• Pandemic Ponderings Pt. 1 – Missing People and Buying Things

    massage treatment room with table, stool, and artwork

    Missing People

    It’s been 7 weeks since I’ve given a massage to anyone but my husband. No offense to my beloved, but that’s not enough for me. I really miss doing massage. I miss my clients. I miss the feeling of being a productive member of society.

    So, why haven’t I written any blog posts or sent any emails since the shutdown? Well, to be honest, I just didn’t know what to say. I spent most of the first few weeks reading whatever I could about the virus. It was crazy. We were learning new things almost daily there for a while. If your inbox was anything like mine, you were getting dozens of emails a day with subject lines mentioning “COVID-19 Updates and Policies”. It seemed some companies were sending these out daily because their policies were changing daily as new information became available. I didn’t think anyone needed anymore of those than they were already getting.

    I also spent a fair amount of time trying to find disinfectants and toilet paper. But then didn’t we all. Aren’t we still?

    Honestly, those 3 things still take up a great deal of my time. Except when they don’t, like when I have virus fatigue and need to get out of my head and off my computer. At those times, I pick up a book, go outside for a walk, or make lots of yummy food from scratch. Sometimes I turn on the TV and watch something silly or play a game or 10 on my phone. I’ve even taken a few continuing education classes online. Then I go back to finding new information from virologists, epidemiologists, and pandemic disease experts because I need to know as much as I can about this virus in order to make the best decision about when to re-open my massage practice. (Hint: It probably won’t be as soon as the state allows it. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.)

    Some days/weeks I spend so much time reading and looking for info that I feel like I’ve become a hermit. Then I remember we’re all hermits because there’s a shelter in place order in effect throughout the state.

    Buying Things

    shopping cart filled with toilet paper

    I’ve also been doing a lot of thinking about shopping the last couple months. Not because I love shopping (I don’t) but because it’s changed so drastically. I never expected to go to the grocery store and see so many empty shelves. It’s totally insane and it’s changed the way I shop. I’ve altered the time of day I shop in the hopes of getting to a store while they still have a few cans or packages of some highly sought after item. I also find myself shopping (and paying more) for things like flour and other staples at small, neighborhood markets. I don’t like paying more, but I love supporting the small local stores (they need all the help they can get right now) and I like having flour, sugar, and unsalted butter in the house, even if they aren’t the brands I used to buy.

    There are a lot of other changes as well. Every store now has a plexiglass shield between you and the cashier, who’s now wearing gloves and wiping down the credit card machine between each customer. Bottle returns are closed and you can’t bring your own bag to the store. We sometimes have to line up to get in the store because they’re limiting the number of people who can be inside at one time. There are X’s or some other type of marking to help remind us to stay at least 6 feet away from the people in line with us. Aisles have become one-way, complete with arrows taped on the floor to remind you which way you’re supposed to be going. And we’re asked to wear face masks while in public buildings.

    Grocery delivery services and curbside pickup with online payment are hugely popular now. In a pandemic having no or very limited contact with other people is definitely the way to go. For those who are at greatest risk from the virus, it’s the only way to go. The delivery services even offer to call you when they get to your house, put your groceries on the porch, and leave. Contactless grocery delivery. Hell, there’s even contactless pizza delivery, which as an introvert, I fully support.

    Online shopping has gone from a convenience for many to a necessity for most. Rip a hole in your jeans? Better order a new pair online because the clothing stores are closed. At high risk from the virus? You’d better shop online to stay safe. Depressed and can’t go shopping because the stores are all closed? Online retail therapy to the rescue. Can’t find what you need/want in the stores because they’re all out? Try finding it online.

    The newest change I’m seeing is that fewer people are bringing purses and wallets into stores with them so they don’t have to wipe them down when they get home. Count me among those who’ve jumped on that bandwagon. (Any excuse to not carry a purse.) Now, I simply put my driver’s license and debit card in my pocket when I go to the store. Many places are even encouraging contactless forms of payment. More on that below.

    Going Forward

    I don’t know what the future holds. To be fair, we never really know, but this pandemic has shone a bright light on just how tenuous our grasp of the future can ever be. I don’t know how many of these changes will remain when this is all over and we find our new normal.

    I do know that I just got an email from my salon to prepare me for their (hopeful) re-opening on May 28th. In addition to physical changes to their space, scheduling changes, increased open hours to accommodate fewer clients at a time, and the removal of chairs from their lobby, they’ve laid out a new payment policy which is primarily contactless.

    I have a feeling that that might be one of the changes that sticks around after all this is over – contactless payment.

    If you’ve ever left your credit card in my office after paying for a massage (it happens more often than you might think) or could get used to not carrying a purse or wallet (I know I could) this could be a change for the better. As much as I dislike carrying a purse and wallet, you’d think I’d have my Apple Wallet all set up, right? Nah. Old habits die hard. Besides, I wasn’t sure about the security of those new fangled ways of paying and hadn’t gotten around to Googling it yet.

    Turns out, Apple Pay and Google Pay and other forms of contactless payments are actually safer than using your chip card in a reader. They all use a one time token to send the payment request but… when you stick your card in a reader, the store has access to your card number, it’s even printed on your receipt like this ****-****-****-1234. When you use a contactless form of payment, the store doesn’t have access to your card number. As credit/debit card fraud seems to be on the rise, this might be a great option whether there’s a plague or not.

    Like I said, I don’t know what the future holds except that I’m going to start using contactless payment methods going forward and encourage others to do the same.

    Next time, I’ll share a few thoughts on safety theater vs true safety.

    Resources:
    Is Apple Pay Safe?

    Is Google Pay Safe to Use?

    Is Venmo Safe?