Had to go out for a rubbish dump run and decided – fuck it – I’d also make a quick trip to the supermarket (last one had been ten days previously). As I’ve said before, these days it feels like I’m dodging bullets at the supermarket, even though they are giving us plastic gloves while we’re there and (most) people now know to stay a hockey stick apart. But I just “needed” (okay, wanted) a few fresh things.
Anyhow, as soon as I hit the street with my trolley and a few bags of rubbish my street guy Nico (yep he’s still out there every day) saw me and came rushing over. At first I thought he was going to ask for some money, and nothing wrong with that, but he actually asked if he could help me carry my rubbish to the bins. Awwww… well obviously for money but at least he wanted to “work” for it. Let’s just say that Nico doesn’t really get the “keep two metres away” thing so I thanked him, said I was fine, and that I’d see him on my way home from shopping, after I’d had time to sort out some cash for him.
Noticed that El Corte Inglés is even more vigilent these days, or else it was a busier time of day than last time, as there was a queue outside with everyone standing 2 metres apart. When it was my turn I went in, started shopping and then started to cry. Maybe in part because such a “normal” routine had become, well, what it is now. But it actually started after I bought some swordfish from the fish guy, who was so lovely and pleasant. And I looked around and saw all the staff stocking shelves and being helpful and I looked at all the fresh produce still available and that’s when I lost it.
None of these guys ever signed up for this. To be our front line essential people and putting their lives at risk every day for, what, minimum wage? Went on a bit of a Twitter rant about this, well not really a rant, just venting some pent up emotion, not aimed at anyone or anything.
Of course we applaud all of our front line people every evening here at 8 pm, to show our support, so they know how much we value them. And that includes all of them. But you know, doctors and firefighters and ambulance medics, and police… they have all been trained, if not exactly for this, but that they would be our front line people in case of disaster. Supermarket cashiers? Not so much.
And what about all the immigrant workers out there, still picking our fresh produce for less than a living wage, and really just everyone who is choosing to help. Can they even refuse if they are deemed “essential”?
Don’t get me wrong. It’s uplifting to see people making the most of lock down on the various social media platforms. And I’m enjoying the silly memes being sent to me on whatsapp. But what’s going to happen when the organic veg and meat deliveries stop, when it’s not only THEM (those without means, those “poor things”) going without, but also US. Will it take that for us to realise that we ARE them, and always have been, and that none of us are safe? I’m not criticizing anyone, just wondering how empathic we will still be once our own lives become seriously threatened. I hope we will rise to the occasion. I really really do.