People watching-May 30, 2021

My wife, bless her, thinks that writing is just about being seated in a comfortable chair on a nice day. I try to explain that, if that is how some find inspiration, it doesn’t work for me. If possible, my best inspirational setting is being outdoors walking; that’s when I have my best thoughts. But, if I’ve been travelling, I’m in my next best inspirational space, just observing people and how they often have no sense of themselves. So, this is just a little glimpse of what I glimpsed during a few days travelling to Connecticut for our youngest daughter’s high school graduation.

Most humans have two eyes but never see: The advent of electronic devices did not create people’s inattention. I remember from my earliest days many incidents when people stepped out into traffic because they just lived in a world of oblivion. Devices just give most people something to focus on that keeps their heads down. We may need to solve some of the problems that causes by placing signs on walkways not at head height or higher. Airports are terrible for this inattention because people are often confused as they try to find their way and places to eat, drink or catch a flight. But, what’s more fun than just letting them meet you with their head planted in your chest and they walk on, rather than stop and look? 🙂

#COVID19Life has opened up new topics of conversation: How has it been where you live? Do you know anyone who had COVID? How was it? I really hated having to be in quarantine. Nice mask; is it (from your) work/school/town/homemade/surgical/KN95/’gator’? I’ve not seen my (parents, grandparents, children, friends, etc.) for months. Has your child been able to go to school? Didn’t home schooling drive you all nuts? Have you had your vaccines, both doses? Which did you get? What will you do if you need a booster? Will you mix and match? There are many more. By the way, how are you? 😉

Airports and planes are the places where mask compliance is best.

Dining out has really changed: It’s not evident what will happen in the next 1-2 years with dining out. It may never get back to what it was. At my daughter’s school, the dining room had been reconfigured from last fall to have tables for only 4, with plastic dividers to make each person their own pod. Food was pre-packaged or served; no open counters for salads, snacks, drinks, fruit, etc. Choices were more limited. Restaurants had to adjust to fewer people in total, and fewer coming in to eat, if allowed. They also had to deal with space restrictions that they could not control, eg outdoor dining was possible, but limits like distance from roads meant some could not simply put diners outside. Staff needed to live their new lives and many were furloughed or choose to stop working because they now had to supervise schoolchildren through online lessons, at home. And more.

Exercise and health have become premium concerns: Many have learned that a healthy body will be a better defence against viral infections than medication. It’s easier if you live somewhere where outdoor access is close to hand. It’s easier if you have that with few risks of encountering others. Walking in woods and golf courses is great. Playing tennis isn’t that bad. Going to indoor gyms? Not so cool. Living in Jamaica, where most gyms are outdoors, is near ideal, except that you really must limit your visits to early morning or after sundown.

Hygiene has to be (re) learned: I remember, early during the pandemic, when it became clear that many people had some sketchy hygiene habits. It’s not the stuff of the anal retentive to clean and sanitise everything, but simple hand-washing was novel, for many. I’d stopped shaking hands years ago, for some simple reasons: I noticed how some people just used a restroom and just walked out the door. In the Caribbean, we’re appalled by that–“Nasty!” Living in the Tropics makes you a bit more aware of germs and parasites, etc, but still. I recall when kids used to come to play how some of them never had the habit of washing hands before meals or after toilet use or after handling visibly dirty items. Touch wood, none of our children ever got sick from some gastric infection, but when one thinks how common they are amongst children, no wonder.

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. :)