© 2020 Donna Hébert, all rights reserved.
It’s amazing how quickly I adapted to being in what I perceive as a safe place. I could feel my shoulders drop down to normal from the moment we pulled away from Canadian customs. Now, for the first time in many months, I could breathe freely. It was a seductive feeling – one that disappeared yesterday in the Margaree Forks Co-op. Waiting in line for checkout, I noticed that BOTH cashiers were wearing their masks so loosely and under their noses that they were essentially unmasked.
I remarked about it to others waiting in line, who’d also noticed, then got through the checkout and, returning my cart, mentioned to the woman sanitizing the cart that the cashiers were not in compliance and I would not be returning until they were properly masked. “Oh, but it’s so uncomfortable for them,” she said. Ummm . . . wrong answer. Hard as it was in that moment, I didn’t raise my voice (for one thing, she was properly masked) but I still said, “I don’t care how uncomfortable it is. People in medical jobs wore them all day every day even before the virus. This is a pandemic. If the cashiers won’t meet the legal requirements of their job, they should find another one.” Then I asked her, “How many people do you know who have died from or contracted this virus? You know, there are people I will never see again.”
She wanted to take me to the manager but I was upset and I didn’t trust myself to maintain my cool (read burst into tears – don’t you hate that?) and of course, I’m a come-from-away American and this is the only grocery store in town. I was planning to call them when I got home. I scurried out, feeling my shoulders going up again, and was getting into the car when another employee came up and knocked on the window. It was the nice lady who’d taken my quarantine orders last month. She was masked and so was I so I rolled the window down and we had a conversation about what had just happened.
I told her that when people walk in and see the staff not in compliance, it gives everyone else permission to do the same. I reminded her that we had quarantined in our home, not leaving the property for two weeks, in order to protect Canadians from a possible infection we might be carrying. Then I asked her what Canadians were doing to protect us and themselves. “Please don’t get complacent here,” I begged her. “You don’t want to live like we are now in the States with the virus spiking everywhere. It’s a horror. I know people are tired of this but it’s not going away and you have to comply, no exceptions.”
She took me seriously and promised to act on it. Today, I called the manager and had a great chat with her. All employees will be in full compliance from now on. Done, dusted, and solved. My faith in Canadians holds true but the lesson is that even though I feel and am really safer here, I still can’t let my guard down and I need to listen to my gut when it talks to me, especially when it shouts.
I must note that this is the only time I have found sloppy compliance (and now I’m starting to hate that word) since we got here. Eating at the Seafood Stop, The Dancing Goat and the Glenora Distillery, I felt completely safe, with tables distanced and everyone masked for a trip to the restroom. Restaurants here get your name, phone number, and email address to allow for contact tracing if necessary and hand you a sanitized pen to sign their book. The pharmacy in Inverness was also good and I felt fine in Antigonish both shopping and eating out. That’s why I was so shocked yesterday at the Co-op. It felt like I was yanked back into a battle zone. If I can get my knickers in a double twist over something this minor, imagine what my re-entry into the Untied (sic) States will look like in a few months.
Can I please, pretty please, stay here? I’ll play tunes for my supper!