Lifestyle Blog from the Philippines

Sunday, December 20, 2020

The Sunday Update 18: First Time Out

Today, after almost a year of staying at home and only reporting to the office once a week, I went out to the town proper of the place that we live in. I did not realize until I was in the middle of traffic and seeing all these people outside that I was terrified of being out in public. I am not used to it anymore. The fact that many people were not wearing their masks or face shields properly did not help.

My sister and I had agreed that for the first time since the pandemic started, we would go to the grocery to shop for food and other essentials. For most of this pandemic we had been buying whatever we needed via deliveries or at the Alfamart around the corner and this was the first time we were going to brave the crowds to shop since some of the things we wanted for Christmas were things we could not buy elsewhere.

We were planning to go out next week but after hearing rumors of lockdowns of public places we decided to do it today, timing it to lunchtime because we assumed people would be eating more than they would probably be at the grocery.

On the way there, I was surprised to see how many things changed since I was last in the area. Some stores were closed, some were replaced/taken over by new stores, and some were new structures to replace the shops that were once there. Sad, but it is the harsh new reality that we live in.

When we got to the grocery, there were not many people (yet). The guard took our temperature, using the temperature gun on our hands (?!) before letting us in. At first, we were able to shop in peace, but after a few minutes, more and more people arrived, probably with the same idea that we did. My sister and I were feeling alarmed about the whole thing that we forgot/skipped several things on our list just so we could leave as soon as we could.

While there were arrows and guides on how far apart people should be inside the grocery, no one was following them. If it were not dangerous to do so, I would have stepped in front of people there to tug down their face shields and pull up their masks because so many of the people there were not taking the precautions seriously.

My safe spot

At one point my sister decided to leave me and the carts we had at the frozen food section (where I could stand alone and distanced from everyone) so that we did not have to push the carts through the crowd. I was feeling OK until a crowd started to gather where I was standing and not all of them were properly masked. Some people were having an argument with the shop’s crew about something and they were all talking at the same time. I wanted to move the carts away, but they were too big and too heavy for me to push by myself. I was about to have a panic attack when thankfully, the argument was over, and my sister came back so that we could leave.

I was so nervous about being in a crowd of people that I was watching everyone around me the entire time we were out. I know it is not as bad as being agoraphobic, but I can somehow understand that fear better now considering what I went through earlier. I kept on wanting to wipe my hands, my arms, and anything that was not covered up with alcogel the entire time. It might be an overreaction to some, but I just do not feel comfortable outside anymore.

The whole experience was so unnerving for me that I think that (if I can help it) the trip to town we had today would be the last one I will do until I get vaccinated (whenever that will be).  I was such a germophobe before the pandemic, and this situation has just made it worse.

I hope this pandemic ends soon, I really do. I would love to be able to go out and not be scared again.


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