From check-out to bin – By @WeR4everPpl
From check-out to bin
Julie stands by the self-checkout in her M&S uniform carrying the till sanitizer spray.
No mask, no goggles, no visor. Just warmth, kindness and a lot of heart to protect her.
I feel shame at my makeshift mask and scarf as I’m younger than her and more scared than her, at least on face value. I wonder if I should tell her it’s not for me but for others at home.
She can see I’m unsure when a colleague stands three feet away from me loitering behind the nearest till. Julie asks him to move back. She reminds me of my sister, who always looks out for me. He doesn’t get it and shuffles a confused 3” onto his left foot.
The check-out staff have visors but no screens. The staff standing and filling shelves have no visors. Not even those maintaining the queues where people will pass about 3 feet away…lots of people on a busy morning. Somehow I expected more of M&S, not just any staff safety precautions, but M&S…
The man at the next self-checkout but one tells her he’s been delivering to the crematoriums. Julie asks she’d heard they’re not allowed flowers. No, no flowers at all he says. It hangs between them on the air like a sigh. I shout my thanks, just so she knows, before I leave.
I bolt out of the nearest door. It’s not the one I need but gets me out quickest. I put the bags down in the furthest sunny corner of the car park. A deep breath through the sweaty mask. I inhale London’s newly fresh air.‘I hate this’ I think to myself.
I lay the free bunch of daffodils up against the kerb like a wreath at a funeral. Touched by the glove that carried the basket.
I suddenly feel complicit. Are they risking their lives for me? For a box of double choc biscuits, 4 litres of milk and a dozen eggs.
The bin men arrive at 6.25.
Three of them burst from behind the truck. One with a mask pulled up and stuck on his helmet above his exposed face. One older, tanned, tattoed, tight bodied for his age.
That must be such a smelly job.
The last smaller, mousy, wiry, younger, perhaps the second guy’s son – there’s some resemblance.
The older clears the nearest green bin. It’s the compostibles. He hangs on to the back of the lorry near the buttons as the bin gets lifted in the air. First once, then again, as it reluctantly relinquishes its load.
Should he be touching that button?
Oh, he’s wearing gloves.
The other two head for the bin pen at the end of the courtyard. One goes in. I can’t see if the other follows. Maybe he’s waiting outside. The angle from the window is too oblique to see.
They come out with the bins, racing head to head to the lorry.
What’s the right social distance on a bin lorry?
It’s over in a flash. The unmasked man leaves the courtyard on foot going ahead. The older guy disappears behind the truck. Is he walking? Then lastly the younger guy picks up pace, jumps straight up and into the door as the van takes off.
No trace of the older guy in the street, he must be driving. Father and son? I think again.