“Have you printed off your vaccination certificate?”, I asked a family member earlier in the week. He’s a tradie who has been living and working in New South Wales for several months, and has been staying with us for about the last four weeks.
Lately, the work he does has started to dry up, and he’s been starting to feel a little homesick, keen to see his closer family. This week he decided he would try to head home, to see if he could cross the tight border into Queensland.
A couple of weeks ago, he wasn’t planning to get a vaccination. Not because he’s not a anti-vaxxer (or at least I don’t think so), he said he felt he didn’t “need it”. But I urged him to get vaccinated, knowing it will become an increasingly important part of work and travel in the future.
I’d also been told by a friend (who lives in NSW, but has a business in Queensland), people seem to have more of a chance of getting through the border check quickly if they are able to show evidence of vaccination.
I even made the appointment for him at the nearby pharmacy in South Lismore. He’s back home tonight, and I hope it played a part in getting him successfully back home to Queensland.
We’ll miss him, as it’s been great to re-connect with him in a face-to-face sense. I think Jack, in particular, will miss him. I think he’s enjoyed having someone to talk about “mechanics and other manly stuff with”. I’m not very good at that kind of conversation.
As for me, I’ve been wondering if I should “risk it” and return home to Sydney, too. I’m also feeling a little homesick. This is now the longest period of time I’ve spent back in Lismore since I finished university at the end of 1986!
“Don’t you even dare think about returning to Sydney”, Pat has said to me on a couple of occasions this week. “It’s too dangerous down there”, she’s added.
Every day we sit and watch on television the 11am NSW COVID media conference and sigh, as there’s never much good news, despite the “positive spin” put on everything.
In the midst of the ever-increasing numbers we also have a bit of fun. Just before the press conference I’ll ask everyone to guess the number of new cases. There’s no “prize” per se, but it brings a moment of joy into a depressing story. On the day the figure passed 1,000 daily cases none of us came even close to guessing.
The advice of friends and colleagues is that I should stay here. “There’s no reason to come back”, they’ve all said.
And indeed, I have a lovely life here.
“I’ve got a lovely daily routine here”, I told colleagues on our weekly team hook-up today. “I’ll go for a walk down the street and grab a coffee. The woman who runs the coffee shop used to work with my niece. The brother of her grandson (who works with her) is best friends with the son of my niece. We all like to have a chat/gossip.”
“And then I’ll pop in to the post office, the chemist, and the bakery, doing some odd jobs for my family. I’ll call in to the pie shop, too. That’s been owned by the Bowen Family since 1949, and I went to school with Tracey who now runs the shop. We have a chat, too”, I’ve told them.
All in all, what could take 15 minutes, sometmes turns into close to an hour.
“How’s it going?, I asked the bloke behind the counter. “The same number of customers”, he told me. “It’s just that everyone is drinking a hell of a lot more”, he added.