Op-eds

Are we peaking too soon?

  • Howard Feldman 2018
In typical South African style, we are at the risk of peaking way too soon. The virus has hardly even visited the African continent, and already we are behaving like it’s been here for years. We are corona-overachievers, and we need to slow down before someone gets hurt.
by HOWARD FELDMAN | Mar 05, 2020

Around the world, behaviour is equally perplexing regarding the whole coronavirus story. For some reason, of all the things that we could run out of in the event of stockpiling, the thing that people have taken to hoarding is none other than toilet paper. Not rice, dry cereal, or Absolut Vodka, and not gin with Toni Glass sugar-free tonic water. But toilet paper. And it apparently matters not one bit if the item is single, double, or triple ply.

Not only do we have no sense, we also have no standards.

Already stories from as far afield as Australia are making their way across the internet. Supermarket shelves are apparently running low on this item as people rush to purchase the bathroom essential.

In Hong Kong, armed robbers held up a delivery vehicle with the sole purpose of lightening their load. True story, and one that’s hard for us to relate to. The closest equivalent we have in South Africa would be the Rolex Gang, and I can’t help wondering if it isn’t time for them to pivot slightly. We know that agility is the secret source of any business’s sustainability. Something for them to think about.

Back home, even though there is hardly a corona sufferer on the entire continent of Africa, face masks are already in short supply. Hand sanitiser stocks are low, and it’s not uncommon for businessmen to smell like fruit salad, given that Cherry-blossom-Summer is the only cleanser left on the shelves.

We have not only lost our minds, but also our dignity. And we aren’t even pretending to be better than that.

I also can’t help but notice how insecure we have become about shaking hands. A nervous giggle, a mandatory reference to corona, followed by a timid outstretched hand, has become “normal” as though speaking about it will protect us in some way. I’m not a medical person, but it takes no MBBCh to know that this will provide as much protection against the virus as asking a driver if they intend murdering you before climbing into their car.

My sense is that South Africans are peaking way too soon. This is fairly typical of our behaviour. Our sports teams have, after all, done this for years. In terms of the virus, however, we need to pace ourselves, and not exhaust ourselves before the race has even begun.

My perception is that we are so keen to get started, we aren’t even waiting for the starting gun. We are so busy “being prepared” that by the time it does arrive, we will be so spent that we stand little chance of surviving it.

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