I like to go grocery shopping early, but today I waited until 9 a.m. because I saw the notice that the hour between 8 and 9 was reserved for the vulnerable. That was easy. I can wait. I went in to do my weekly shopping and saw empty shelves – a sight I never see in my Port Hope YIG (Davis’ Your Independent Grocer) as they are always quite efficient at having the shelves stocked and in great shape. I suddenly had a greater appreciation for people living in places where they experience this as a regular part of life. I had a tiny glimpse into what war time and post war rationing must have been like. It was only a tiny glimpse of course because the reality was that I still got everything I needed/wanted. There was no No Name Quick Oats so I bought Steel Cut oats instead and will enjoy the change. I couldn’t find dried soup mix, so I bought extra fresh and frozen vegetables and will enjoy the simple pleasure of chopping. I am not suffering any hardship here. And there were tulips – the Dutch symbol of hope; tulip bulbs having kept my parents alive during WW2, so I bought a bunch of those.
As a Loblaw retiree, I think back on my work life. I remember how I routinely popped out at lunch time to visit my elderly mother in a care facility in Brampton. I never once had to consider that by virtue of leaving my Brampton office I may be putting my mother in harm’s way. I recall how the most stressful days consisted of making sure that my analysis was right, and the numbers would pass the required scrutiny to get into the power point ‘dec’ for the annual meeting. Or how my colleagues and I might work extra hours to ensure that the new products would make ‘1st billing’ for the Insider’s Report launch date. No matter what, I NEVER had to think that my job may be life threatening.
Today when I finished shopping and went to check out, Michelle greeted me with a smile. She asked me how I was today. She told me to take my time as I bagged my groceries into my own bags because it gave her a moment to do a bit of extra cleaning. I asked her if she was nervous coming to work and she admitted she was a little. And yet, here she is, working, smiling, chatting. Michelle is a hero, because isn’t that the very definition of a hero? Someone who carries on – not because they are oblivious to the risk, or they feel invincible, but because they feel they should. They see the risk; they are worried about it and yet they do it anyway. And do it with a smile, hiding whatever worries they have for their own loved ones, away from sight.
So – to Michelle, and her colleagues, and all those others who are keeping our society going – hats off to you for your courage. You are our heroes.