The Cave Post Lockdown

You cant go backwards. That’s what I learnt today. You cant expect other people to either.

We hear on the radio that Barbados is returning to its new normal. What is the new normal?

We went to the big department store, Cave Shepherd, in Bridgetown. We had brief photos taken without our face masks – so we couldn’t be anonymous robbers. There’s a one-way system then through the store.

Cave Shepherd has a duty-free discount. Makes it noticeably better value to shop there. It was pretty empty this morning – which made it feel different. Every other time we’ve come to the store, it’s bustled with cruise ship passengers and Bajans.

The girls and I went straight up to the swimwear section. We spent a couple of hours looking through the clothes rails. We’d been waiting with relish at the idea of coming again. And with Cave Shepherd – the biggest department store in Barbados – the best bit is the sale section. Cave Shepherd always has good sales. We sifted through. Found dresses and bikinis and t-shirts.

It was nice to be in this new normal. The only thing I had to remember was to put on my face mask every time I went out to find a different item.

Finally we were done. There was another lady, waiting by the checkout.

‘Excuse me,’ she said, ‘do you mind buying my shoes along with your purchases?’

Confused look. She wanted me to buy her shoes?

‘I’ll pay for them,’ she explained quickly, ‘I was just hoping you could put them with your things for the duty-free discount.’

Oh ok. She’d pay for them, while receiving my duty-free discount. That made sense. Thinking about it, why didn’t people do that more often? Stand by the queue and wait for the tourist to come past. Then slip their items in their basket?

‘I wont get in trouble if I do?’ I said. ‘I don’t mind doing it – I just don’t want to get kicked out of Barbados right now. There aren’t many other places I can get to.’

She smiled. At least I think she did. Her eyes crinkled above her face mask.

‘No, it’s fine,’ she said. ‘The people here know it’s hard times at the moment.’

The cashier used my passport and boat papers to process the duty-free sale. She asked the lady if she wanted her shoes in a bag. The lady shook her head and peeled off her old shoes. She put the brand new ones straight on. They were flip-flops with thick, comfortable-looking soles.

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