‘Dad, can I help you wash your finger’.
This is not a trite or flippant quote. The seriousness of what is currently happening to our world and lives cannot be understated.
The quote tells you a lot about the current psyche of our country and, in some ways is reassuring as the messages about washing hands is starting to really hit home.
Two things. Firstly, this is what my 12-year-old daughter said to me last Friday. And from a girl who you usually have to coerce and cajole to see cleanliness as the default option. Second, if you don’t know me, I have no arms and just one finger and it was her own way of trying to keep me safe.
Our lives are going to change over the coming weeks. For me, making those adaptations to what I normally do is going to be even more challenging.
I use my mouth to do most things – with a little help from my finger. They are in constant contact. Opening of a door, eating, drinking, driving and moving around my office. It is almost impossible for me to operate independently without them working in concert. But it will need to happen, and I have already learned the art of pushing down a door handle with my chin. And funnily enough I didn’t realise what a powerful advocate a strong but nimble shoulder can be.
I will adapt and survive with a level of independence intact, but I need others around me to retain their manners. Two examples last week where I am starting to worry that self-preservation is starting to trump kindness. And both involve taxi drivers who I have generally found to be wonderful, which is good given the amount of travelling I do.
I was asked to get out of a taxi last Tuesday because the driver had turned off the meter even though he and I knew we weren’t directly outside the address – I cant find it he said but it must be the building next door. He knew it wasn’t. With my briefcase over my shoulder and mobile phone in my mouth talking to the office who were talking to the actual venue destination I navigated the 250 additional metres.
I felt vulnerable, and in a way I hadn’t for a long time. The previous week I had travelled to Exeter and back (15 hours round trip) without concern. The following day I was back in London and got dropped off at the end of a road (near the Bank interchange if you know it). I was told my destination was only 25 metres away around the corner – he couldn’t drop me off as taxi’s had been prohibited from accessing the road. 25 minutes later I made it on foot to the venue, exhausted, only to stand as a stream of taxi’s passed by me.
Bad luck. Coincidental. I hope so. In these tough times we all need to stick together and be supportive.
After a tough week I did have to laugh when someone mentioned their concern to me about getting hand gel in my mouth, and my 7-year-old son said they shouldn’t worry because ‘dad likes alcohol’!!
Be safe and be kind.
17 March 2020