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Blue Cheese and Crumpets

I blame it on the hand sanitizer.  

No one ever realised that hoarding bottles of antibacterial goop was the gateway drug to collecting a two-month supply of toilet paper or baking banana bread. But then, no one ever really realised just how mad society would get over FMCG in the time of COVID-19. 

First, we took care of our hands. Then, our butts. 

On a non-descript Saturday afternoon I found myself at my local IGA just as the pandemic caper was starting to ramp up. 

It was three-people-deep at the three-ply. Beanz didn’t just mean Heinz, they meant survival. There was a direct correlation between gaps on shelves and future Instagrams of baked goods. 

The folk around me may not have been infected with the virus, but they sure were infected with frenzy. I felt like I was in Zombieland.  

“You just never know!” laughed a woman as she shrugged her shoulders at me apologetically. I stared at her trolley laden with enough alfredo sauce, potato gems, baked beans, and long-life milk to last a decade. 

Eating the rainbow was going to have to wait for another year it seemed.   

After what felt like several hours of bewilderment about what one needs during a panic-buying session, I left the supermarket with two bananas, gluten-free crumpets, sparkling water, and some hideously expensive blue cheese.  

When the actual zombie apocalypse hits, I am fairly convinced I will be one of the first to leave this mortal coil, albeit with a belly full of breakfast carbs and bougie dairy. 

And that’s my point. None of us are doing any of this perfectly.  

There may be a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy but there sure isn’t a guidebook for living through a global pandemic or, at the very least, your nine-year-old neighbour’s latest hobby of trying to learn the drums while you try #workingfromhome #isolife #staysafe #tiktokdance 

Even my dog’s trying to get their head around it all. Banjo the kelpie has become so weirded out by all this extra human time, he just flat-out runs away from us when we say his name now. I swear I caught him meditating the other day. 

When the actual zombie apocalypse hits, I am fairly convinced I will be one of the first to leave this mortal coil, albeit with a belly full of breakfast carbs and bougie dairy.

If you haven’t perfected your downward dog or your sourdough starter, you’re more than ok. And, if you’ve learnt a new language while teaching your kids about world politics while taking out another batch of perfect homemade croissants from the oven, I magnanimously tip my hat to you from 1.5m away.  

The King’s College London released results of a new study that found there’s in fact three, not two, distinct groups of people responding to the coronavirus crisis. 

“The Accepting” make up 48% of the UK, “the Suffering” make up 44% and “the Resisting” make up the last few per cent. Variances of each group were measured on things like alcohol consumption, sleep, anxiety, use of homeopathic remedies, acceptance of false claims, and uptake of lockdown restrictions, along with a raft of other attitudinal differences. Age and socio-economic factors played major determining factors. 

So, if you’re a baker, a boozer or a boomer (or all three), there are plenty of others out there experiencing it all just like you. No one’s getting through this ‘right’. A lot of people are just trying to get through, in any way they can.  

Learning from and leaning on each other is a fabulous place to start doing today a bit better than yesterday. Sure, there are plenty of big brands trying to remind you they’re “here for you”, but in reality, it’s our workmates and family and friends who pull through for us. I’ve been heartened by the camaraderie of our people, as we continue to meet our clients’ needs and expectations. 

Overall, I’ve been dealing with self-isolation pretty well. As someone who regularly worked from home in the past, and who leans more towards the intro- than the extro- of the ‘verts’, it’s been a somewhat okay transition in an otherwise unusual time.  

There are the usual suspects. Less commute, more pyjamas. But I’ve also got space and time to think, I have an ‘office’ for the first time in years, I’m embracing the slower pace and I found myself shifting from grief of what I’d lost towards gratitude for what this has given us all.  

Sure, I have my moments.  

I’d not been at my new job for more than a few weeks before #wfh hit. So, I’m learning how to work with a new creative partner and team, build client relationships, and cement my place in an organisation with over a hundred people. All over video chats. 

It’s my chance to learn a lot. About myself, my community, and what matters. The stuff that’s really worth panicking about. Hint: it’s not losing access to the pub. 

The world, our government, and our workplaces have an opportunity to change our direction forwards. We’ve had to radically make decisions at the polar opposite of a glacial pace. Better welfare, free childcare, less pollution-causing traffic were instantaneous; as was being more intentional about checking in on others and finding creative ways to do the things that bring joy to our lives; and working from where you can, the best you can, which isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution at all. A lot of it wasn’t our choice.  

But it’s given us one.  

Being confident in those changes we’ve had to make and the ones we want to hold on to will allow us to remain agile and productive and afloat. We’re not going to get every decision right, all the time. But moving with the tide will go some way — perhaps a long way — towards protecting us for the next round of uncertainty.  

Even the zombie apocalypse. 

Written May, 2020

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