Maastricht: That escalated quickly

The outbreak of the coronavirus in the Netherlands is, if you ask me, a classic example of “that escalated quickly”.

I am currently interning at the local university hospital in Maastricht. Last week, among my fellow interns at the Nutrition & Movement Sciences research group, we started a bet – for fun – on when our university would have to close due to the virus outbreak.

And well, less than a week later, I find myself at home. Interestingly, no one turned out to have guessed the right date as most of us thought it would only happen by the end of March or the beginning of April.

Photo by Brenda

Others even thought that the university wouldn’t have to close at all. But it definitely did. As I finished my week as an intern at the university, fully aware of the increasing precautionary measures, I started the weekend at my local supermarket where I work as a cashier.

Even though I had heard about the “hamsteren” plans (Dutch word for hoarding) of a lot of Dutch people, I had no clue yet what I could expect at a local supermarket in Maastricht. To be frank, it was actually quite quiet for a Saturday, especially in the evening. Also, on Sunday, when the store usually gets very crowded, there weren’t many people there.

As cashiers, we have started to wear gloves now. We disinfect the cash desk several times an hour with alcohol too. What I did notice while I was at work, was the number of people that still paid their groceries in cash even though we kindly ask people to pay by card only.

The ways people reacted to our precautionary measures really differed. Some were really cautious at the cash desk, others made (funny) comments about our gloves. We even received tips on how we could prevent our hands from drying out. And, of course, a lot of people were laughing, others complaining, about the toilet paper that was out of stock.

At our local store, we sell extremely expensive toilet paper with cool prints as well. This type of designer toilet paper, however, I only sold once throughout the entire weekend. It shows that people are apparently not that crazy.

Nevertheless, I am very aware that as a cashier I encounter hundreds of people during a working day. Personally, I’m not afraid of getting the virus myself as I am convinced my immune system won’t let me down. However, the idea that I could be contagious (unknowingly) is an unpleasant idea as I encounter many people at the supermarket.

Let’s hope for the best, but please don’t forget to still share your funny thoughts or jokes with us cashiers. Those moments can help us through the day!

Brenda is a Dutch student of Nutrition & Movement Sciences, who lives in Maastricht, The Netherlands

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