diamond geezer

 Monday, October 12, 2020

Joggers are the worst. There you are trying to walk somewhere and they come running towards you, breathing out vigorously and dispersing heavens knows what. They don't slow down and they rarely keep their distance, they just keep on going without a second thought for anyone they're jogging past. No path or narrow pavement is safe.

I get why people jog. It's good for you, it keeps you fit, it promotes discipline and it raises the endorphins. It's also a much quicker way to use up calories than simply walking, where burning off a packet of crisps can take hours. So great, sure, go jogging. But do please try to keep away from the rest of us who aren't.

Everybody knows the virus spreads further if you exhale abruptly. Coughs and sneezes spread diseases, especially this one, which is why covering your mouth is so important. But singing and talking loudly are also high risk activities, not to mention repeated panting, compared to shutting your mouth and keeping quiet. Why don't joggers realise this?

The worst joggers are the slow ones, because they take ages to pass you and are probably breathing heavily. The worst joggers are also the paired-up ones, chatting needlessly to someone else as they run together. I wince every time I pass a group of people bantering, laughing or especially exercising because of the additional risk they pose.

But the very worst joggers are those whose running action appears to require a sharp exhalation of breath with every step, panting past you like a puffing train and repeatedly belching out who knows what. Sort out your inefficient and unhygienic running technique, joggers, or stay the hell at at home.

Single people have it hardest. You couples, families and flatsharers have other people around you all the time to talk to and interact with. You get human contact on a regular basis, including physical proximity. You're allowed to be with people no matter what because you're a 'household', and will be whatever new measures they introduce.

I think you forget this when you're out. You're so used to being with people that you forget some of us aren't. We're still weaving along the pavement and stepping out of the way of others, giving social distancing our full attention, and there's you in your social bubble doing anything but.

If you're out with someone else your focus is on them, not others. If you're mid-conversation you're probably not looking out for people coming the other way. You always stand beside each other rather than in single file. Unless we solo walkers take avoidance measures we can't help but pass you close by, because it hasn't registered to you that we're here.

Single people, I'd argue, are the very best at social distancing. It is our default. We aren't normally near anyone so it really stands out when we are, or might have to be, and it makes us uneasy. If you've been fortunate enough to have spent months being up close and personal, please remember those of us who'd rather not.

Why can't people keep left? It's the simplest of all the lockdown rules, allowing safe passage for all, and yet so many people flout it daily. If I keep left and you keep left we will not meet, nor walk into each other, maintaining a maximum distance at all times. It's hardly rocket science. Why don't people comply?

I always keep left because that's the rule, sticking carefully to my side of the pavement, alleyway or supermarket aisle. Keeping left reduces the risk of viral transmission. Keeping left saves lives. But keeping left is too hard for many, keeping left is too easily forgotten, keeping left is one breach of personal freedom too far.

The worst thing about you not keeping left is that it forces me to not keep left too. I have to switch to the right, which really niggles. Worse, your single act of thoughtlessness may cause a domino effect in a busy street until suddenly people are walking willy nilly, a perilous situation which could so easily have been avoided.

It maddens me when I see someone approaching on the wrong side of the footpath. How dare you endanger my life by keeping right? Why on earth can't everyone else follow the rules I'm following carefully and consistently? We should all be working together but no, it's as if keeping left hasn't even crossed your mind.

Seven months of rules, advice and guidance have affected us all in different ways. Some rules we've absorbed, some we've relaxed and some we've invented for ourselves. Some advice we choose to follow to the letter, some we bear in mind and some is only for losers. Some guidance is now an integral part of how we behave, some passed us by and some we've never even seen.

We think we know what the best path of action is. We're only too keen to tell others why what we're doing is obviously correct and why what they're doing is plainly wrong. But in truth we've all dipped into the same sea of evidence and drawn our own conclusions, without necessarily recognising how much we've overlooked.

You and I may view the same situation and react in diametrically opposite ways, one cheered, one furious. A lack of clear direction has left some of us eager to continue a normal life while others are too paranoid to leave home. A simple trip to the shops can be a daily treat or a living nightmare according to our mental situation. The dividing line between common sense and foolishness is wholly blurred.

We have all become an individual cocktail of behaviours. We now judge an identical risk in entirely different ways. We bristle when people don't do what we'd do, oblivious to the fact that we're not doing what others would. A cocktail of pick'n'mix regulations has made us subjectively intolerant. The pandemic has fractured us. Our reaction to it has only made things worse.

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