Thanks to coronavirus I am now in my 8th week of working full time as pharmacy delivery driver in Dunblane. Having worked part time for 18 months, coronavirus has called my bluff, pushed me out of my comfort zone and forced me to know my hometown as never before.
I have discovered streets, cul de sacs and farms I never knew existed, big hooses that most people only dream of. I have discovered where half of Dunblane stay, folk I only recognise from the pub. I stand, stare and say: “I know you… but you’re out of context”. In one street I counted five regulars from my local, either in their garden or on the pavement.
Its been a helluva time, very rewarding and humbling yet at the same time scary and tragic. A friend called it bittersweet and I think thats it. Everything is exaggerated: I feel very proud to be a key worker yet at times very scared because of an inconvenient truth. I am the perfect carrier.
And thats scary. Last Tuesday, traditionally my quiet day, I counted my deliveries. There were seventy. For the record, I personally am not scared of meeting the virus as I think I will cope physically but it scares the hell out of me that I could carry it. My ‘service users’ are in their 80s mostly.
But its my work. I cannot not do it. Besides over the last 18 months these folks have become like a second family to me. Heres my recent rollercoaster :
Two weeks ago I was delivering to a lovely old lady. She’s hard of hearing so I was glad to see a car outside and the front door open. Visitors I thought, good. A man ages with me came to the door. He looked shocked to see me. “Shes not here” he said, “shes not here anymore”. I knew immediately. I’m stood there like a guilty schoolboy, clutching the prescription and mumbling apologies. She had passed away the night before and nobody had informed us. That poor guy. As I drove away my eyes well up. Keep the heid, I tell myself, get a grip it’ll be fine, it’ll be fine.
Then last week late one afternoon I was working my way back to Dunblane, up and down several farm tracks, dodging the wee lambs. I had a blether with a women who was worried about the old yins in a local sheltered housing scheme. Suddenly her face brightened. “Do you want to see a foal?” she asked. Into the barn and there was a beautiful foal, steady on its feet too. How old? Born yesterday. I couldn’t believe it. This time I drove away big smiles.
Also last week I learned a friend had passed away. I delivered to him maybe once a week and although I could see he was suffering he would also have a joke and a laugh, mostly at himself. He saved the day one time years ago when he gave us the spare room in his works digs in Portree. We were stuck with no accomodation so I did what any self respecting Scot would do – I went to the pub (Harrys Bar by the harbour) and there he was. He asked me immediately whats wrong and sorted me out there and then. I can’t remember but I hope I bought him a drink at least.
And finally, on Friday there I’m delivering to an old friend of my mums. Theres balloons and banners outside. The carers are there and family too, wee kids and dogs in the car park. How old is she? Eighty five just a youngster haha. A piper starts up Scotland the Brave then Happy Birthday and we all sing along. I got something in my eye at that point. Mum would have loved this I’m thinking. Big round of applause and she’s giving us the royal wave, her carers either side of her. What carers eh! Absolute stars.
So there you have it. My work these days. Laughter and tears. Life and death. Bittersweet indeed.
And the crazy thing is I’ve not got a scooby when I can get off this rollercoaster.