The day of the announcement of partial lockdown in Malaysia, 16th March 2020
It’s Monday. I woke up feeling pumped up to tackle the week. No negative thought whatsoever, positivity all over my body. This week is my time to shine! I’ve had enough trial weeks already this year. Until a colleague whispered to me.
“Psst hey, have you done grocery shopping already?”. Oh well no, I was planning to get them tonight. Why, I asked. And that’s when I was told in a very secretive-panicky-sound-but-shhh-don’t-panic way, “Lockdown. The Government is going to announce it soon, in a day or two. Before everyone gets panic, go buy your necessities first.”
I was conflicted. I knew about panic buying and this sounded like the beginning to a panic buying spree and I didn’t want to be the one initiated / contributed to it. However, I did plan to do grocery shopping anyway as there was barely any edible in my fridge. So I thought my colleague’s right – before everyone got panic, it’s better for me to do my weekly grocery shopping routine and perhaps get some other necessities for the possible lockdown. And with such self-assurance that I was not panic, I went to the nearest store at lunch time.
Okay, there were not so many people. It was Monday just like any other day after all. Until I squinted my eyes, looked a bit closer… and I realised that the stock in the canned food section was a bit less than usual. So was the Maggi section. Ohhh and other people though seemed very calm were pushing their almost full carts to the counters, looking more purposeful than usual. Yes, something’s not right.
But nahh most probably it’s nothing. I should just get my planned grocery shopping done. But maybe… maybe… as I was already here… I should get some extra necessities, you know, in case things went wrong. Just… in case. So my mind started thinking frantically about the necessities that I should get at times like this.
Now if you know me, you’d know I live for the end of the world. I’ve watched all of the apocalypse movies and I know what to do. I’d be the bad ass one who could shoot any zombie coming my way. I’d be the one who’s going to protect others. I’d know where to find shelter. I’d be the main character. But there was nowhere in that wildest dreams of mine that I’ve ever thought about getting food. At all.
Okay now I was panic. If there was in fact going to be a lockdown, I don’t actually know how to feed myself sufficiently. Sigh I guessed it’s best to just follow the crowd. So I grabbed a pack of Maggi Kari and Indomie. And two small cans of Sardines. I knew this wasn’t going to last me long but a part of me kept reminding myself that I wasn’t panic buying, there was no need to get more than I should. I was just being a sensible lady that’s trying to feed herself with no cooking skill.
Maggi Kari, checked. Indomie, checked. Sardines, checked. Next, what should I get?
I went from aisle to aisle. Still thinking hard on the necessary food items to get and also recalling the list of grocery that I had made in my head during my morning drive. I stood there for what felt like eternity. Dumfounded. With nothing came to my mind.
Tired and defeated, I took two packs of Oreo and a small pack of Milo. I thought to myself, even if there was a lockdown, at least I could twist, lick, dunk the Oreo into a cup of hot Milo. The greatest combo.
I proceeded to the cashier.
Second Day of the Movement Restriction Order, 19th March 2020
I laughed at myself when I went out of the store that noon of 16th March with only two packs of instant noodles, two small cans of sardines, two packs of Oreos and the smallest pack of Milo. Not even any item on my mental list of weekly grocery. Messed up priorities.
Because the store that I went was not filled with people, it’s just like any other normal day so little did I know that at that second and hours after that, people around Malaysia were filling up their carts in supermarkets and convenience stores in fear of the lockdown rumour. Except for it wasn’t exactly a rumour as that same night, the Prime Minister announced of the Movement Restriction Order.
Now reality hits me. Real hard.
I am a big fan of fiction books and sci fi movies about natural disasters and apocalypse (not saying this virus is our apocalypse) that I become desensitized to the fact that these could be my reality. I know natural disasters and wars are happening around the world but because these are not happening to me, reading news on these feel otherworldly unreal. I was aware of the gravity of Covid-19 and its impact to people in China and Italy, amongst others, but then again, it’s happening far away from home.
How oblivious and ignorant I was.
Here’s the things that I learned from my personal fiasco above:-
- I did not use social media much and did not even read the news, my Covid-19 updates came from people around me. Don’t be like me. Read the news for yourself and verify the information that you receive before acting on it or passing it around- use these two weeks at home to instil the habit of reading and validating news. It may be depressing to read all these but I learned from my mistakes, it’s important to keep myself updated with the current situation.
- I do not approve my rush and unwise behaviour of going out to the store without first doing any prior research, information validation or planning. Don’t be like me. First, do not go out at all unless it is necessary. Stay at home. Second, if you need to get grocery, be considerate and rational. Take only what is necessary. Nothing more.
- Also not too little. Oreo? Messed up priorities. Don’t be like me. Plan your groceries and meals. Without proper planning before going out into the store, you could end up like me- exposing yourself unneccesary standing and going around for too long deciding on what to get.
- This is not a sci fi movie. This is our life. Things are happening for real. Don’t be like me. Do not take things lightly.
Don’t be like me. Be a responsible citizen. We’re at uncertain times as we’re at war with the unseen; the virus. So let’s put aside all of our differences, we have one common enemy – let’s fight it the way we should; stay put at home and use common sense.
Perhaps this is the time to reflect and count our blessings in life that we’ve taken for granted for too long.