The Corona virus has been spreading for weeks. First identified on Ireland’s shores around ten days ago, the town I live in being one of the first to have a cluster.

Diagnosed cases now number in the hundreds. There are certainly more. Soon there will be thousands and after that, who knows?

Rumours abound. Official denials of army lockdowns have not stopped viral chatter through the messaging apps. A rumour shared on a Whatsapp group that the fire service and army will be mobilised this coming Wednesday is the catalyst for me to write. Everyone has seen it at this stage. I’m receiving it from loads of unrelated people. I have heard nothing of the sort officially. It’s probably a hoax.

I cannot presume to know how other people feel. There is obviously fear and anxiety. Videos from Temple Bar show many are not allowing the reported crisis to stop festivities. We react how we react – these are unprecedented times. Myself, I can’t help feeling an excited anticipation and I make no apologies for that. Evolution throws different personality types into the mix, the building blocks of societies. All our personality types have a purpose. There is an electric air of foreboding in the calm before the storm.

The first troops into the melee are the workers in the supermarkets. Stoically going about their tasks as they cheerfully tend the crowds and restock the shelves stripped by buyers in varying degrees of panic. As social separation and self isolation  becomes the new normal, voluntarily or otherwise, these unwitting heros will be essential in delivering our food supplies; the bulwark between peace and chaos. Healthcare workers, paramedics, soldiers, gardai, firefighters, we signed up for this shit. No one would blame shop staff from phoning in sick to protect themselves but they have become the first frontline. I hope, when this is done, we honour them.

We are witnessing other good deeds.  Local business’ closing before it is enforced on them or offering deliveries to those who need them, as are citizens. I am surprised to feel hope that people have what it takes in the face of a crisis. I had rather given the species up as a lost cause.  I might have to review my prognosis of humanity. The coming weeks and months will tell us a lot.

I suspect things will be different on the other side. Healthcare systems will surely prove inadequate in their current form. They will be forced to evolve rapidly. The economy too will grind to a standstill if the rumoured lockdown comes into effect. How will people pay rent, mortgages and utilities in the interim? Questions are being asked of the gig economy. Can people with no security and no savings be expected to voluntarily give up work and if they do will they be provided for? It seems a period of forced socialism will be inevitable.

Other pandemics  have changed the course of history.  Will there be a great recession in the aftermath of this current one. Will society boom as it did after the great influenza pandemic of 1918 or will Covid-19 simply fizzle out with minimal consequences as we seamlessly transition back to normal?  These are questions that will be answered in time and not by me.  All I intend to do is keep a journal of life as a rookie firefighter during these most unusual of seasons.