The Quarantine Diaries

Well. Fuck.

For years I’ve been teased and mocked for stocking up on essential foods, tins and pasta, and having an apocalypse plan. Now who’s a week into quarantine and not panic-bought a damn thing?

The first couple of days I spent glued to the TV watching the news all-day-long, which wasn’t doing anything good for my stress levels. I’ve stopped even turning it on until the evening news and just catching the brief highlights. The world’s going to hell whether I watch it or not.

I’m sad because in the last few weeks we have seen the best and the worst of humanity. The panic buying of toilet paper and pasta is utter bullshit, seriously where are you going to put it all? Nobody eats that much pasta in the UK, not really. And since when did you all give a damn about fresh fruit and veg? Leave it for the people who actually need it. The good bits are the community spirit has come alive again, people are saying hello, supporting neighbours and the elderly, a tiny effort can make all the difference to someone. I’m also surprised at this Tory government starting to realise actual human beings are the cogs which keep the wealth flowing in this country, so it’s only damn right to offer as much help to them. Basic things like sick pay being paid from the first day off, as it should always have been. Then people realising how low sick pay actually is, then Universal Credit being even fucking lower… So all those people talking about benefit scroungers and cheats, you think it’s worth the effort? Maybe now they’ll realise what people truly are worth.

As soon as Coronavirus crossed into the UK, so many businesses and corporations were suddenly announcing that they were ‘stepping up’ their cleaning protocols and schedules, handing out hand sanitiser and giving colleagues more opportunities to wash their hands and adhere to stricter hygiene rules… why? Because they’ve known full well that their hygiene and cleaning rules were lax and probably non existent due to time constraints, fundamentally a money problem. It’s hysterically tragic that money should come before even basic hygiene practices.

I’ve lost count how many jobs I’ve had were bathroom breaks are timed down to the second, how many people I see dashing from the toilet to the sink and splashing a little water over their hands, quickly grabbing a paper towel crunching it between their fingers and tossing it towards the bin, missing it but dashing back to their desk because TIME = MONEY. That’s even the ones who at least pretend to wash their hands. Leaving the bathroom and grabbing a squirt of hand-sanitiser en route to your seat does not equal good hygiene. How many doors and surfaces have you touched from A to B? That just in the office environment, need I go on about computers, hot-desking and the distinct lack of apparent cleaning being done unless you bring in your own wipes? And the mystery crumbs.

Hospitality and cafe work is even worse. I’ve done my share of these jobs and I can only think of one place that had good standards because everyone gave a shit and there was far less pressure on the staff to work if they were ill. We could swap shifts with ease meaning that no one was risking other people’s health or their own further. It was a great job, but of course it was soon obliterated, something to do with money I guess.

Prior to that I worked for a very popular and well-known coffee chain over the Christmas period one time, and in the cafe of a well-known supermarket. Both, during training, explained the need for health and safety, food and hygiene practices etc etc… in the cafe we did the full certificates for these one day. The instructions were simple, before leaving the staff area wash your hands, upon entering the kitchen/cafe area wash your hands again for at least forty seconds and use a nail brush, which will be provided, to clean your nails also. I accepted these rules, wore no nail polish, rings nor perfume. First shift, I washed my hands the first time, no nail brush, got down to the cafe and saw the manager who was already rushed off her feet, she told me to follow her but I quickly made for the sink to wash my hands again…. I’m sure Medusa looked at her victims more kindly than this manager did me that day. ‘What the fuck are you doing?’ She asked. And that was that… Seven weeks in that hell and not once did I see a nail brush, not once did I get a chance to wash my hands between using the dishwasher, serving food and handling cash on the till. The coffee chain wasn’t much better, three of us were Christmas Temps and we all ended up with the cold and sniffles. Did that stop us using the dishwasher and serving food to customers? Nope. Did we ever get disinfectant spray to use on the tables? Nope. Did we carry a damp cloth in our aprons that we used to wipe trays and tables and occasionally rinsed under a tap? Yep.

So honestly, I’m surprised this hasn’t fucking happened sooner.

I’ve ranted enough for now. I am heartsick at the number of people who have died from this, I’m devastated at the rate at which this virus is ploughing through the world taking the most vulnerable with it. I’m disgusted that no one in power seemed to be prepared for this, that governments are slowly realising power and money means fuck all if you’ve no people left in your country and that maybe we’re all human and we all have a right to live and survive no matter what type of education or background we have. But most of all I’m revolted by the people who are still flouting the fairly generous restrictions we have in the UK just now. It’s not fucking hard. Stop having parties, stop going out in big groups, stop travelling to the fucking highlands where the health service there can barely cope if all the locals contract Covid-19, and stop being so damn selfish. This isn’t a free holiday from work, this isn’t the perfect day for a day trip, you could be carrying the virus with no symptoms and be spreading it to the elderly and vulnerable family members of everyone you come into contact with.

Stay the fuck at home. Read a damn book. Play FIFA or take advantage of the free subscription to Porn Hub. Don’t be so cavalier with other people’s lives. Stay the fuck home.

e x

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