by Allison Smith –
“Do you need anything?” called a younger neighbour to the senior across the street as I returned from the park on this sunny afternoon. A kind question from one neighbour to another that wouldn’t have seemed out of place even a week ago now stands out for what it represents – the desire, and need, for us all to care for one another in these uncertain and scary times of COVID-19.
You certainly know that Seaside Magazine is all about community, and if you read my column on a regular basis you’ll remember the one from December, where I penned the words “nowhere is the feeling of small-town friendliness and caring more apparent than in times of need, and celebration.”
In various stores around town for the past few days, shelves that were once overflowing with goods and food are now bare. Only white dust remained on the shelves that had held flour just a day before, most of the meat was gone and not a roll of toilet paper or paper towel was to be found. “Stop hoarding,” everyone says, and Premier John Horgan expressed disgust at the practise. “Think of your neighbour, the senior who can’t drive all over town for a loaf of bread,” shame the posts in my social media feeds. To those who are buying more than their fair share, more than they can possibly use in a two-week quarantine period, I shake my head, but at the same time I do get it. These are unprecedented times that will last for who knows how long. We have no control, and we want to feel safe. Having a home that is fully stocked with necessites makes you feel prepared, and in control of something that is outside our understanding. I stood before a shelf with four packages of toilet paper on it. I needed toilet paper, but felt the urge to put a second package in my cart, “just to be on the safe side.” I didn’t, but at that moment I understood the feeling that compels those who will clear a shelf with no concern for those they are leaving without.
Luckily, it appears that those people are in the minority on the Saanich Peninsula. This is not a time of celebration, but it is a time of need. We are panicking, and perhaps over-preparing, but we are also thinking of our neighbours, our friends, our family, and even strangers. We are planning ahead and making special trips. We are finishing our Facebook posts with words like “Help a neighbour if you can. And remember to always be kind.” We are showing our community spirit. And my heart, while beating a little faster, is full.