A Minor Inconvenience

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected everyone around the world in some way. In fact, it may be the first instance in recorded history of one single crisis sweeping across humanity on every continent so quickly. It has had an influence not only on people’s health, but also on the global economy, the environment, and the way we learn and work. It has even changed our relationship with toilet paper.

Our appearance has also changed, as masks are now a regular part of public life. Since returning to work after the peak of the first wave of the virus had passed, I have taken PPE very seriously. When I go to customers’ houses, I wear a mask at all times. Usually, it is this large builder’s mask with a built-in face shield and two filters:

It forms a complete seal around my face, and I ensure to put it on when I am still outside, before entering the property. In addition to this, I carry sanitizing spray with me and clean my hands regularly. In certain cases, it makes more sense to wear a smaller P3 mask instead, and I always carry one of these with me as well:

Some people, in fact many people, might consider this to be overkill. Even some of my customers’ dogs look somewhat confused as I enter their houses. I can understand that my PPE might look a little apocalyptic at first glance, and I can understand that everyone has grown tired of all this “new normal.” However, much like in plumbing, a problem might be inconvenient, but that doesn’t mean that you should just ignore it. I wear PPE and will continue doing so until the virus is eradicated or until there is compelling evidence from health experts that we no longer need to wear masks.

It’s not a case of being afraid of the virus, it’s a case of being careful for the sake of others. I am relatively young and healthy, but I have many elderly and vulnerable customers. Therefore, I take every step I can to protect them. I have a responsibility to keep myself as safe as possible when going between so many people’s bathrooms and kitchens, where food is prepared and faces are washed. Knowing that I am protected from the virus, I know I am not spreading it directly into people’s homes either. Moreover, I would like to do my part to protect the economy and society as a whole. The more cavalier we become, the more likely it is that there will be further lockdowns. Whether or not any given person agrees with lockdown as a method of keeping the virus at bay, it is a very real possibility that it could be imposed. We can all help prevent this from happening by being careful and wearing masks.

If it turns out that my PPE was overkill, the only thing I’ve done is inconvenienced myself in a very small way. However, if it turns out that the virus is as dangerous and contagious as leading epidemiologists around the world are saying, then wearing a mask could be saving lives and livelihoods. For me, this is a worthwhile inconvenience. So, if you book me for a plumbing job, don’t be too shocked when I arrive at your door in what looks like a gas mask. It’s all part of the new normal at Hedgehog Plumbing.

On the brighter side, the PPE has actually made some parts of my job more pleasant. Now that I’ve got a built-in visor, I am immune to unpleasant odours and water dripping on my face. Thanks to the air filters, my lungs have also never felt healthier. I realise now how much dust I must have been inhaling before. And to top it all off, I no longer worry about spiders crawling on my face when I am looking at pipes underneath old floorboards. In times of crisis, it’s always helpful to look for the positives.