Note: This article was written in the midst of the Covid19 pandemic. In compliance with the national government’s directive, the city of Santa Rosa, Laguna has imposed an enhanced community quarantine and scheduled curfew. This is to give the readers more context on the narrative.
Last Monday, I went to the bank to settle a few transactions. Because we’re still on a community quarantine, I had to plan my bank errand – I know it’ll be another month or so before I do another errand like this.
The bank opens at 9:00 am so I made sure I was there two hours early. I also brought a good book – two hours is quite a long wait.
When I got there at 7:00 am, a man was already standing by the bank’s door, waiting. I stood behind him a meter away following the physical distancing protocol. Thirty minutes later, three women stood behind me and started chatting.
Great Morning, Indeed
Standing there, I was almost about to finish reading my book when I got so irritated by the events that followed:
- For some reason, the women behind me did not know what the words physical distancing or social distancing meant, because they kept brushing on my back. I was looking at them in such a way as to make it clear that they need to move further. However, it seems they were so engrossed with their conversation of the latest news about Covid19 related deaths, proclamations, and what-not, that they just kept getting closer to me.
I gave up and got myself out of the line – I move to the left to make sure they knew I was still ‘in line’. In spite of this, they were still oblivious that they were slowly inching their way towards me. It was quite an awkward and irritating scenario.
- They kept complaining about why the bank opens at 9:00 am. According to them, the line was already long, there were already tellers and employees inside, so the bank should open and provide service already.
- When the bank did open at 9:00 am, the first thing the security guard said was, “social distancing po, one-meter po tayo. Ayos lang po ng pila.” (Let’s follow social distancing, please have a meter’s distance from each other.) To which they replied, to my amusement, “si kuya (security goard) kanina pa sya nakatayo sa loob, dapat kanina pa nya tayo pinaayos e.” (The security has been standing there for hours. He should’ve done this an hour ago.)
Is it the Government’s Fault or Ours?
These complaints and comments made me think.
With the banter in social media, the pros and cons and antis and those in the middle, is there really a right or wrong side? And if there is, who’s right and who’s wrong? And how did I arrive at this question with just silly comments and complaints? Here’s how.
1. Just a Small Thing
One would think, this is just a small thing, people brushing on you in a line. You can just move and stay away.
But it’s not just a small thing.
Physical distancing is a serious mandate by our government and local authorities. People on TV, news, radio, celebrities and personalities in social media, have mentioned time and again to practice social distancing, which was later on changed to physical distancing.
My point is, I don’t think the government has erred or lacked in providing us information about the gravity of our situation. The information has been spread out and cascaded to make sure everybody understands the importance of staying at least one meter away from people.
We act as though the government’s efforts are in vain. We act as though it’s such a silly directive and still brush against people when we’re in line, when we walk on the streets.
I don’t think it’s the government’s fault anymore.
2. God is a God of Order
Before going to the bank, I made a few preparations myself. I picked a good book, set my alarm clock to 6:30 am, went to the bank’s website to double-check if they were really open and what time they were open that day.
The women behind me knew that the bank would be open at 9:00 am. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be there at such an early time of day.
Everybody in that line knew that the bank would open at 9:00 am.
Was it justifiable that because there were already a thousand people in line, the bank was dutybound to open early than what they announced? NO. They had a rule that the bank opens at 9:00 am. Just because people were already there, ready to be served, doesn’t mean the bank should adjust.
God is a God of order. Let us follow rules, not because it suits us, but because these rules keep the community in order.
3. Physical distancing is our responsibility.
It is not the security guard’s job to keep us in check whether we follow the one-meter rule. He was just doing it to keep us in order when we start entering the premises. The job and the responsibility to follow the rules is ours.
We need to do it, not because the government tells us so, not because we’ll be punished, but because we may fall sick, we may die, and much worse, we may spread the virus to other friends and family – this responsibility is ours.
Just like blaming everything to that poor security guard, we cannot blame everything to the government. We need to do our part as well. It’s ok to question, it’s ok to ask, it’s ok to investigate and air out our concerns. I do all these as well. And I’m not a fan of the administration either.
But I sincerely hope, in these trying times, that we do not take measures such as physical distancing and staying at home lightly. We may not know it, but we are saving many lives by following the law.