Last time we had unpolluted air it took less than 7 days to return to ‘new normal’…

The year 2000 was wonderful for Sydney-siders dear reader. We were hosting the ‘greatest games ever‘ and the city was party-central for this fabulous festival of sport. Even the weather obliged with sunshine for the most part.

And because trucks were off the roads, only delivering at night, and most of the city’s occupants were on holiday and using public transport, the lesser traffic ensured the blue skies above were as clear as they’d ever been.

Pollution-free clear blue skies…

But what was special during that two week party called The Olympic Games, was how polite and friendly people were to each other. The populace was smiling and manners came to the fore – “after you” in doorways, “thank you” for anything. When 10,000 fans were crammed onto the Olympic train station awaiting the next train, instead of getting angry at the crush, we sang songs together and enjoyed doing so.

Instead of complaining, the crowd sang songs…

I commented to my better half “I wish people were this nice all the time. I wonder how long it will last?

Less than 7 days is the answer.

In under a week from the Games finishing, I had an elevator door slammed in my face as I went to step in, a queue-jumper pushed in front of me to order a coffee and road rage returned with a vengeance, as the roads and traffic returned to normal.

Quick, close the door on that person running for the elevator…

I’m writing about this topic, because during the early days of the current COVID lock-down, people have behaved very politely and appeared a lot more friendly. The early-morning walkers who would normally ignore a friendly greeting, have happily chatted rather than avoid eye contact. Dog walkers have been bumping elbows – and dogs.

Even the fitness freaks, who would otherwise be in a gymnasium of some sort, say “hello” as they sweat past you, or while doing their routine publicly in the park as you walk by. These might seem like small things, but in the big scheme of urban communities, getting anyone to acknowledge a stranger’s greeting is usually nigh-impossible.

“Hi neighbour, hello puppies…”

And you’ve probably seen the images of nature returning to its healthiest condition, unseen in decades, as pollution disappears from our rivers, canals and skies.

So with all the COVID-Buzzwords being thrown around, I wonder how long before the alleged ‘new normal‘ appears? How long before we go back to being our old selves? How long before what’s old is new again, again?

Given the “second wave of stupidity” by the masses afflicted with TPHS (Toilet Paper Hoarding Syndrome) I suspect that across the board, there won’t be much of a ‘new normal.’ People and companies will return to existing habits and practices, though with some modifications – such as working from home more often than pre-pandemic.

It seems road rage is on the rise, while social distance queue-jumping is rife in retail stores. If you don’t immediately step to the next “X marks the spot” in the checkout queue, some low-life will jump on to the unmanned X and steal your place.

Police monitoring social-distance queue-jumpers and those with TPHS…

And let’s not mention the oxygen thieves who state they are not going to let a pandemic interfere with their lives. They are actively ignoring social distancing and continue to hug, kiss and gather in groups. When one young male was asked by a reporter “what if you give COVID to your grandmother?” he just shrugged and said ironically “that’s life“.

So my COVID-Forecast for public behaviour is that there won’t be a new normal, just the old one returning along with the easing of restrictions. Most of us care about one thing – ourselves – and we’ll do whatever we can to look after number one.

Speaking of number ones, that reminds me, I need to buy some paper for number twos. Better arm myself and prepare to take on those with TPHS at the retail store…

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