I walked to the pub along the shore at low tide and thought about what Clare just told me. She is working virtually and is zoomed out. ‘I feel a bit lonely, a bit sad and a bit awkward, maybe even a bit depressed.’
‘It’s called zoom fatigue,’ I said. ‘People cannot function in two dimensions and not everybody is an actor or looks good on camera. Also, people present a persona which is switched on and you cannot get the human connection that face to face meetings and body language’ provide. We are not screen images.’ I told Camp about it and he agreed. ‘I don’t do zoom,’ he said, ‘either come and see me or I’ll wait until this is over. I’m not talking into a computer like I’m doing a commercial of myself. Not gonna happen.’
‘These are strange times. You know that I carry the same twenty-dollar bill in my wallet for the past three months,’ I said to Camp. ‘I haven’t used cash anywhere and nobody wants it. I wonder what happens to all that cash these days.’
‘It’s still used for drug deals and bribery, I believe, maybe even in Casinos but not at the grocery or liquor store or for that matter at the book store,’ Camp said, ‘and here at the pub it goes on my tab which reminds me that I’m probably overdue.’
‘And shopping is no fun anymore. Following arrows, standing in long lines, people avoiding each other, mask wearers giving no-mask wearers the evil eye, people making circles around each other like they have bad body odour or – punish the thought – the covid. Shopping is more like dodging people; get in and out as fast and as anonymous as possible. Don’t linger and chat. You might be holding up the cue. Simply put: No fun at all.’
‘If I look at the packed beaches and crowded street parties in the US, it makes me wonder if we will ever get that virus under control. I think it will define where and when we go in the near future. There will be a travel and activity list graded according to risk factors. From the best – BC – to the worst – Miami Beach and from hiking to the worst – a Trump rally. We’re supposed to go to England in September but we don’t really feel like going anywhere. We’ll watch and see.’
‘I talked to some tourists at the store. Two couples from Langley and they are travelling around BC in a camper van. ‘Super deals,’ they said and according to the RV rental place, 60-80 percent of tourists are missing this summer. No Europeans, no Americans and hardly anybody from out of province.’
‘A lot of people like it quiet and not crowded but not the tour operators , travel agents and tourist dependent businesses. We will probably never go back to pre-covid freedom. Those will be called the good old days and this is the new reality,’ I said.
‘What we really need is leadership and unity but in a world that values personal space, property and opinion above the common good and the welfare of the people, we will not be able to defeat the covid or save the planet’s environment.’ Camp said. ‘I was hoping for some unifying common ground that could be harnessed and adapted to fight big oil, big pharma and big government, to improve our tenuous world, but that was just wishful thinking.’
‘As Robert Redford recently put it: Instead of a moral compass in the Oval Office, there is a moral vacuum. And instead of coming together, we are driven apart,’ I said.
‘But don’t count Trump out just yet,’ Camp said, wagging his finger. ‘As Mark Twain told a reporter when a rumour of his death made the rounds: ‘my death has been greatly exaggerated.’
Vicky came by with our refills and said: ‘You two need to have a laugh once in a while. Know any virus jokes?’
We both looked at her open mouthed.
‘What’s the best way to avoid touching your face? Hold a beer in each hand.’