Social Distancing and Rediscovering

Name: Sueanna Frederick
Sex: Female
Location: Saint Lucia

This COVID-19 pandemic has forced me to experience a myriad of emotions, constantly changing yet constant in their occurrence. I have had my faith in humanity destroyed, restored and destroyed again. Regrettably, COVID-19 seems to be playing Russian Roulette with our lives, our emotions and our time.

During the initial stages of the threat of COVID-19, my greatest concern was that of transmission through the use of the public transportation system. Persons who allow me to vent about my transportation woes and to post what has been dubbed my “bus stories” would understand my trepidation. During the first week of March, I felt daunted at the thought of traveling to and from my workplace. I was concerned that I could contract the disease by traveling on mobile Petri dishes. I was also concerned that if I contracted same, there was a high likelihood that I would infect my co-workers and immediate family. One may imagine my horror when I woke up and discovered that I had a cold on the Friday morning prior to the shutdown of non-essential services in Saint Lucia. I said to myself “Lord if I have it, please don’t let me get others around me sick”. This remains my plea and motivates me to engage in social distancing, although this cold has thankfully been cured.

Admittedly, I have left the safety and comfort of my home on three occasions since COVID-19 reached our shores. On one such occasion, I was transported via a private vehicle to and from my destination. During that trip, I observed that many businesses were still operating, although some were taking precautionary measures such as removing chairs and offering hand sanitizer. At one particular petrol station that I visited, you were forced to use a “solution” ,which appeared to be homemade, to sanitize your hands before gaining access to the building. Notably, there was no such requirement for exiting same. 

On another occasion, during the shutdown of non-essential services, I visited a bank. I was pleased that the omnibus operators were following the 10 passenger rule, although I was concerned about the fact that three passengers were clustered in the back seat. During my trip to the bank, I lamented on the treatment of security guards by the very people who they were attempting to assist. As is commonly reported, in Saint Lucia, the queues were long and no social distancing measures were observed on those queues. 

As recently as Tuesday, I entertained a rumor that there would be a nationwide shutdown and ventured from the cocoon of my house, armed with sanitizer and alcohol-soaked baby wipes. I had the pleasure (loosely speaking) of standing in a queue for approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes to gain entry into the supermarket. There were restrictions on the number of items that you could purchase, for example, you could not purchase six rolls of tissue and four cans of milk. There were Plexiglass screens near the cashiers which limit their contact with you. The “baggers”, however, were not so privileged. On that day, I witnessed lack of patience, lack of respect and lack of understanding. I also witnessed a sense of community and comradery, as those of us who understood what was at stake chose to endure the scorching heat and listened to stories of those who experienced similar circumstances, post-Hurricane Allen.

I am proud to state that I have, save and except the outings mentioned above, practiced social distancing. My philosophy has been that I must treat myself as “patient zero” and believe that my interaction with any other person will (not could, but WILL) cost him his life.

I have engaged in “working from home” but I have also taken time to breathe, cognizant of the fact that as soon as this virus has disappeared I will be forced to pick up the pieces and attempt to rebuild what has been lost. It’s been odd not engaging in my usual routine and I find myself constantly asking my parents “what day is it?”. It is heartbreaking to read about the number of lives claimed by COVID-19 abroad. As with every other St. Lucian, I  constantly think about whether this could be our fate in St. Lucia, due to our total disregard for rules and regulations during this time. 

However, despite being adamant that no-one should visit me during these times, I have been visited by “Time”. I now have time… to engage in in-depth introspection, to sleep in, to read, to cook, to give my parents a helping hand around the house, to reconnect with friends and family (virtually of course), to bake, to rediscover my love for poetry and to write poetry (after a year-long hiatus). I have been forced to acknowledge that some parts of my “routine” are not beneficial to me and in fact, are detrimental to those who are connected to me. 

Despite this realization, my greatest “fear” or concern during this pandemic relates to the idea that there are persons who are not mentally capable of handling the presence of “time” and whose economic and social challenges have reared their ugly heads in the absence of the usual hustle and bustle of life.

The refrain of Amaté’s “World in Crisis” plays constantly in my mind, but my faith causes me to believe that things will get better in time.

Please share your #QuarantinedCaribbean stories with us. Have you lost your job? Are you now doing your job in different ways? Has it changed your social dynamics? How? Have you spent more time with family? How do you feel about all of this? Do you plan on gardening more after this? Are you playing more board games?

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