The new norm

How has the new norm differed to your “old norm”?

On the day when we found out that my wife was pregnant for the first time in 2011, we altered our lifestyle almost drastically.

All of a sudden we became conscious about reducing the risk of my wife catching diseases from others. I’d always joked that it was then that we embarked on getting our MBBS from the University of Google, Wikipedia and WebMD. Till this day we still are.

Santisers were not fashionable back in 2010s, so we washed our hands frequently and used keys to press lift buttons and tissues for the stop button on the bus. When possible, we avoid taking the train during peak hours and use taxis; boy was it costly. We avoided getting too close with others in public and tuned our hearing to coughs and sneezes. As soon as we hear a cough and sneeze, we locate and walk the opposite direction from the source.

It may sound like we were somewhat paranoid, but we didn’t do anything that was socially unacceptable. We didn’t walk around in HazMat suits or putting on surgical masks. Mask wearing wasn’t a thing in Singapore before Covid became mainstream; even if you had the flu. It was (almost) an acceptable norm that you cough your lungs out in public without covering your mouth.

With the arrival Covid-19, new norms were legislated. Norms like keeping a safe distance from others, mask wearing, digital tracking, telecommuting, and many more.

Since we had a few years of experience in keeping a safe distance from others and frequent hand washing, it was the other norms that we had to make some effort to adapt and accept.

Mask wearing was on thing that was quite difficult. We adopted mask wearing before it was legislated. It was during a time before the supermarket raids started and masks were highly sought after. There was a huge demand and limited supply. The prices shot through the roof. The government resorted to advising citizens to wear a mask only if feeling unwell. By this time, my wife is already heavily pregnant with our 3rd child and we were not taking any risks. We had a few boxes of surgical masks stored even before the Covid-19 virus was called Wuhan virus.

We endured stares and even snide remarks from strangers when we went out to get groceries or for doctor’s appointment having our masks on. Faith in humanity was lost because all of a sudden, our decision to protect ourselves because of our situation was being scrutinized and mocked. We didn’t need a member of parliament to tell us how to protect our own lives. And we definitely didn’t need the permission of others to do so.

Now, masks wearing has been the new norm for a while now and I feel naked not wearing one in public.

The other new norm which I find both welcoming as well as difficult is telecommuting. I have only been in the workforce for close to 15 years and it widely accepted that being in the office equates to working; anywhere outside of the office during office hours equates to skiving or colloquialy known as eating snake 吃蛇. Thanks to covid, sitting in my boxer shorts at home during office hours working on the laptop is acceptable. It’s confusing and yet refreshing. And at times when stressful work situation arises, I wished I was at the office than at home because all of a sudden I dread being at home at that moment. The safe haven that provided the disconnect to work has been breached.

And last of all the weirdest norm for me is this; when getting a photo taken (with our masks on) and the photographer tell us, “look over here and smile!” 🤣

Published by ZED

Generation xennial dad trying to bring up 3 girls in this current messy world and keeping sane at the same time.

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