March 31: Day six of living in lock-down…
This time I managed to sleep a little longer and the alarm woke me at the pre-set time: 6.55am. Then remembered I was working a later shift and could’ve slept in. Oh well, there are things to do at home. Next time I look at the clock I have an hour and a half before my first client. Shitski! (As they say in Russia.) I better get a move on: it’ll take me 45 mins to get through traffic to get into town–
— then stop myself. I remember. It’s the New Reality. The roads are near-empty: there is no traffic.
I drive past the Kiwirail Park N Ride: four cars. Twice as many as yesterday.
On a main road; this motorhome;
I’m fairly certain it wasn’t there yesterday.
At 8.30 tonight, as I drove past, it was still parked there. It will be interesting to see if it remains in-situ for the next three weeks.
Head into town. On the motorway, I’m looking at what little traffic there is. It’s a different time of the day than yesterday morning but it seems there may be a few more vehicles on the road. Certainly more commercial ones.
Just the ones I can identify travelling in my direction (the ones coming from opposite are harder to make out as they whizz past me) are; Farmlands (some sort of rural supplier); Dzign; a Chubb van; The Service Company van; BOC/Linde Group; four trucks hauling shipping containers (food? medicine? whiskey? – now that’s essential!!); a ute marked with a “Programmed” company logo; Mobile On Site Shredding Company (I kid you not – obviously essential for someone wanting some quick shredding of
evidence unwanted documents); three Mainfreight trucks; two Chemdry vans (an obviously *essential* service); six road working trucks, marked “Capital Journeys” and Fulton Hogan near the Petone intersection; Ablaze (firewood) truck; a large red coca cola* truck; “Argus”…
From the Hutt to the Terrace Tunnel, I spot one police car (tailing me – are one of my lights out? Then it turns off) and a police motorbike near the Ngauranga Intersection. I love the police motorbikes – they bring back nostalgic memories of old MoT motorcycle cops. In Vivian Street, where the Chow Brothers had their
brothel gentlemen’s club until recently (windows now boarded up, For Lease sign on the front) there are three police cars parked around another vehicle. A policewoman is taking photos.
I hope it’s because the driver was caught breaking “social distancing” and not something trivial like selling marijuana.
Again, the city is (mostly) empty. Some streets look like scenes from The Quiet Earth. Others have a light Christmas Day-like flow of a few vehicles. The day is fining up after a gray start; there are walkers and joggers around.
I decide to take an alternate route to the Eastern Suburbs, around the bays. Normally I avoid the route as it gets clogged with traffic. But New Reality, eh? (What will we do after three weeks if/when we beat this bastard virus and lift the Lock-down? How will we suddenly deal with a return to the Old Reality of slow moving traffic congestion?)
I have time to stop and check the main Oriental Bay Beach and it’s smaller “clone”, next to Freyberg Pool. The latter is empty, the former, has three or four people in the distance walking along;
‘Little’ Oriental Beach
Main Oriental Beach
Certainly not the crowds mentioned over the weekend.
Along Oriental Bay Parade and into Evans Bay Parade there are pedestrians strolling and joggers. Some observe the 2 metre rule, some do not. People still seem to be struggling with the new footpath etiquette.
As I near my first client, at about 12.30pm, I hear over the radio that the State of Emergency has been extended by a week. Does this mean self-isolation in our “bubbles” will be a week longer? (No, they are separate from each other, as Robert Reid from First Union informs me using Twitter.)
After my first client, I head further east toward Miramar. Along Cobham Drive leading toward the airport, I am the only car on the long, straight stretch of road. Until I see two vehicles in my rear-view mirror approach. They are moving at some speed, and pass me rapidly. They’re racing each other. I get only one of the rego plates – FBT 379 – a European import. BMW? Merc? The other car is long gone by the time I read the six characters on the rego plate.
At the far end, near the roundabout, I glance over to the road leading to the airport. It is deserted. Deserted as in: no cars at all. With little air traffic, the only vehicles now using that stretch would be residents driving to and from their homes, or the odd commercial vehicle. The residents of Kilbirnie, Strathmore, and Miramar must be getting their first nights of decent sleep within living memory.
Later that night, on the way home, I stop at Kilbirnie Pak N Save again. I’m loathe to go to supermarkets, but this time I need to top up my own supplies. The first thing I notice is that there is a new type of rubbish on the ground;
Ironically, with the closure of fast food takeouts and coffee shops, there are fewer coffee cups and lids, straws, and milkshake containers around – only to be replaced by discarded latex gloves. What is it with some human beings – are they genetically programmed to litter?!
At the check-out, there is still 2 metre social distancing but customers are sparse. Note to self: do shopping late in the evening! And on the shelf, dumped by a customer who perhaps had had second thoughts – toilet paper! A stack of three twelve-packs!
Yes, toilet paper is no longer in vogue…
At the checkout, I’m served by a young man who looks tired and perhaps he wishes he was elsewhere. After hearing on RNZ Checkpoint about the vicious abuse thrown at supermarket checkout operators by some nasty types, I thank him for his service. I add, “You’re doing well, good on you, mate.”
He barely acknowledges me. He’s tired alright – I hope he sleeps soundly tonight.
Back on road, the city streets have minimal traffic. Mostly cars. The motorway is again empty, and when there’s no other lights of cars in sight, I’m a ‘Bruno Lawrence/Charlton Heston/Will Smith’ inhabiting an empty city. The illusion is thankfully broken when the lights of occasional cars or commercial vehicles pass.
At Waitomo in Thorndon I stop and fill up my car. With everything happening; the lock down; the State of Emergency; looking out for my clients; wondering if today I ‘catch the bullet’ – I’ve utterly forgotten to even glance at the car’s fuel gauge. Luckily it’s just under a quarter full.
The fuel price is $1.86 a litre. “Z” is still at around $1.94. Which is hard to fathom as oil prices are at their lowest in eighteen years. As we all know, prices at the pump are quick to rise… and infuriatingly slow to fall. (My next waka WILL be electric!)
On the way home, driving along the Hutt motorway, I pass a sole police car and then two ambulances heading south. No flashing lights. For some reason, I feel uneasy as they pass me.
At home, a few mundane minor house chores are done. Cat fed. Power bill paid on-line. This blogpost completed.
I’m missing my partner. The temptation is there to meet her at the Lyall Bay foreshore, though keeping a safe 2 metre distance. No hugging or walking hand in hand, enjoying a brisk Wellington evening ‘zephyr’. Which is about as much fun as drinking caffeine-free coffee or alcohol-free wine. I.e., not much.
I check my emails. There’s one from the office; there is now available a few face masks and small bottle of hand sanitiser for each of us. I smile when I read it. My company was woefully unprepared for this pandemic.
But to be fair, so was 99% of Aotearoa New Zealand.
Number of deaths: 1
* Re the Coca Cola truck: yesterday (30 March) I made a Lock-down Diary entry about another large, red, coca cola-emblazoned truck on the motorway. I emailed Amatil NZ for a “Please Explain“. In what way were sugary soft drinks an essential product to be carting around the roads at this point in time?
This afternoon (31 March) I received a response from Amatil NZ’s Service and Sales;
Thank you for your email regarding our trucks out and about working hard over this lockdown period.
Coca-Cola Amatil New Zealand is considered an Essential Service by the New Zealand Government (MBIE). As such we are providing a delivery service to supermarkets and other stores, in order for them to retain necessary stocks including beverages such as water, juice and Powerade throughout the lockdown period.
Thank you for touching base with our team to clarify this, we are all in this together.
Please stay healthy and well.
Be safe – Kia haumaru.
Make of that what you will. (However I am assuredly more “healthy and well” since I stopped drinking their sugary beverages.)
Scoop Parliament: State of National Emergency extended
Mediaworks/Newshub: Coronavirus – Latest from around the world – Tuesday, March 31
Elemental: Hold the Line
Previous related blogposts
Acknowledgement: Rod Emmerson
This blogpost will be re-published on “Frankly Speaking“. Reader’s comments may be left here (The Daily Blog) or there (Frankly Speaking).
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