'Stay safe' - the new bye-bye for unprecedented times

Dessie Blackadder


Dessie Blackadder

IT was on Thursday of last week that I first became truly aware of a hugely significant change in our social habits.

And before you jump in, it wasn't the wearing of masks or the collecting of toilet rolls (anyone who lived through the 70s will have witnessed roll hoarding and candle collecting way back in the days of strikes and chaos).

It was the very simple and subtle change to our language.

The familiar and let's face it, meaningless, 'bye bye' had been replaced with a new parting phrase for these unprecedented times.

'Stay safe' was the phrase on everyone's lips as they went on their way.

There haven't been many people wearing fully fledged anti-virus masks on the streets of Ballymena but you can see that people settling into a new regime of keeping their distance.

Obviously the main topic of conversation was Covid-19 with many still ready and willing to share their opinions as they elbow bumped into friends while traversing the town's streets and shopping malls.

And it is highly unlikely that anyone, anywhere has the answer to the most asked question of them all: "Just when is this going to end?"

There is a bemused look on people's faces. In good old Ballymena terms they don't know whether to laugh or cry.

At this (relatively) early stage, you can still see people sharing a joke about the hot topics of the day .. where the new hand sanitisers can be found or who has the new supply of paracetemol.

But there are also reports, as you can see by the letter at the bottom of this page, of bad tempers and selfishness.

When such behaviour affects medical and pharmacy it really hits a nerve but let us not forget the staff working in retail outkets - especially in the grocery sector - who are also dealing with an increased level of ‘thran-ness’.

Social media is awash with tales of bad behaviour and that has to stop if we are to get through the next few weeks .. and months .. in half decent shape as a society.

I liked the comment from Ballymena woman Jackie Neill who had just returned from a supermarket visit.

She said: “Just been to Lidl in Ballymena at 10am this morning. Met at the door by a very pleasant security man who was informing younger shoppers that the shop was closed til 11. Got all I needed - I refuse to stockpile! Thank you Lidl and your ever so lovely security officer!”

Be kind was the watchword a few weeks ago and there has never been a better time to show consideration for others than right now.

And perhaps the biggest act of kindness is to avoid all unnecessary contact, stay home and .. of course .. stay safe.

We at the Ballymena Guardian will be doing all we can to keep you informed at this stressful time.

Any news or pictures you may have can be sent to us via editor@ballymenaguardian.co.uk

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