On my last day out in civilization before becoming a COVID-19 hermit, I went around Calgary to see what it looked like. I started by walking around my neighbourhood.
I passed by a playground and I noticed that it was wrapped with “DO NOT ENTER” tape all around it. I wondered what else was closed to the public. As I left the playground, I saw a few people working out in the outdoor gym. I thought that wasn’t the safest form of distancing but at least they were not in an enclosed gym. I made my way to the airport and saw that the majority of flights were cancelled. Some people were wearing masks but it was mostly empty.
Man collects his baggage at airport while wearing mask and gloves. Photo: Ricardo Gracia
As I exited the airport, there was a sign warning the public about a global shortage of sanitizer and the importance of washing their hands. I immediately thought about how there probably is enough sanitizer for everyone but it is being hoarded in some basements. I felt panic and a sense of dirtiness. I then headed to a grocery store to see if I could find any sanitizer for myself.
Doors at stores are closed to control traffic. Photo: Ricardo Gracia
As I walked up to the store I saw one entrance was closed off, the carts were all outside and the majority of people were wearing gloves and masks. I headed to the toiletries aisle and indeed there was no sanitizer. I walked around and could not find toilet paper nor canned foods. I kept imagining mobs in my head. I used the grocery store’s washroom to clean my hands and continued my field trip. I stopped by another grocery store and their inventory was just as sparse as the first one. I did, however, find some really nice signs on the floor to aid in the physical distancing.
The hospital was my next stop but I was not willing to go inside. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Next to the hospital is an elderly living facility. The home was closed off to all visitors, with signs placed around the parking lot to warn them off.
Expressways nearly deserted, with road signs telling Calgarians to take care. Photo: Ricardo Gracia
While on the road, big signs warning people to wash their hands were lit up. Signs thanking public servants could also be seen. The traffic was light yet the sky was beautiful as the sun started to set.
My last stop was downtown Calgary. This was a Saturday night and normally downtown is lively. Instead, all the restaurants and bars were closed. The long lines outside the Commonwealth club were nowhere to be seen and the only people I saw were police and the residents of the streets. Even the busiest McDonalds on Stephen Ave. was closed. Some of the most trafficked weekend streets were also empty. So was the parking garage in front of National on 10th.
10 pm Saturday night on Stephen Ave. in downtown Calgary. Photo: Ricardo Gracia
On this excursion I saw scenes which I never thought I would ever see. The world looks different now. I wonder how much this will affect the future of our civilization. And I wonder when will things go back to normal?
Photo: Ricardo Gracia