A crisis can bring out a lot of good in us

By Artur Odwald

Żabka, Monday morning. Some guy wanted to buy a few buns, and a beer. He tried to use his credit card and – transaction denied. He goes to put the buns back, but the cashier stopped him.

“You must buy them. First of all, you didn’t use the plastic gloves, and second of all, you put them directly in the basket.”

“But I don’t have enough money,” he responded.

“No beer then,” she retorted.

He ran the card again and this time everything went through. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was expecting to see a fed-up cashier who couldn’t care less about her job. Instead, I saw a woman who took the responsibility, spoke up, and made sure that the man did the right thing. She actually cared.

I went to Biedronka later that week, and I saw people standing in the parking lot, keeping their distance. I looked at the building, but it wasn’t on fire. They weren’t staring, it was a queue. Again, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Where were the crowds that would stampede, running over anything and anyone in their way? I got in line, and when it was my turn, I was stopped at the entrance, politely asked to sanitize my hands and use the plastic gloves which they provided. Instead of complaining, people were courteous, patient, and cooperative.

We’ve all seen the older folks yelling at or complaining about the youth. Some of us may even remember taking part in such a skirmish, be it on the giving or the receiving end. So, imagine my surprise when I saw an announcement about offers of help from kids involved in the Scouts. Turns out the youth aren’t all that bad nowadays.

A notice announcing the Scouts are available to help people with their shopping

These are just some examples of how people react, given the current situation. I’m sure there are many other instances of commendable behaviour, as well as cases at the other end of that spectrum – the infamous so-called Covidiots.

When asked about your community, you might have had a more pessimistic image in mind: the passive-aggressive, pigeon-feeding, pissing-in-public bunch. Nothing but a nuisance. After all, we often feel we have no equals when it comes to complaining about our own, and, no doubt, it’s probably like this everywhere.

But when a common enemy shows up, especially of this magnitude, we fight back, and we do so relentlessly. The exemplary behaviour of so many individuals, the proactive attitude of a good number of institutions, that’s something to be proud of.

We should notice these positive acts and put them in the spotlight. If they go unnoticed and unappreciated, we’re bound to believe that we’re surrounded by arrogant and selfish jerks.

Perhaps this is an opportunity to restore some faith in us humans.

Perhaps we will remain considerate, even when we reach the post-apocalyptic, er, post-pandemic times, when all goes back to normal.

Perhaps being kind and considerate will be the new norm, at least for those who had an otherwise cynical outlook.

So, may we always take good care of each other, just as we do when we are afraid.

Artur Odwald is Editor-in-chief of Unicorner. He is a student at Społeczna Akademia Nauk.