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  • Robert Lynch

A World in Lockdown

Technically, Australia isn’t in lockdown; we are under “No non-essential travel.” With the government-mandated shutdown of hospitality work, entertainment work, fitness work, and places of worship; I have never felt so appreciative of my crappy night job. Nearly half of Australians will see disruption in their work over the next 6-18 months, but I am unlikely to be one of those.

I am very lucky.

I’m not going to stop calling it my crappy night job. Nothing has changed, except that I have fewer customers and much more cleaning to do in my shift. It’s still a crappy night job.

In my routine, very little has changed. I have to admit that there is more anxiety around than before, and it owns a permanent part of my brain. I see many people every day, and one of them could infect me, even people I don’t see could infect me by leaving the virus on a surface before I even get to work. The chance of that happening is low, more than if I stayed at home, less than if I was a health worker; like my brother.

Even if I were to get infected, I know the numbers. Australia has a very good health care system, and we are miles away from hitting capacity, so the horror scenarios that some of the worst affected countries isn’t likely to happen here. As yet, our mortality rate is incredibly low; so if I were infected, I would probably feel shitty for a while, then get better. Even if I were to be one of the unlucky under 60-year-olds to need more intensive health care, I would have to be incredibly unlikely to need a ventilator, and even more unlucky to die.

It’s not my own mortality that owns my brain. It’s my regular customers; people I see every day who still come in to buy the physical newspaper or to get a coffee. More often than not they pay with cash, which means they have to get very close to me. No matter how much I try to distance myself, most of them put the money directly into my hand and literally touch my hand in doing so.

There are asymptomatic carriers out there. I have no way of knowing if the 80-year-old who bought the paper from me just caught the virus from me. I feel fine. I have no symptoms at all.


I try not to wear gloves at work because I sanitise my hands between customers if I’m not wearing gloves, but if I am wearing gloves, I might pass the virus from one customer to another. I could kill a person because I was wearing gloves. I might never get the virus yet pass it on. I could catch it and bring it home to my housemates. All of my grandparents have been gone for a long time, but my parents are about to hit 60, what if they get it?

This is what I mean. Maybe it’s just that my brain is stupid. Since this outbreak began, a portion of my brain has been owned by these thoughts. And the truth is there is no way to be 100% safe. No way to keep others 100% safe.

That’s life, I suppose. We don’t get to control things.

I’ve already noticed a difference in my behaviour. I’m buying take out more. I’m eating more sugar. I’m drinking more. Since I can’t control the universe, I can control whether or not I eat more chocolate or drink more whisky (ironically both of those will make my own immune response worse). I may not be going out and licking random things, but I’m not making the smartest of decisions either.

There are things I can control. I can make sure I keep up my daily content. I can finish Solar Flare Volume 2 this week. I make more progress the next Frank Mason story. And most importantly, I can try to get out of my head. Inside there is a stupid place.