a peek inside the fishbowl

24 Mar, 2020


Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life

It’s interesting how much we think about contagion now. I think about it when I press the button to cross the street, touch the handle of a donation bin as I drop a bag of clothing inside, touch anything. I even thought about whether I needed gloves to handle the grocery bags that were loaded into our car yesterday. (In the end, I did put on gloves. Mark and the youngest unloaded them and washed their hands afterwards.)

On Twitter I mentioned picking up garbage while on our daily walk outdoors. I thought this was such a productive, community-minded thing to do. In response I got a couple of warnings about catching something. I seriously doubt that there is coronavirus lurking on the Tim Horton’s cup that was buried under four feet of snow all winter. Besides, if/when I pick up litter I would wear gardening gloves and use our garbage-picking claw anyway.

Another time I talked about resurrecting the lost art of letter-writing. Again, people responded with trepidation. For the record, postage stamps are self-adhesive now. But the envelopes? Maybe postcards are safer.

Another time I wrote about dropping books off at a mini-library. You know the ones that people put on their front lawns, for neighbours to take a book or leave a book? Most people thought this was a bad idea.

The coronavirus story is changing on an hourly basis, so it’s hard to be confident about how we move around in the world right now. But maybe it’s better to be safe than sorry, right?


3 Responses to "Contagion"

1 | Amy

March 24th, 2020 at 9:56 pm


The quandary about grocery bags and where the contagion ends was concerning me the other day.
Every item in the grocery order has been touched by multiple people – first when taking it out of a bigger package, then putting it on a shelf, then someone picking it for your order, and possibly someone else scanning and putting it into the bags. Even if you pick your own groceries, there’s still stockers, the cashier, and if other customers have touched items or the POS machine since it was last disinfected. And if someone is using cash then you have multiple people’s germs on that too. Basically, I’ve decided not to think about it too much, because it’s freaking me out.

I read in an article that in China they found most of the spreading happens in family / friends / co-worker groups, so hopefully that speaks well for random grocery store encounters…

2 | Lynn

March 26th, 2020 at 11:37 am


I just got back from a Costco run and this kind of thing was in my mind the whole way, and when I got back home. I washed my hands before unloading the car, and then after putting the groceries away, but my family will be touching all that stuff within a day, so what was the point? I touched the steering wheel of the car on the way home, should I sterilize it? Should I wash out our grocery bins now?

UGH. I have decided some small amount of risk during shopping and being outside has to slide or else I will go mad.

3 | andrea tomkins

March 26th, 2020 at 2:23 pm


I watched a whole video that was sent to me about this… how to deal with groceries when you bring them home. The problem is there is so much conflicting information out there! I’m like you, being cautious yet accepting some risk. Sigh.

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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