Captain’s log (snigger) – Day 25 of lockdown, morale is high but supplies are running low.
Someone needs to leave the house, venture into the unknown and re-supply. It’s down to me…
I’ve been preparing my whole life for this moment. I’ve got a life-time of dog poo avoidance, obsessive hand washing and clean freakiness behind me and I’m ready.
Nina told me earlier in the week about a video where they use blue liquid to highlight where germs get and how to wash your hands effectively as a result. I scoffed quietly to myself. I don’t need to see that… That’s how I see the World! I’m like the Predator with lurgy-sensing vision sensors, blue highlighting germs spreading from person to person and surface to surface. If I’m hunting you and you want to hide, don’t crawl into the mud to hide your heat signature like Arnie, just have a damn good wash!
First stop on the expedition: Recycling bins.
Avoid uneccessary trips and kill two birds with one stone. I load the car with two bags of rubbish, a bag of plastics tins and paper and 10 boxes of Heineken filled with empties.
It’s been a week since I last drove and it feels weird. I’m not used to things moving this quickly. I pull out onto the main road and into the car park. Hit the timer, quick! Don’t spend any longer in the contamination zone than necessary!
15 minutes later, I’m still smashing Heineken bottles… Embarrassing! Nearby residents are raising their eyebrows and twitching their curtains to see if a local bar is dumping their entire winter’s recycling in one go. I’ll wear a cap and glasses next time.
On to the bin bags… Piece of cake. Both bags in one movement, minimal lids touching. Nice.
Plastic, cans and paper requires some concentration, especially because there’s a reusable bag involved. I hold the bin lid with the smallest patch of my little finger with the bag dangling from my thumb. Stay on target Jim lad!.. I’m concentrating hard, dropping recycling in as fast as I can. A bead of sweat runs down my brow as I narrowly avoid a museli box loaded with folded waste paper and packets spilling it’s load all over the floor. Result!
Damn it! The bag just scraped the bin. It’s contaminated! Do I sacrifice it? It’s a ‘bag for life’. Can I decontaminate it? Or is it’s weave a perfect habitat for Coronavirus? Wait a minute… It’ll be another week until I’m in the car again. I’ll just leave it in the boot under quarantine. Genius!
I close the boot lid by touching a part of it I have never touched before and will never touch again. Finally, I grab the multi-surface bathroom wipes (it’s all we’ve got) to give my hands the once over. My hands have seen so much water, soap and anti-bac over the last few weeks they’ve started to resemble turtle heads… Not that kind… The normal ones.
I grab the bin lid with the wipe and do the old ‘pinch and grab’ to chuck it in as the bin lids falls without touching anything. ‘High five!’
Wait… What’s this?.. Incoming!
It’s a mate I’ve not seen since this began… And his dog. He’s spotted me and changed course… We’re doing this.
He moves closer… 10 metres, 5 metres, proximity alerts are going off all over the place. “Proximity alert! Proximity alert!”
4 metres… 3 metres… 2 metres… He sees me back away and stops just within two metres and offers a foot shake.
I reciprocate and the dog follows up with a good sniff and nuzzle of the shoes just to make sure (terrific! I’ll be washing those later). Its leash is 2m long and it hasn’t read the social distancing guidelines so it then makes straight for the turtle heads for a stroke. Sorry hands, you’ll be getting another going over with the toilet cleaners again shortly.
Actually… We had a very pleasant chat and it was great to catch up.
Next stop: Supermarche!
Nice drive actually, this is starting to feel like a day out.
I park up and join the queue to enter. It’s long because there’s 2m between us all and they’re only letting a few in at a time.
After the next influx I find myself waiting next to the trolley return area and the last lot of leavers are returning their trolleys. I do the hockey cokey for the next 5 minutes dodging back and forth trying to maintain a 2m safe zone among the incoming fire.
One guy drops off his trolley and let’s out a big ‘phew’ breath in my direction as he walked past me. My desire to punch him in the nose is suppressed by my inability to wash my hands afterwards.
Then we’re in. My wave is permitted access. Here we go, it’s on. I grab a trolley from the decontaminated line, rev it a few times in my head and accelerate past the slow movers and drift sideways into the first aisle. I’ll stay ahead and upwind! First stop bog rolls, I grab a pack then hesitate because I want to take a second pack just in case. I fight the urge. Don’t want to be greedy, I’ll get two packs of beer instead 😉
It’s quiet in here… It was last time, too. No unnecessary talking or breathing people! And keep the eye contact to a minimum too. The supermarket has turned into a library but one guy didn’t get the memo… He’s chatting loudly with his girlfriend about what they need for fajitas. Shut up you idiot! You’ve polluted the air in that aisle for at least 5 minutes and I needed fajita mix too. Sod it, we’ll sprinkle some chilli powder on, the kids’ll never know! Onwards to the safety of the next aisle.
It’s the dried herb section and there’s a bottle neck.
I need garlic powder but there’s 4 people nervously squeezing past one another with their trolleys half full and their eyes wide with fear. Sod that too! I’ll be going home with beer, bog roll and HB pencil leads at this rate.
All of a sudden, I get a tickle in my throat. Dammit! I haven’t got a cough but now I can’t clear this tickle without the mob turning on me. The tickle is overwhelming and my eyes begin to water. I remember a Coronavirus meme online “I used to cough to hide a fart and now I fart to hide a cough”. I have a little internal chuckle to myself and the tickle subsides.
I spot another friend in the crisp aisle and after initial hesitation, we settle in for a chat. We’re like-minded and without discussing it, opt for more of a 3m exclusion zone than the recommended 2. I notice other shoppers hesitating at the end of the aisle before internally chastising us for contaminating the air with unnecessary talking and breathing. ‘The bloody crisp section as well!’ They move on, living to fight another day.
This is the second most interaction I’ve had with another real-life human being outside of our house for a good few days and it feels pretty good. We finish up our chat and both grab more crisps than we would in a peacetime shop before bidding each other farewell.
This is the big one and my predator sensors are going into over-load. There’s queues, people, the conveyor belt, next customer dividers, bags, card machines, risk everywhere… And the checkout person! I scan her for contamination, she’s got blue gloves on but I notice her eyes are watery and my world morphs into slow motion as she pulls a tissue out of her pocket and blows her nose before turning to me and saying “Bonjour”. Dammit! Everything is contaminated. I load bags as fast as possible and I’m polite as I take the receipt, thank her and bid her good day. She’s contributing to keeping us all supplied and I truly appreciate her for that.
Back to reality though, I get back into fresh air quick smart and chuck my newly purchased Haz-Mat in the boot of the car, slam it shut, drop the trolley in the contaminated line and retrieve my contaminated coin.
Back to car.
I grab the toilet wipes and give the turtle heads the once over. I do the old ‘pinch and lob’ at the bin and get back in the car.
Ahh. Nice peaceful drive home. It gives me time to think and I’ve got a plan for re-entry.
I pull up at home and unload the bulk of the shopping into the garage. The bags can stay there for a day or two in quarantine and that should hopefully kill any of the little buggers that have hitched a ride home. Fridge and freezer stuff straight inside with a quick once over here and there with the antibac, fruit and veg under the tap. Job done! Well, nearly done.
My turn now.
I head downstairs to the washing machine and chuck my shoes in, then jeans, socks, hoody, t-shirt, boxers and belt? I can’t say I’ve ever washed a belt before but I may have leant on the trolley handle so here goes nothing.
Wash on and privates cupped, I tip-toe up the stairs and past Nina and the kids buried in tablets and phones and onwards to the shower.
Ahh! That feels good. I do the full monty. Every square millimetre soaped, scrubbed and rinsed. I remember another FB snippet: “If exposed, the virus can live in your nostrils. Clean your nostrils” It could be Russian disinformation but sod it, let’s give it a go.
I lather a finger up with Dove and slip it in (my nostril). It stings a touch but not to worry, I soon make that worse by snorting in a cupped handful of water to rinse it out. That’s better! Properly uncomfortable! Feels good though.
Ah. That’s grand. Mission completed and I can’t wait to start eating that food in two days’ time.
Celebratory beer James? Why not son.