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26/05/2020 The Communication Science magazine

Chit Chats and Common Jokes – Here’s How a Trip to the Grocery Store Will Save Your Quarantine

Cecilia gives excellent advice on how to deal with our quarantine by interacting and caring for others.


Restaurants, cafés and pubs; parks, schools, and sport centers – all closed. Covid-19 has turned our life upside down and forced us to re-evaluate those duties and ordinary tasks we used to complain about. Now, a walk to the garbage bin, or a quick detour to the supermarket to get some milk, feels like a great adventure. A foreign ‘hello’ from the other side of the street can make our day. With freedom dosed with the dropper, and the overwhelming presence of the unknown hanging just above our heads, every little taste of ordinary life feels like heaven, and small talks are the way to go. 

Deserted roads and empty squares, that’s what most cities look like these days. Safety precautions and victims are all we hear about. Locked into our houses for almost two months now, the old ‘Netflix and chill’ is starting to feel a little less appealing and the “what’s up?” question is no longer an option. Social distances, two-hour queues at the grocery store, and jogging sessions around the block; that’s what our ordinary life has become. And yet, somehow, it feels as though we were much closer together. It might because we are all squeezed into our houses, fighting over the remoter, and betting on who will be the next one to lose it. However, the idea of us all being on the same boat, is what gets most people through the day. Sure, we have no clue where this unforgettable cruise is headed, but as Troy Bolton used to sing, “We are all in this together”. Aren’t we?     

The Priceless Value of Small Talks

the small, forgotten towns where everyone is family do not feel that fictional anymore

Think about Stars Hollow, Castle Rock, and Bomont. Think about Riverdale, Hawkins, and Quahog. You might be familiar with some of these names, and never heard of others, but that’s not the point. The thing is, that these small, forgotten towns where everyone is family, do not feel that fictional anymore. The frenetic, trafficked, and loud cities most of us grew up in, have suddenly ‘stopped’. The few people that walk on the street do not run anymore, but rather amble without rush, enjoying every step they take to reach the closest newsstand. The endless queues at the grocery store are now an opportunity to get some fresh air and enjoy that little taste of freedom much more than we used to. And small talks are back on stage. 

Our days are filled with video-calls, online courses, and binge-watching. But it is not enough, and most of us feel the need for offline life, now more than ever. So here’s what I came up with, small talks. “Poor deluded thing”, you might think. Fair enough. But if you have a greater solution, well, I’m all ears. In the meanwhile, here’s how it works. 

You start by asking the baker his name and the cashier at the supermarket how she’s doing. The next day you walk into the store and greet the owner by name. He’ll be surprised and pleased by the fact that you remember it, and will ask for yours. And so on. Easy right? And yet, it feels great. But that’s what small talks do, they make you feel part of something. 

And before you know it, you’ll be discussing with the girl working at the grocery store about her graduation project, and laughing with the baker about his son’s first steps. Funny how things turn out sometimes, right? But that’s life. And who knows? You might end up timing your neighbor while he’s running around the block, or drinking a beer with the girl next door sitting on your window sill. You never know. So put yourself out there (yeah, it sounds hilarious given the circumstances), and be the wink, the friendly gaze, or the quick wave that will make someone’s day. It will be worth it.

 

Cover: Anna Shvets

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