#COVID19Chronicles-17: May 1, 2020: Issues with #SocialDistancing

The pandemic has had the effect of separating the world according to social types: introverts are supposed to be having a whale of a time keeping to themselves as they’d like and having that endorsed, while extroverts must be champing at the bit. If we wore our psychological profiles as badges, we might find that those people who are breaking rules on social distancing and staying home are just extroverts responding to their nature. They could perhaps reasonably say “I can’t help myself!”

I love company when I want company, but befitting an only child, I’m often happy with my own company, especially when I know what I want to do. That said, I love having my family around 🙂 Now, however, stay-home and social distancing are posing some inevitable conflicts, not of the fisticuffs kind, I add, but conflicts nonetheless.

The first was with my wife. Yes, couples are always fighting–constructive tension. Well, she was chatting up a storm and videoconferencing for all she was worth, in English and Spanish, but I couldn’t get my tweets to send. What the…! She’s normally doing her IDB thing in her office and her access to the Internet is fast and secure and away from home. I have the Internet to myself and all of my ways, and the vagaries of our local providers haven’t usually affected me badly. Sharing the Internet, however, most of the daytime was not part of the caring package. “Oi! Cut back on the bandwidth use!” I was yelling inside. However, as a seasoned husband, I have learned the softer terms. “Darling, I would feel so much happier if you could see your way to cutting back a tad on the Internet usage.” She, being a true-true Bahamian began to form the well-tried “Go pack your Georgie bundle!” but also after many therapy sessions uttered “Sure, my dear. I’m arranging with Digicel to fit a new router; they should be here midweek.” Well, that wasn’t so hard.

They came a day later than she said, and (accidentally–not, maybe) disconnected our basic Flow Internet router in the process. A little rivalry there, lads? Any, I’m tech-savvy enough to have figured out the problem and got my connection up and running again, by when my wife was jabbering at warped speed all over the Caribbean hyperspace.

Truth is she was also having trouble with Internet access because our daughter, who should have skidaddled off to the USA back to school, was still hanging around, and crimping her mother’s video-chitchatting as she had online video school starting from April 1. Dare I say it, neither lady was anyone’s fool that day. 🙂

So, happy wife (and daughter), happy life.

That Internet fix made it easier to be physically distant because the range of the routers was now effectively wider, and that allowed me to be able to move to an ‘outdoor office’, where my corner window onto the world was as expansive as I could possibly wish. I have become like Dr. Doolittle and am almost conversant in several animal tongues, especially Petchary and Ground lizard.

Our internal separation is nothing compared with the self-isolation most households are now practicing. We have a strict set of protocols for leaving and entering the home and try to leave outside material outside–shoes, changed clothes, shopping bags, etc. Or, we give a quick disinfecting to whatever has to come in.

We have had visitors, both invited and unexpected and we get them clued in very quickly or they do not go past the gate, and then we find little packages (some fruit and vegetables, jar of jam, loaves, etc). In return, I have been the donor of Julie mangoes, which can be collected from the gate post. Tomorrow, a farmer friend is bringing some goodies from her smallholding, and I hope to have mangoes to offer.

Perhaps, the most evident sign that life is not going on as it should is the relative quietness every day. Even though our neighbourhood is quiet, we usually hear cars moving around during the day. Now, hardly at all, and we can guess who is moving (usually some day workers coming and going, or the few who have to go to their places of work).

The saving grace, oddly, is a house under reconstruction at the bottom of our yard. The noisy builders and their jackhammering are a pleasant reminder that the economy has not ground to a halt. I managed to speak to some of them this week and got an idea of how the work was going and how many were on the job (about 20). The site is huge and it’s easy for them to be apart. I’ve not seen any wearing masks, but it’s not clear that they are really often within 6 feet of each other. But, maybe, tomorrow I’ll try to mention that. We’re mindful that when work is supposed to stop (4pm) ahead of the current curfew starting at 6pm we still hear a lot going on; those extra hours of daylight are important.

So, constantly living at a distance is less odd, though still strange. For how much longer? Who knows. Just deal with it as well as you can.

Author: Dennis G Jones (aka 'The Grasshopper')

Retired International Monetary Fund economist. My blog is for organizing my ideas and thoughts about a range of topics. I was born in Jamaica, but spent 30 years being educated, living, and working in the UK. I lived in the USA for two decades, and worked and travelled abroad, extensively, throughout my careers and for pleasure. My views have a wide international perspective. Father of 3 girls. Also, married to an economist. :)