The “new norm” it is an expression that I have heard and used myself regarding our future but what does the new norm look like and feel like?
After 3 months of quarantine in Northern Ireland it was time for me to travel back to my home in London and return to my work in hospitality. I was excited to see my colleagues and go back to the hustle and bustle of city life.
My journey back to London was very surreal and it felt like I was in a movie. I arrived at the airport expecting long ques for check in and even longer ques at security, but this was not the case. There was hardly anyone there. In fact, it felt like the airport was not open. No ques at check in, no ques at security and nothing open inside. Just people waiting around wearing masks and looking nervous. Like many others who were travelling this was probably their first flight since lockdown and worried about the implications of doing so.
The flight was comfortable, and EasyJet adhered to social distancing, any concerns I had about flying were put at ease. I had a whole row to myself which instantly put my mind at rest. Everyone continued to wear their masks as instructed in the airport and out of respect for each other. It is a short flight of only an hour so wearing the mask was not an inconvenience for that time. My concern was how could EasyJet operate with half capacity on a plane of this size? Would this be reflected in the price that we the consumer would pay? Would travelling now become a luxury?
After arriving in London, I then had to take a train and tube journey to reach my home. Like many people I was a little nervous about using the underground. At this stage I had been wearing my mask now for almost 3 hours. The temperature in London was much hotter than Ireland and the underground even warmer. It did not feel like the City that I had left. No crowds, no squeezing to get in. Just myself and 3 others on the carriage. The temperature as usual was hot and if you have ever been to London you will know how hot the underground gets. Wearing a mask is uncomfortable and at times its difficult to breath. I do not have the luxury of getting an uber or a taxi so public transport is how I and many others will be travelling. What I did realise though was an elderly man sitting opposite me and he was wearing his mask also. How hard must that have been in that heat? But he chooses to wear it because it was the right thing to do. He was showing kindness towards others. A small gesture but a beautiful moment for humanity.
I returned to my work the following day and seeing my colleagues for the first time was heart-warming, when you work in hospitality your colleagues are not just your colleagues but your family. My instinct was to hug them, I had not seen them in 3 months, and it was the first thing I wanted to do. I am a hugger and have always been a hugger. I just find it a nice way to say hello. For me this was extremely hard, and I am sure so many others can relate and is something I find extremely difficult about the new norm. Physical contact for all over us is so precious.
Despite what is happening around the world businesses are working hard to ensure your safety, public transport, aeroplanes, restaurants, pubs, hotels, shops are all adapting so that we can all get back to normal. Employees are learning new systems, training and eager to welcome you back. What I do know, regardless of what the new norm looks like and how hard it may be, if we are patient, kind and respectful of others needs then just maybe we can achieve a beautiful future together.