Part 3 of The House Fire
At a time of crisis much mental energy can be spent in asking the unanswerable What-ifs …
Following on from the previous two posts, some further reflections about this intense time.
OPEN HOUSE INSPECTIONS
I have never been in a position of looking for a rental property on the open market. Due to living in smaller country towns, my work having housing available with the position, then becoming a home-owner, I have never attended open-house inspections systematically … until now, helping out our three young people.
Peculiar to these Covid times (additional to providing name and number to the estate agents showing people through) was the knowledge that personal details would be used in the event that contact-tracing was necessary (something people the world over are getting used to, for many public-space situations); and the limit of people allowed at any one time, necessitating longer waits than usual. The crisp, sunny, autumnal weather was perfect for standing outside and I nodded to other people waiting as we waited.
The fact that we were all giving our names and numbers gave a feeling of collegiality, strengthened by the way we were all going to the same listings at the same time on the same day. By the fourth house I found myself looking out for the Persian couple, the pregnant Caucasian couple and the Vietnamese family … just to make sure they didn’t miss out! I realised this was a strange reaction as we were, in actuality, in competition with each other for who would get the house (for after all, only one combination could fit each property); and I knew I wouldn’t see these people again (except for maybe on another day of house inspections in the same location and price-range), so they were all peripheral to my life. Yet the synchronised movement of us all felt like a dance, and these other contenders in the rhythm of life were my dance-partners. (I did manage to resist my first reaction of including them in our coffee orders, collected as we waited outside for our turn to view the interior; this could have been a construed as a bit too
This new experience reinforced two things about me: how unaccustomed I am to doing such an activity as this, and my modus operandi of inclusivity and positivity.
SHOPPING AT THE MARKETPLACE
Between furniture-runs and other admin jobs we did some runs to the local shopping mall for food and shopping. The food court had its tables taped off with danger tape, preventing people sitting down in these Covid-cautious times. This did little to prevent us from inadvertently mingling with others, however, as it was impossible to stay 1.5 metres distant from the other shoppers: the waiting area for food was simply not big enough, and the central shop stands in the “corridors” of the mall made it impossible to pass oncoming people with enough space, even in single file. (Maybe it would work if these passages were made one-way, even though it would be less convenient for shoppers. Even then it would only work if everyone walked at the same speed.)
Many more people wear face-masks in the city compared to what I’ve observed in the country, yet I’m not convinced the virus isn’t spreading in an environment such as a closed-in shopping mall. Factor in our visits to the Marketplace, the distances we travelled, the 3 suburbs and 1 country town we got out in (none of which were in the “danger zones” with confirmed cases) … are our actions a prelude to an upcoming post?
A 3-tonne truck is the largest vehicle that can be driven with an ordinary car licence in Victoria: I, for one, would not want to drive it without having had some trucking experience! It may be smaller than the fire trucks I’ve driven in the past (for which I hold a Medium Rigid licence), but it’s been at least 5 years since I’ve driven a truck. However, the tips and trucks of truck driving are the same, and my previous training and experience kicked in when I sat in the driver’s seat of the vehicle substantially larger than my car.
My confidence in driving has increased from this experience: driving a truck makes me a better car-driver. My confidence in estimation of space (which I traditionally think is not in my skills base) and packing ability has also increased: it makes me wonder about myself … if I can actually do these things, yet I don’t because I think I can’t … what else am I hesitating in, not attempting from lack of confidence, that I would actually succeed in?
My son and his house-mates now have all their belongings at their new place. It’s a compact house, complete with a welcoming outdoor area fenced in with shade cloth, opening onto a large back yard with 3 established fruit trees and a vegetable garden planted by the previous tenants. With less than a week of residence the real estate agent and landlord have already proved responsive.
The large pile of stuff in the carport is slowly getting arranged into the house – except for the fridge which won’t fit through their narrow doors, so it’s currently in the lovely outdoor patio area. They are enjoying setting up their new space and we get texts from our boy to update us on what’s where. There will be further admin and tasks to come for a while, I’m aware of that, but the crisis time is over.
I can now close the lid on my mental and emotional overload: I’ve contributed my part and done it well, aware that without my efforts some aspects of this situation would have been much harder for our young people. I know our local situation pales into significance against many others, like wartime and natural disasters, and I’m not comparing our stress to that experienced by people in these situations. Nevertheless the response has been the same, albeit at a much smaller scale: our family community (inclusive of our friends) has banded together and worked hard to help our people in need, with positive results. I’m grateful that I not only have the skills that can help in a situation like this, but also the opportunity. Equally, I’m grateful that I not only have the opportunity to help in a situation like this, but also beneficial skills.
Now I get to sit back and enjoy watching our impressive young adults move on with purpose, once more empowered in themselves to move on from a crisis situation and into the bounty of what’s to come.