Flight from California amid COVID concerns

Sonja tells the story of her journey back to Canada just as the pandemic was starting last March

Across the Valley - Sonja Lester

Across the Valley - Sonja Lester

One year ago today I arrived back in Smithers. I had to make a fast decision to leave Redding, California because the news was full of imminent travel restrictions. March the 14th I booked my flights for the next day. It was a flurry of how to pack and for how long?

I placed hand sanitizer outside the front entrance, I hadn’t yet found N95 masks and wasn’t aware of others.

When I got to Smithers I made masks and sent them down. I sure could have used a mask for my travels. Los Angeles airport was packed as was Vancouver’s and the three flights. I was hypersensitive to people coughing and there was a lot of coughing.

But not a word was mentioned at any of the airports of a new protocol. There were no signs either of upcoming restrictions, it felt surreal to me.

A friend had offered me his condo in New Westminster, he and his family were booking flights back from New Zealand and it had been empty for a while. The cab ride to the condo from the airport scared me. The driver had a cold and he was coughing and rubbing his nose with the back of his hand. He handed me the credit card machine to put in my code and lifted my luggage out.

Three days later, going to Vancouver to catch my flight to Smithers things were changing.

It was a different driver and he wore a mask, used the hand sanitizer from the cup holder beside him and had a tap-to-pay credit card machine which he turned toward me.

One year later it is strange to hear someone cough. I have been germ phobic my whole life. Mom said that as a child, I would come crying to her if my hands were dirty and she would need to wash them to stop the tears.

Perhaps, because my mom was born shortly after the 1918 pandemic, we were inherently taught the rules. We never shared a glass or ate from each other’s plates and I must have learned to wash my hands. Except for the mask, I’ve gone back to the old normal.

I will travel again as soon as I can. My arm will be up to get the vaccine. I will still use all of the precautions because I’m not really at the top of the food chain after all.

It is a wonderful world that we live in and we can adapt. Betty Chapman got her vaccine against COVID-19 on March 10, her 100th birthday! A few days later she had no symptoms, not even a sore arm!

The story of her life is in the Feb. 18 edition of The Interior News, written by Debby Meissner.

To contribute to this column please e-mail Sonja.lester.b.c@gmail.com or phone 250-847-4414.

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