Covid Encounters


It’s finally summer here on the Sunshine Coast and week 15 of the Covid. There are still no public celebrations and concerts, no parades or marathons, no team sports and no public fundraisers. Club meetings, Yoga and dance classes are on zoom or skype, even family gatherings and weddings are held virtually with the betrothed assembled in front of a screen instead of a crowd. Good thing the pubs are open again and breweries are an essential service. Camp was already at our table at Gramma’s and our masked server just set down our frosty pints as I walked in.

‘How’s your week been?’ Camp asked, pocketing his little screen.

‘Quiet, but Clare and I went into the city for the first time since the middle of March and we both found that to be an unpleasant but interesting experience,’ I said. ‘Clare went to MEC to buy a pair of new hiking boots and here is her Covid protocol encounter: She researched the boots, checked availability and was admitted to the store as part of a lineup of customers. ‘I went straight for the boots and picked two of them off the display shelve.’ ‘You cannot touch the boots,’ a young clerk behind a mask admonished me. ‘Oh, sorry, can I try these on.’ ‘No, you cannot try boots on in the store but I can measure your foot.’ Ok, so no touching, no trying but measuring. ‘You have to buy them, take them home and if they don’t fit bring them back for a refund.’ Really? I picked the pair I thought would be the best choice and when I got to the cashier I asked if I could try them on outside in my car and if they don’t fit, can I then return them?’ ‘Sure, that works.’ My head was spinning. It was a rainy day. I took the boots out to the car and luckily, they fit, so I kept them. How bizarre was that?’

‘Well, I went to the dentist,’ Camp said, ‘and when my dentist, clad in full hasmat garb with double filtered gas mask, goggles, hairnet, face shield, full body plastic suit and blue surgical gloves came in I didn’t even recognize her. She sounded like Darth Vader behind her mask and I felt like I was in Space Cadets.’

‘Meanwhile the ferry is overloaded on most sailings, even during the week. In some restaurants and shops, it feels like you’re entering a science lab while some local eateries are full throttle ahead, with people in waiting lines, one next to the other and with no restrictions as to seating or distancing,’ Camp said.

‘No positive cases of Covid-19 in the last two months on the Coast, despite 40 average daily tests. In other words, we’re a Covid-free zone,’ I said. ‘Unlike the US and the rest of the world where the virus is on the rise and the curve is bending upwards.’

‘BC is now at stage 3 of re-opening and tourists are flocking to the coast as if it’s been newly discovered. Real estate agents are complaining about low inventories and town and regional councils are trying to restrict the short-term rentals,’ I said.

‘Pods have become bubbles and bubbles evolve into clusters and then into crowds and soon you’ll have full blown public gatherings without tracing capabilities. Like in Tulsa at the Supreme Leader’s rally. One guy on TV said proudly. We believe in god and Trump, guns and freedom.’ ‘What about science and truth?’ the reporter asked. ‘Not in my America,’ the white, overweight, bald shaved male answered, ‘not in my country.’

‘Trump and God?’ I said, taking a swig.

‘They’re one and the same in many addled minds.’

‘Except at his rally in Tulsa where two thirds of the 20’000 seat arena was empty.’

‘Have you ever heard of Tiktok,’ Camp asked.

I admitted my ignorance.

‘It’s the most popular app amongst teens and generation Z. Chinese owned and with over 2 billion downloads. A lot of them in South Korea. Mostly dance videos but apparently Tiktok users trolled Trump in Tulsa by reserving thousands of tickets online and then didn’t show up.’

We both finished our pints and looked around for the server.

‘Is Rosy our server today?’

‘Behind that green mask and the shamrock ball cap?  I would venture a yes.’

‘Two more pints please,’ Camp waved his empty mug in her direction. ‘Just because the Irish beat us to the UN security council doesn’t mean they are any more secure than us,’ he said when she came around.

‘No, but now they have a seat at the table with the Brits. That should make Northern Ireland a lot more interesting after Brexit,’ I said.

‘Is that still happening? Rosy said, while putting down two fresh ones. ‘I thought Covid and lockdown pretty well accomplished all that: Close off the island, separate the rich from the poor, tank the economy and kick out the foreigners.’

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