The pandemic has ensured that we celebrate the anniversary of things that didn’t happen last year. For instance, it has been a whole year since I took a flight anywhere. I always land up at the airport a full two hours before I need to, which means three or four hours before the flight. This ensures that I am the first to hear of cancellations, delays, or reroutings (and the last to come to terms with it).
I haven’t wasted time like that for a year. It also means that when, on the next flight, the steward begins to talk about what to do in the unlikely event of the plane landing on water, I will have to listen. A year is enough time to forget things. I know you pull something and blow a whistle, and if there is a child sitting nearby you do all these in a specific order, but I have forgotten now.
Another lesson to relearn would be this business of shaking hands. Do I grab the other person’s hand by the fingers or palm, or do I extend my arm till his elbow and give it a good shake? What do I do with my non-shaking hand during all this time? Maybe there are instructions on YouTube.
Other things forgotten in the past year (unhappy anniversaries) are: how to knot a tie, wear shoes or shave. But in return, I have learnt how to cut my own hair and read three books simultaneously.
When we finally meet in office rooms, I will probably be surprised to see that other folk have body parts beyond the face and upper half. Zoom has tricked me into believing that only I am built whole, and the rest of the world is only half my size. Also, there is no mute button on conference tables. How will I ever get used to that?
It would be true to say that I haven’t driven a car in one year, but that’s only partially true. Actually, I have never driven a car at all, and the pandemic has not discovered any hidden driverly talents. You forget many things, but you do not remember things you never did. Unfair, I know, but there it is. So I continue to be a disaster as the domestic Mr Fixit. Changing a light bulb continues to be one of those things I still haven’t a gift for.
I know how machines heavier than air are able to fly and why ships as large as cities don’t sink. But I have forgotten how to flag a taxi or what to do on entering a lift. I hope relearning doesn’t take as long as unlearning.