Patricia Mdingi sells a variety of masks from basic to bling at the Workshop market in Durban. We are not in the clear just yet, so keep wearing your mask and practice social distancing.
Patricia Mdingi sells a variety of masks from basic to bling at the Workshop market in Durban. We are not in the clear just yet, so keep wearing your mask and practice social distancing.

Kindness and crinkly eyes will carry us through

Time of article published Oct 17, 2020

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By Lindsay Slogrove

Okay, listen up, compadres.

Big picture: things are looking dire, miserable and hopeless.

Little picture: we are a wonderful people who help each other the minute we know someone needs help and we are able to do so. We are kind.

Last week I wrote about a man who identified himself only as “Checkers 60”, who stopped at the side of a road to try to help my niece Tyane, and her dad, Sean, who had a massive heart attack.

Later, we tried googling and searching Twitter to see if it was a person’s handle, but we couldn’t find a personal link to thank him again. There were only Checkers60 sites for the chain’s delivery service.

Now we know his name is Jeffery, who works for the supermarket in the area, because he saw the family’s Facebook post about Sean’s funeral, and went to the service to pay his respects.

That “little picture” tale is another thread of the story of us, the people who call this country home, and care about each other.

While “big picture” people stoke fear, division, hatred, racism and anger among many of us for their own power-seeking ends, this little story shows people on the ground are better than that. Jeffrey is a black man who stopped to help a white man and his daughter.

It says we are good people, and if we could harness that en masse, reach a critical mass of good, the darker forces in our country could be outnumbered and sidelined.

Another “little picture” of unexpected kindness from this week. While personally still on lockdown level 5, forays into shops have been strictly limited to essentials.

On one of these trips, to a store that’s not my regular, I saw a special on a favourite item that had soared in price and I’d stopped buying. When I got to the till, I realised the special was only valid to holders of the reward card, which I didn’t have.

When the cashier and I discussed this, the woman behind me stepped in and offered me the use of her card, so I would get the discount. Yes, it didn’t cost her anything, but it was the thoughtfulness and kindness that lifted my heart. It was a lovely gesture.

In this age of Covid, one of the primary signals of care for one another is visible: wearing a mask.

They’re bloody horrible and uncomfortable and steam up glasses and make general conversation difficult. Thankfully, the mask has not become a political symbol in South Africa like it has in the US and some European countries, where the virus is currently raging; still, in the case of America; again, in parts of Europe.

We’re doing better, but here’s an opinion: it’s not going away. Hopes of super-rushed vaccines or the myth of herd immunity will be dashed. There are a growing number (tiny, but increasing) of people getting it twice, sometimes worse than their first bout.

Our path to living with this disease long-term relies on simple, small acts of kindness from everyone: wear your mask, avoid crowds, wash your hands and keep 2m (or as much space as you can) between you and others.

And start smiling broadly again – when your eyes crinkle, you’re sending a kindness message to your fellow Saffers.

  • Slogrove is the news editor

The Independent on Saturday

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