Those Awkward Pandemic Moments
COVID-19 creates plenty of awkward encounters. You know what I’m talking about.
Inspired by The Pillow-Book of Sei Shonagon
The invite said it’s a lunch meeting, but I’m the only one eating anything on the Zoom call. I made lo mein noodles and the sauce splatters on my keyboard as I slurp them into my mouth.
A woman walks her dog on the sidewalk ahead of me, slowly. Her dog is one of the small fluffy kinds, with short legs always rushing but not getting anywhere. I step into the street to go around her, but cars are coming so I swerve back onto the sidewalk. My sunglasses fog up again; I take them off, force the mask wire closer to my nose bridge, then put them back on. The woman slows down even more, but there’s a runner on the street now, so I wait.
Their connection is bad, every fourth of fifth word gets cut out. But I can still understand what they’re saying, and no one brings it up.
At the coffee shop, someone forgot their mask. They take off their jacket and hold it over their face when they talk to the barista, but they put it back on after paying.
My video looks really yellow compared to everyone else’s. I hope no one notices.
I walk back down the grocery aisle because I forgot to grab cheese. I’m going against the arrows on the ground, so I move quickly, secretly, trying my best to show my remorse and shame without the help of facial expressions. There is someone else near the cheese, moving the correct direction. They look away, mercifully. I whisper, Sorry, sorry, as I hasten toward the mozzarella.
There’s a man who calls into Zoom church every week with his camera showing only his forehead and a ceiling washed out by bright can lights.