When our Chief Health Officer announced the easing of restrictions, I was jubilant. But life after lockdown has not gone smoothly, says Jill Poulsen.
When our Chief Health Officer announced the easing of restrictions, I was jubilant. But life after lockdown has not gone smoothly, says Jill Poulsen.

Awkward reality of life after lockdown

OPINION

LIKE most Queenslanders, when our Chief Health Officer announced the easing of restrictions, I was nothing short of jubilant.

I could almost taste the first sip of draft beer hitting my lips.

I was beyond excited to see some friends and family I'd been isolated from, thrilled with how lovely it would be to be able to go out for dinner again.

Unfortunately, life after lockdown has not gone as smoothly as I hoped.

My first weeks back in society have seen a newfound social awkwardness grip me and judging by some of the pretty ordinary conversations I've been having, I know I'm not the only one.

Take this recent exchange, for example.

Dear friend I had not seen in months: "What have you been up to? Tell me everything."

Me: "Oh not much, I started a herb garden and set a new personal best for how many jam drops I could eat in a 24-hour period. You?"

Dear Friend: "I watched that Tiger King documentary… and learnt how to do macrame."

After months of living as recluses, none of us have anything to talk about, but it's the new social norms I'm having trouble adjusting to.

For some people, the new world order comes as second nature.

Like my mum who has taken it upon herself to become an
unofficial
stopping the spread of coronavirus ambassador.

Her excellent spatial awareness means she's very handy when it comes to telling cafes their tables are too close together and three months of hourly text messages to remind me to wash my hands aren't even annoying any more.

 

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (left) and Australian Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg elbow bump after the introduction of the Coronavirus Economic Response Package in April. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (left) and Australian Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg elbow bump after the introduction of the Coronavirus Economic Response Package in April. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

 

For others, like me, the "new normal" of having a bottle of Dettol next to a cheese platter as a finger bowl does not come so naturally.

There are three distinct areas I've found the most pitfalls with.

SPACING

I've learnt that it is very important you now start to take notice of anything stuck on the ground when you're out in public.

Don't be like me and make the fatal mistake of looking ahead while you're walking and miss a sticker on the ground telling you in which direction you should be going, lest be screamed at by an overzealous social-distancing security guard in a Westfield.

Another no-no is overtaking someone on an escalator now, too bad if Slowly McGee wants to just stand on it instead of using their perfectly fine legs to walk at the same time.

Nobody cares if you're in a rush to catch the train, you must stand
1.5 metres behind and wait the full 12 minutes to get to the top.

Slowly McGee has the moral high ground in this situation.

SNEEZING/COUGHING/NOSE-BLOWING

Sinus is always irritating but now ...

I was enjoying my first meal at a restaurant when a particularly pungent perfume started to irritate my nostril.

 

 

There wasn't enough time to make it to the bathroom before I started into a tissue.

The audible tutting and glares from the other tables forced me to loudly explain to the friend I was with that I wasn't unwell, just suffering from a touch of sinus.

We didn't wait for dessert.

Possibly worse than a sneeze in our "new normal" world is a cough.

I recommend trying to disguise a tickly cough by turning it into a bit of beat box to avoid the disapproving stares of strangers.

When it comes to nose-blowing, there is now only one place in public that is in any way appropriate - a toilet cubicle - even then you might want to flush the toilet to disguise what you're up to in there.

GREETINGS

Hugs are now reserved for only your nearest and dearest and the wanky French-inspired double face kiss is well and truly cancelled.

But getting used to a new way of greeting people doesn't come easy.

I ran into a friend at a coffee shop when she introduced me to the person she was with.

I thrust my hand forward and shook the woman's to introduce myself.

It slowly dawned on me as I was shaking her limp hand that I was committing a huge social
faux pas.

We don't shake hands anymore, that is why hers had felt like grabbing a pork mini-roast - she really didn't want to do it.

I watched as the woman I had all but put in a headlock in order to force her into the taboo greeting sat at her table and promptly started sanitising her hands.

If you thought elbow-bumping was embarrassing, try violating someone's hand.

Gee whiz there is a lot to think about as we go about our lives in the "new normal" - anyone else feeling nostalgic for those halcyon lockdown days?

Originally published as Awkward reality of life after lockdown


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