I was met with a barrage of verbal abuse when I requested someone keep the required 2m distance away from me in a supermarket queue in Sainsbury’s yesterday.
I was generally very surprised about the lack of social distancing in the shop overall. Members of staff were too close together, they were too close to the general public, many people were milling around without awareness of those around them.
In fact, the situation felt so wrong to me that I did something that I have never done before in my life, and phoned the manager to complain. It felt irresponsible not to. As it feels irresponsible not to name and shame the shop in this post.
After a little reflection on the situation it struck me that between the angry member of the public, and the overall attitude of the shop, you have the two main paths that will lead us down a much darker path than one alternative that should be common sense but doesn’t seem to be right now for too many people.
Firstly we’ll deal with the anger. I’ve heard of other people having the same experience when asking others to move back a little, to give them both the required distance. It’s not as though the transmission only goes one way, I could have as easily passed the virus onto someone else as they could me… both are situations I would really rather avoid.
The data is very very clear. We are being led by science and we should not doubt or forget it for one moment – whether as a result of our own carelessness, selfishness, or ego – everyone must keep their distance.
If someone is getting too close to you tell them. Politely, firmly, and confidently. You are in the right and you should do so.
The second issue I felt that I had to deal with yesterday was a distinct lack of leadership and responsibility. From the manager (who confirmed as much when I spoke with him) through to the staff on the tills, who was standing up and taking responsibility?
Who was controlling the flow of people and the number of people in and out of the store?
Who was standing up to those who may be senior to them in the workplace hierarchy and saying “NO that is not putting the safety of the public or the staff first”.
It appeared to me that absolutely no one was doing such a thing.
We cannot leave it to other people to lead us in this situation, we all need to be leaders, we all need to step up and keep ourselves and our own house and our immediate surroundings in order. If people around us – family, friends, parents, co-workers, bosses, bosses of bosses, etc, are not doing what they should be doing and ensuring their own safety and that of the safety around them, they must be told and it is up to all of us to step up and tell them.
We are not playing a game, the stakes are high, so high. I have a family member with Coronavirus, as I’m sure many of you do, or will do. Follow the guidelines, be safe, call people and businesses out when they are not keeping up their part of the deal and do not be afraid to upset or anger people in the process, you might just be saving their lives.