Love isn't all flowers and chocolates and Champagne. Love is about the dull stuff too. Providing. Looking after them. Keeping them safe.
I thought they'd laugh me out of it in the chemists. And they did. But not for the reason I expected. I even said, "Don't laugh" before I asked if they had surgical face-masks. But he did laugh.
Not because I was crazy enough to be looking for face-masks. But because I was crazy enough to think he might have any left. I had even gone to one of those special chemists where they have various medical equipment. He told me my best bet at this stage was to get some from America, that I might get lucky online.
I thought I was getting in early. It was Tuesday and I thought I was being smart, and beating the crowds. I thought no one else would be crazy enough to be thinking about masks right now. I had seen the odd person wearing a mask around town, but I figured most Irish people would leave it until the last minute.
I had genuine enough reasons for wanting masks. We have to take a flight in the coming days and one of my girls would be in the high-risk group for viral and respiratory things turning bad.
I'll admit, I had vowed a week earlier to get some masks for her. I had seen people queuing for a day, in Thailand, for masks. I hate queuing at the best of times. But queuing for a day, for surgical masks, while wearing a surgical mask? I mean, I love my kid. But no way.
But then I kept forgetting to do it, and suddenly, on Tuesday, no masks to be had in Ireland. I went into another chemist/medical implements shop. There were two Chinese people just finishing their business. The lady behind the counter was taking their name and number. She said she would let them know if she got any.
"They were looking for masks, weren't they?"
"So no masks?"
"No, but we are hoping to get more. One of the suppliers may get them at some stage. But right now their orders are being rejected because all the masks are going to China."
I told her I thought I was getting in early with the mask panic. No, she said, I was about three weeks late. She said that one day she had a queue of 40 people waiting because the courier was coming with the masks.
Clearly the panic had started without me even noticing. She offered to take my name and number. She took out a notebook and started turning pages, pages full of names and numbers.
"Is there a waiting list for the masks?"
"Not quite, but yes, these are all the people we are to contact when we get masks in."
I put my name down and she said she would let me know.
Then I remembered I'd heard a woman talking about hand-washing on Pat Kenny earlier. She was an Irish woman who had worked through the ebola situation. She talked about how hand-washing was crucial. When workers started washing their hands all the time during the ebola outbreak, they found a marked decrease in all other illnesses and infections too.
So I said to the chemist I'd take a few hand sanitisers anyway while I was there. She looked at me pityingly. She pointed to a big gap on a shelf. That was where the hand sanitisers should be. She told me she might be getting more in the next delivery.
I kept up the hunt and I eventually scored some masks from a very kind chemist who had a personal stash. I was going back in to work with them, triumphant. The hunter gatherer, the devoted father. I was determined not to tell anyone, because you don't want everyone wanting them, and you don't want to spread panic.
But I was so delighted with myself, I couldn't hold back. When someone in the lift asked me how I was, only requiring me to say 'fine' and how was she, I couldn't help myself. I was really good, I told her. I had scored some face-masks for my little girl.
I asked my colleague if she knew how hard they were to get. There's quite a shortage, I told her, she should get some if she could. But don't be telling everyone. We didn't want to cause a panic.
She got out of the lift as soon as possible, probably slightly worried about me.
But I didn't care, I had face-masks for my little girl. But don't tell anyone.
Sunday Indo Living