Shock Shop

Shops here have started implementing different rules – including a 25-person at a time rule. Would we need face masks and gloves we wondered? Saw a couple of people wearing them last week. Now there are actual cases in Barbados – is this the new normal?

Just in case, we made masks out of paper towels, rubber bands and a stapler – Jack found a video of a South American lady demonstrating how. Then for extra protection, we happened on a pair of cotton/microfibre knockers that had seen better days. I mean knickers. I washed them first. Cut it into a mask shape. Not bad at all.

Turned out town looked exactly the same. The main difference are people on the street telling each other to stay strong. My chest relaxed. As well as support, there was a collective pragmatism in the air. Barbados is currently on the second level of its alert system. This means quarantine for newcomers, but not lockdown. Not yet.

There was no restrictions at Jordans supermarket – except a grocer standing at the entrance, spraying everyone’s hands with disinfectant when we came in. The checkout aisle is also now being treated like a passport queue. You wait to be called to the checkout from the aisles. We all lined up by the cereal.

I went in on my own. We’ve made the decision to protect our Cap. Try and keep him away from unnecessary contact – except with Quest! We need this crew member to stay well. I’m more disposable. No problemo.

I put on a pair of gloves. Latex. I haven’t put a pair on for years. I used to wear them all the time, in the IVF lab. The sperm lab in particular was the latex glove zone.

It felt good putting them back on. Like an instant flashback to cool and calm conditions. Going round the supermarket too, it wasn’t even that I felt protected from touching potential contaminated objects. The gloves, I remembered, stop you from touching your face. Rubbing eyes. Scratching nose.

There was another customer wearing gloves. Even so, I got a few pointed glances from fellow customers. People definitely socially distanced from me at the queuing aisle. Huh, I thought. No one breathing on me? That was cool.

After Jordans, I headed to Eddie’s. For the last things. The security guard approached me before I’d gone down the first aisle.

‘You cant wear gloves,’ he said.

I stopped. ‘Why not?’

‘The government say you only wear mask and gloves if you’re sick.’

I felt shock rise from my gut. What kind of government is saying this?

‘But I’m trying to stop myself and other people getting sick.’ I wasn’t even wearing a mask. Just gloves.

The security guard’s face didn’t move.

Dilemma. Besides the hygienic advantages for wearing them, I’d also just spent £7 on a box of mediums in Jordans.

I tried again. ‘I’ll less likely spread germs if I’m wearing gloves. Because I’ll be disposing of the gloves.

He wasn’t having it. A government order, he repeated – no mask or gloves unless you’re sick. The Eddie’s check out ladies weren’t having it either. With gloves on, I’m no longer welcome at Eddie’s. They glared at me until I left.