Now that we have apparently, allegedly and for the most part, controlled but not beaten COVID-19, we are about to be inundated with lists of protocols on how to socially reconnect with a world that’s been shackled and on house arrest for 16 months.
Example — if you’re about to engage in your first gathering with family or friends — arrive within 15 minutes of the invitation time, do not show up empty-handed and don’t overstay your welcome. Good advice. Also, wear something other than pyjamas, do not stretch out on the couch and use the word ‘whatever’ sparingly. When shown their favourite family COVID photo, do not say: “It is what it is.”
Travelling by air? Pack your mask, a great book, proof of vaccination and… bear spray. Violence on U.S. flights like fist fighting and biting have recently become so prevalent, airlines are now training their front line staff in self-defence. The bear spray is to be used in extreme circumstances only and not when the flight attendant is slow in getting you a drink. Also a bottle of Purell would be a welcome sight on any airline. Fill it with gin. Trust me, you’ll need it.
Headed for an event with a fireworks display? Bring goggles, metal-lined gloves and a suit of armour. With more reckless displays of powerful fireworks than ever before — eyes, fingers and your life could be at risk. Last week the Columbus Blue Jackets’ goalie was sitting in a hot tub enjoying a beer when a rocket-like blast from a nearby errant fireworks mortar hit him in the chest. Matiss Kivlenieks was just 24 years old.
Off to the grocery store? You’ll still need your mask, remember your biodegradable shopping bag and a magic marker to cross toilet paper off your list. No longer in need of hoarding, by now you have enough two-ply tissue in the basement to withstand an epidemic of diarrhea in a small but densely-populated Asian country.
Also be prepared not to find everything on the list. Organized retail crime — gangs swarming and looting stores — is so frequent many outlets are now putting their higher-end times under lock and key. You know the ‘new normal’ to be anything but normal when Grandma is encouraged to go shopping with a guy who’s just out of jail for assault causing bodily harm.
Travelling by train? Bring a map to track your journey, a wind-up radio to listen to local stations you’re passing by and a fire extinguisher. The recent ‘heat dome’ showed that anything that sparks — from 1600 lightening strikes on B.C.’s South Coast in one weekend to a train travelling through Lytton, B.C. — can create a wild fire capable of reducing a town to ashes. Also a simple but elegant wardrobe of fire-retardant clothing might just save your skin.
Travelling by car? Snacks, a cooler for drinks and lots and lots of money. Oil companies never seem to get tired of creating a national energy crisis during holidays.
Just out for a Sunday drive? Bring water bottles, baskets for the pick-your-own farm and extra air bags. Speeding is up, road rage is rampant and stunt driving has the police stretched thin. Young guys think using the brakes is for sissies and stop signs are optional.
Visiting family far away? Bring small gifts, great stories and empty picture frames. After so much Skyping and Zooming, you might only recognize them if their faces appear in squares.
Taking a hike on a nature trail? Due to the absence of human activity and vehicular noise during the lockdown, wildlife have become more confident and territorial in their natural habitats. Last month a deer protecting her fawn attacked a woman jogging near Kimberly, B.C. leaving her cut, battered and in hospital. You don’t have to arm yourself for a nature walk, just remember to bring that can of bear spray, the one you used on the drunk on the plane who took a swing at you.
Planning on taking in a major sporting event? Bring a funny sign, your favourite team jersey and all the documents required to sell or swap your house. StubHub listed the best tickets to the recent Montreal Canadien playoff game at the Bell Centre for $32,925.00 each. It’s a strange world when your seat is generating more one-game income than the guy who scores the winning goal.
Yes, it always was a weird world but now it’s weird in a creepy kind of way.
My point? There’s an awful lot of entitled people out there who believe the shutdown owes them a year that’s been taken out of their lives. They are hell bent for leather to make up for lost time by overdoing everything and self-indulging like it’s 1984.
Until the joy riders tire themselves out and the outliers of society learn the hard way that rules and laws are not just strongly-worded suggestions, the next few months would be a very good time to… self-quarantine. Early indications predict the follow-up to COVID-19 will be CHAOS-21. This aftermath, something like “The Roaring 2020’s” might best be witnessed from a fair distance, a self-distance if you prefer. When the music’s too loud and the dancing gets wild, you might want to sit this one out.
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