Yesterday, my daughter asked me if I had a hand sanitizer in the car and my response was that I carry one in my bag always even before the advent of corona virus. She responded by saying “Do you have in the car because of your driver and other passengers that he may carry when you are not in the car”. Of course I felt stupid because I didn’t make that provision.
So today after church service (yes I went to church….), I went to the mall to get sanitizer for the car and they had ran out of stock. I returned home without one. As I drove back to the house I realized how easy it was for the virus to spread. You can never be careful enough folks! My understanding of social distance as curtailment of this evil virus was enhanced.
And yes, I went to church today. It was very important to me and I had assignments. So I made a decision to take notes of contacts that could endanger me should there be a carrier of the virus among members. Below is a list of some of the interesting things that happened.
- I was giving a gate pass by the security personnel at the gate. I’m not sure if his hands were clean, if he used a sanitizer and if the sanitizer was not fake. But I collected the tally and reminded myself not to touch my face until I had clean my hands.
- At the entrance of the church, I was warmly received by an usher who poured some drops of sanitizer into my palms. She didn’t check if I used it or not. The truth is I didn’t because I was not sure of the quality. So I reminded myself not to touch my face until I cleaned my hands.
- As I tried to find a seat, my car keys fell and one of the very nice ushers picked it and handed it over to me.
- This is Nigeria and trust me, the weather was hot even at 7.am in the morning, so I walked to the big standing fan not too far from where I sat. I switched on the fan from the socket and directed the fan towards my seat. I reminded myself again that I must wash my hands and not touch my face.
- The fan was a big relief. However, it blew my hair across my face so I had to repack it neatly tucking it behind my ears. OMG! I just touched my face, my nose and cheek to be precise. I had not washed my hand prior to this time. That was a mistake.
- Shortly a little girl came close to me smiling. She was so adorable and I could not resist carrying her in my hands. So I picked her up and played with her a little before handing her over to the usher, who passed her to another usher who took her out to find her mother. Wow! all of that contact. Only God knows how many people had carried that baby. I encouraged myself, this is God’s house. I am covered by the blood.
- In the course of the service, my neighbor, a fairly elderly man probably about 60 years old asked me for assistant. I didn’t hear him well, he was whispering. We didn’t want to disturb the church service, so I moved closer to him. He was one of those who releases spit when they speak and before I could say Jesus!, I felt a soft droplet on my cheek. It was spittle. All he wanted was to borrow my pen.
- My assignment in church included collection of offering. I was assigned to three rows of 8 people on each roll. The process was to give the basket to the first person who sat on the first seat in the first roll who would pass it on, until the last person on the third roll after which I will retrieve the basket. That in all was contact with 24 people.
- I have faith, this is just an experiment, so I encouraged myself. As I walked back to my seat after dropping the offering basket, my eyes began to itch. It was that funny kind of itching that you rub impulsively. And that exactly was what happened, I had rubbed my itchy eye before I remembered it was “corona time”.
- Church service ended and it was time for grace. We were asked to place our hands on our heads and share the goodness and as you know for ladies who wear wig, your head actually starts from your forehead, part of which includes your eyelids.
- As I walked out of the service into the parking lot, the number of contact from after- service greeting was endless.
From the above summary, I must have had contact with not less than 50 people in a church service of 90 minutes. This does not include contact with shared spaces like chairs and tables. Now you can imagine how easy it is for the virus to spread.
We are by nature made to be social beings. We touch, we hug, we pat our friends when we talk, we caress, we shake hands. Also It’s also often difficult to keep our hands from our faces. We rub our noses and eyes several times in one hour.
To reduce physical contacts with people therefore means you must see less of people. And in the process you are teaching your brain to adapt to a system of no contact. It’s a reversal of norm. It’s like what I experience each time I go to the UK from Nigeria and have to drive through a roundabout.
Also, It is almost impossible not to share things and spaces for as long as we are in the world. There are public spaces and things we share like taxis, buses, trains, seats in the park, churches classrooms, elevator (including the buttons), door knobs, stair rails, bathrooms etc. The list is endless.
Corona virus and social distance has introduced a new culture of suspicion that paints your Neigbour as a suspect to be avoided and mistrusted. It is a pandemic that is re-writing world history.