Hello, hello, hello! how is everyone doing?
It certainly buoys up your confidence when folk are kind enough to say lovely things about your handiwork.
For the last few weeks, since the lockdown began ease, our wonderful little community shop and library re-opened, initially with restricted hours but recently they have extended them a further two hours.
I had previously wanted to volunteer but hesitated as I really did not want to be 'in charge' of what seems an overly complicated till system. There are so many different sources for the products in the store which all have to be logged into the till under the correct link, with the correct price (not all items are priced or bar coded) and tagged to the correct supplier. I was also rather intimidated by 're-fill station' where the customer can select their own quantities of dried goods and dispense them into their own reusable containers. Here you have to know the weight of the container, the combined weight of the container and it's contents, the individual gram weight of the contents as well as recognise and actually know what the contents are...! I take my hat off to those volunteers who more than willingly do this particular task.
However, there is something I can do, and can do happily - door duty.
However, yesterday I was very surprised to discover that most of the volunteers actively avoid doing this part of their stint. As the 'bouncer' you have to stand at the door, ensuring a flow of folk so there is no bunching up. Only three shoppers are allowed in at a time and they all have to wash and sterilise their hands as they go in. I have to respectfully request that they wear their masks - however everyone seems to be happily all masked up 😷 raring to get shopping. Once they leave, I have to ensure they keep to the flow route, sanitise any shopping basket they may have used, spray and wipe down all door handles, taps, the sanitiser dispenser. All very easy to do.
The two hours I do allow me to see folk I have not seen for a long time. I don't just mean during the last four months of lockdown. I mean folk that I have not seen for years.
Just normal people that years ago, I would have passed the time of day with whilst the boys were at school and we as parents would stand at the gate waiting for our mini-monsters to come running out of the doors.
The elderly gentleman who I used to see regularly whilst I worked at the Doctor's surgery some years ago. He and his wife were lovely folk, who I quite enjoyed chatting to and grew quietly fond of. I saw him yesterday and was saddened to hear that he wasn't well, his beloved wife had not been well either and had unintentionally got caught up in the pandemic lockdown. He'd not seen her for nearly three months while she was being kept safe initially in hospital and now latterly in a carehome. The husband tottered into the shop and we briefly chatted as I racked my brain for his name, by the time he came out I'd remembered and I spoke to him again. All his stories tumbled out and I could have cried. He was about to drive himself to hospital for surgery and all he could think of was his wife and wanting her to come home. By the end of his outpouring, I wished him luck and passed my regards on to his wife - to which his reply was that she would not remember me as she now had alzheimer's but he would certainly tell her any way when he next visited her. With that he wobbled his way to his car and drove himself to hospital.
That shook me.
I saw friends that, although we chat via messenger or text, had not really seen face to face or in this case mask to mask since March and it was wonderful. We 'air-hugged' and managed a bit of a catch up.
Then there was the lady who's horse had stood on her leg making it too painful to ride, so she was taking the horse for a walk on the long lead, whilst her husband took their dog at the same time. She stood outside holding on to both leads whilst he quickly popped in for his paper.
The old boy who came in and told us stories that I wish he hadn't - reliving his past when living in Kenya - he certainly has not kept up with the times #BLM and it made for very uncomfortable listening. Fortunately one of the other volunteers is a vague family member and managed to stop the flow of non-politically correct conversation and steered him out. Old beliefs and feelings die hard.
The regular visits of kids, masked up with buffs, hoodies, scarves and Tshirts - all line up, all wash their hands before being allowed in. They are a cheeky lot that need watching!
The regular daily visits by the paper buyers who only pop in for their particular newspaper of choice. Mostly blokes who come in, cheerfully masked and automatically sanitize their hands as they chat with me, the grandma who always has her three grandchildren in tow, the young mum who comes in with a tot balanced on her hip, the builders and window cleaner, the walkers and locals, they all queue up, wash hands and wait their turns. The shy postie, the blusterous bread delivery man, the brief and efficient milk delivery bloke, the large bumbling egg man.
They all, quite unintentionally, enrichen my day. 😊😷