Commentary: The Coronavirus Diaries March 19, 2020

Commentary: The Coronavirus Diaries March 19, 2020

Ian Haysom, a veteran journalist and writer, is a news consultant for CHEK. His coronavirus diary will appear here regularly.

Tom Hanks and I have a lot in common. For instance, our surnames begin with the letter H.

Er. And that’s about it. He’s rich and famous and has won Oscars and Golden Globes and is celebrated and adored everywhere and I’m, well, the opposite of that.

Except, that is, we are both type 2 diabetics, and pretty close in age, so when he and his wife Rita Wilson contracted the virus in Australia, I suddenly got very interested. I figured if all went well for them, then I’d have a fighting chance too if I get the damn thing.

And, well, so far so good. They went into the hospital for a while as a precaution and are now in isolation. Hanks’s sister reported that her brother isn’t feeling too great, but is doing OK. Let’s hope so. The guy is so decent and good and kind he could be a Canadian. The world needs him.

He did make the mistake, however, of eating Vegemite on toast, the national Aussie spread that makes most of the rest of the world gag. Aussies travel the world and go into raptures when they find a local supermarket in Whistler or Athens carries a jar of the concoction. Hanks ate some as a kind of thank-you to the hospital staff who cared for him. Greater love hath no man. That said, I do enjoy the English equivalent, Marmite. Which is less harsh. If Vegemite is made from veggies then I assume Marmite is made from marmots. Don’t quote me on that.

I read a piece, referencing Hanks, in USA Today about type 2 diabetes and coronavirus, and essentially it said we’re hooped: “People with diabetes are among those at increased risk for complications from COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

“That’s because fluctuations in blood glucose levels and possible diabetes complications can make it harder to treat a viral infection, the International Diabetes Federation says.”

So, Tom and I are being really careful. So should you if you have a dodgy immune system. No risks, right?

Hanks and I do have two other things in common. We both collect typewriters. Because these new-fangled computer keyboard thingies will never catch on. And we both have long marriages to strong, wonderful, gorgeous women (my wife is editing this).

Wilson, as you probably know by now, produced a Quarantunes playlist, but I hadn’t checked it out until today. Included are I Wanna be Sedated by the Ramones, I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor, Dancing With Myself by Billy Idol and Rise Up by Andra Day. My own favourite on the list is You’re No Good by Linda Rondstadt. Mainly because it’s, well, Linda Rondstadt and she could sing the phone book and I’d feel a whole lot better.

We washed our groceries today. This is a new thing for me. My wife’s sister, who is in England, said she’d read that it’s a good idea to wash your groceries, or leave them in your garage for 72 hours, after bringing them home, so they’re not contaminated. I haven’t seen this anywhere else. My wife’s sister may have dreamed it. But we did it anyway, squirting some cleaning fluid on the yogurt and milk cartons and such and then rinsing them off.

Save-on-Foods in Sidney has some empty shelves but still plenty of stuff, particularly dairy and bread. No toilet paper, natch, but they had some at the Shopper’s Drug Mart next door.

The store opened early for seniors, and about 20 or so people were in there at any one time, being civil and keeping their polite distance from one another. All very orderly. Which was somewhat different when supermarkets opened in England. People were jammed together and jostled in panic-buying mayhem. Government ministers pointed out they may have managed to stockpile food, but risked being infected in the process.

Which got me to thinking. In a crisis, there are those who act calmly and reasonably and try and work things out and work together to make things better for those around them, and there are those who run screaming towards the end of the cliff, like lemmings, pushing one another out of the way as they head for their personal hell.

There will always be jerks. Like those who don’t wash their hands in washrooms. I’ve seen it on the ferries for years. Guys walking out of the loos, bypassing the sinks, and heading straight out of the door. I’m sure they still are during this crisis, none of them have likely sung a Happy Birthday in their lives. Which is why I never, ever use the door handle on the ferry. I just wait for it to swing open as someone enters, which can sometimes look a little strange.

The other week, before the coronavirus situation got really bad, I saw a man walk out of a cubicle in the men’s washroom at the Bay Centre in downtown Victoria and head straight out of the door with unwashed hands.  And then I followed him out the door as he put his hand on the railings outside and then pressed the button on an elevator. I went to him, berated him, kicked him in the shin and beat him within an inch of his life. Well, I didn’t, being a peacenik and a coward, but I wished I’d said something.

The thing is, most people seem to be good during this crisis, and a few aren’t. The good guys are stocking up. The bad ones are hoarding.

My friend, Gordon, who is one of the good guys and used to own a drug store in Kamloops, is feeling bad for the many restaurants on Vancouver Island that are losing customers. He says they need cash flow. He suggests people start buying online coupons for meals to be taken at a later date.

What a good idea. It’s something Tom Hanks would do.

Read yesterday’s diary entry. 

Ian HaysomIan Haysom

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