Measuring social separation.

We should all applaud the ingenuity of cashiers and others in their efforts to maintain social separation at this difficult time.

The prize for the most ingenious solution should go to a clerk in an Ontario Beer Store. (Yes, that’s what we call them here: The Beer Store.) Frankly, not one of these 450 or so stores in Ontario will ever win a design award. This is a recently built store and they actually have one cash directly behind another. The clerk was standing at the first cash directing customers to the second cash. There were lines on the floor there that were two metres apart going all the way back into the refrigerated warehouse, where you had (hopefully?) found your beer. The clerk had rigged a cardboard tray on a pulley system so that he could operate the first cash while serving the customer at the second cash—payment by credit or debit card only.

I think this is the hardest part of the covid-19 pandemic. Canadians do not trust their plastic five, ten, twenty and fifty-dollar bills to be free of the virus. It is just that when our circulated 100-dollar bills often test positive for traces of cocaine, it is no wonder we are suspicious.

But how can a business refuse to accept cash for what is normally a cash transaction? They always used to be delighted with cash. It lacks the stigma of the charges for using cards. Even if you have to dip the bills in a disinfectant, the savings are worth it.

And what is the big deal with returns? Nobody wants returns anymore. Even the Beer Store tells you to keep your booze bottles and cans until some unknown date. And all other stores are also telling you to keep your returns until some unknown date in the future. My wife, who spends almost as much time on returning as she does on shopping, is going to crowd us out of our home, if this lasts too long.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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