weeks since my last shop as my provisions are plentiful, but I had some small need for fresh items for the pantry. More than that, I had a desire to venture outside, to be among people, those strange creatures that look like you and me. Initially, I also had plans to stop by the local garden center, a gigantic cavernous place which could easily fit inside a sizeable army of illegal immigrants at any one time and still have room left over for the requisite conspiring NGOs. But there was a line of at least a dozen people spaced at intervals outside the doors, and so I passed by without even stopping. I don’t need pots for my tomato plants that badly just yet.

Thankfully there was no line outside the supermarket; in fact, the car park was half empty which was a good sign. And I was in and out faster than most of my sexual experiences, which let me assure you was a very good time indeed. But unlike those previous rolls in the hay, this time I was missing something. The girl at the checkout sat behind a pane of frosted plastic, near me but isolated at the same time. The people in the aisles moved ponderously around one another like wooden frigates attempting to find the weather gauge. Unlike the sailing monsters of the past, my fellow shoppers had a reverse gear and they used it too, to good effect.

I had meant to get some pasta but there was half a flotilla circling around itself, each ship attempting to find its one moment to slide in without breaking the imaginary but very real fourth wall of virus induced terror. I moved on, my shopping bag held off to the side, the weight causing me to lean over as if my ship had indeed struck just the right breeze.

The reason that I had forgone a trolly is because one has to join a line to get those as well, and at the end of the shopping you have to line up again to hand it back so that staff can spray some sort of pretend disinfectant on the parts where you had so disgustingly placed your filthy and diseased hands. Bugger that, I just bring the shopping bag that the items are going to end up in anyway. With this method at least I know when I haven’t got room for any more.

Nobody looks at you as if you’re part of a community in that shopping area. The same is out on the street if you’re cycling around or whatever. Overnight we have gone from a community of people that got along pretty well with one another and wished others well to individuals whom regard all others with deep and overriding suspicion that you are a diseased unperson who must be shunned above all things.

Honestly, it’s getting a bit long in the tooth. I long for the days when we could happily cough in each others faces, let alone stick out a hand for it to be shaken. One thing is for certain, once all of this nonsense has finally ended, I won’t take for granted some of the smaller pleasures in life, things that before I had no idea were even worthy of being called by that name.

Originally published at Pushing Rubber Downhill. You can purchase Adam’s books here.