Kind­ness is con­ta­gious

Central and North Burnett Times - - LIFESTYLE - GAIL FORRER

GET in early, push, shove and el­bow in.

In the last days of March this year, that’s the way many Aus­tralians beat their neigh­bours to toi­let paper, sani­tiser, rice and pasta.

When the su­per­mar­ket shelves emp­tied, un­der­ground chats shared the names of newly stocked-up su­per­mar­kets, but they too emp­tied quickly. Fi­nally, for those not up for the phys­i­cal chal­lenge of crowds and com­pe­ti­tion, the su­per­mar­ket of­fered spe­cific shop­ping hours.

Panic buy­ing is a sur­vival mech­a­nism linked to self­p­reser­va­tion, says psy­chi­a­trist and au­thor Mark Cross, “when the in­di­vid­ual be­comes more im­por­tant than the community”.

In the un­charted world of COVID-19, for many Aus­tralians, panic buy­ing was a first re­sponse, a be­hav­iour brought about through ex­is­ten­tial anx­i­ety.

But, 55-year-old Dr Cross, a man who pub­licly shares de­tails of his life lived with se­ri­ous anx­i­ety at­tacks yet speaks out with can­dour, hu­mour and author­ity, there is a flip side to this be­hav­iour and it’s very pos­i­tive.

“The community has reached out to support each other,” he said.

Queens­land’s Care Army, which has en­listed people able to check in on the el­derly and vul­ner­a­ble dur­ing lock­down, is an ex­am­ple of giv­ing support and sav­ing lives.

But, Dr Cross notes there have been in­di­vid­ual ex­am­ples across the coun­try.

“Neigh­bour has gone to neigh­bour to share and shop,” he said.

“So­cial me­dia seems to be kinder too, there’s a sense of hu­mour; just look at the memes.

“I’m so proud to be Aus­tralian,” the for­mer South African said.

“The way we have em­braced each other is the Aussie spirit of mate­ship.”

Bris­bane cafe owner Britt Ayling said she was a re­cip­i­ent of the good­will.

She has owned her New Farm Cafe GROUND for two and a half years, gain­ing a rep­u­ta­tion for serv­ing great cof­fee and a warm smile.

In the early days of the virus, her cus­tom-made out­door chalk­board was stolen. Ms Ayling flipped the sit­u­a­tion, by in­stalling a board that quickly filled with “pay it for­ward” notes. The community gen­er­ously gave and the re­cip­i­ents ap­pre­ci­ated their free cup of cof­fee.

And there are other acts of ran­dom kind­ness

“When I men­tioned I was find­ing it hard to get flour, a cus­tomer brought some in,” she said.

As the su­per­mar­ket shelves have re­filled, oth­ers have be­come empty.

Rather than panic buy­ing, there is rush on a new range of items, with an in­ter­gen­er­a­tional flavour.

Be­cause of all the foot­path art, chalk can be in short sup­ply. The art of­ten drawn by chil­dren has brought a hearty re­sponse from ad­mir­ing grand­par­ents. A rush of home bak­ing has meant a short­age of bak­ing dishes and in­gre­di­ents, but it has also meant a shar­ing of recipes be­tween young and old, and bi­cy­cle stores report busi­ness is boom­ing, for ev­ery age group.

GEN­EROS­ITY: Britt Ayling shows GROUND Cafe's pay-it-for­ward cof­fee wall.

Mark Cross is proud of how Aus­tralians have em­braced each other dur­ing the pan­demic.

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