Keeping My Distance While Going Out

My usual habit is to gang my errands so I spend as little time as possible driving back and forth between West Tisbury and Vineyard Haven, West Tisbury and Oak Bluffs. (My treks to Edgartown and Chilmark are almost entirely for library events, meetings, and social events, all of which are off for the duration.)

This habit is serving me well in the age of social distancing. We’re supposed to avoid non-essential travel, but “essential” is a somewhat slippery term. I deemed two of the items on my to-do list as essential, so on Wednesday afternoon off I went.

First stop was the West Tisbury post office, where I picked up mail and gave silent thanks to the valiant post office crew who are on duty serving the public. I noticed that the handful of people in line to pick up parcels were not exactly six feet apart, but these are close quarters and I trust my townsfolk to wash their hands when they get home.

Next stop was the air machine at the gas station in Vineyard Haven. Malvina Forester’s right front tire has a slow leak so the low-tire-pressure light comes on every couple of weeks. The nozzle must be touched by multiple hands in the course of a day, so of course I would thoroughly wash my hands when I got home — and not rub my eyes or stick my finger in my mouth between now and then.

Truth to tell, I don’t know if I touched my face in any way between “now” and “then” because (like most people) I do this without thinking several times a day. I’m trying to be more conscious of this, but I’m not there yet.

On the way to Oak Bluffs, I cruised through the hospital parking lot in search of new license plates. Not only was there nothing new, few of the frequently seen exotics (e.g., Louisiana and Montana) were there either, and my impression was that there were somewhat fewer vehicles in the various lots than usual. I did see a Tilton Tents truck and workers setting up a small tent outside one of the side entrances to the ER.

There were definitely fewer vehicles parked on Circuit Ave. The lower end, where the bars and eateries are, was mostly vacant. I found a parking place in front of Reliable (not unusual this time of year). Inside, there were noticeable gaps on the shelves and in the coolers, especially where the non-perishables live. The only thing on my list that I couldn’t find was frozen chopped spinach, which I use when making quiche, but I’ve still got one package in my freezer and besides I can make quiche without it.

On the way out of town I passed Good Dog Goods and wondered if they were open: Tam could use a limited-slip (martingale) collar. (After I got home, a post from GDG noted that they would take orders by phone and deliver the merchandise curbside. They didn’t have quite what I was looking for so I’ve retrieved Trav’s limited-slip, washed it, and hung it out to dry. It fits Tam perfectly.)

On the way home, we swung by the dog park, which is back in the woods and big and uncrowded enough that it’s easy for people to keep a reasonably safe distance. Tam’s been really good with a variety of other dogs up to this point, but not this time: he got into a dust-up with another dog who, like him, is an intact male. We separated them with no harm done, I took Tam into the (vacant) small dog area so he could chase tennis balls and interact through the fence with the other dogs, but I’ve been looking for a sign that it’s time to get Tam neutered and this might be it.

Back at home I did indeed wash my hands very thoroughly. Hand-washing does not come naturally to me. In my horsegirl days, someone might bring pizza or treats to the barn and we’d all chow down, never mind we’d been grooming horses or mucking stalls a few minutes before. My vet says that when she was in school they’d be eating donuts during anatomy class and that was worse. I can imagine . . .


About Susanna J. Sturgis

Susanna edits for a living, writes to survive, and has been preoccupied with electoral politics since 2016. She just started a blog about her vintage T-shirt collection: "The T-Shirt Chronicles." Her other blogs include "From the Seasonally Occupied Territories," about being a year-round resident of Martha's Vineyard, and "Write Through It," about writing, editing, and how to keep going.
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7 Responses to Keeping My Distance While Going Out

  1. Shirley W. Mayhew says:

    I liked this!


  2. Helen says:

    Whenever nurses have lunch- it’s nothing to be discussing details and eating away.
    Just listening to the idiot in chief and I cannot stomach his referral of the Covid virus as the “Chinese” Virus. How does he get away this.
    Thank goodness you didn’t say you saw New York license plates in the hospital parking a lot. The island would have gone MAD!


    • Love this!! Thx, Helen. O ye on the front lines, stay sane and stay safe, or at least try!


      • Helen says:

        Thank Susanna. I have to say the Admin of the hospital is so aggressively on top of it. All hands on deck. I work with a nurse who comes from off island and works at another hospital off island and she says the Vineyard is way ahead of her other hospital.


  3. Susan Holmes says:

    Is your vet clinic still doing routine procedures like neutering? Since some residents here have tested positive for Covid-19 (which I’m mentally calling it the Voldemort Virus), some vets are handling urgent care needs.


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