19 August 2021

How the worst of days can bring out the best in us

| Sally Hopman
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Queued cars at Yass COVID-19 testing station

Cars snake down a Yass street heading for the local COVID-19 testing station. Photo: Sally Hopman.

Remember good news? Niceness? Random acts of kindness? Any news, really, that didn’t involve you heading straight back under the doona?

Well, they’re back. Increasingly random acts of niceness are populating many of our regional areas, particularly Yass and Murrumbateman.

Yes, bad news still rules, but crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic look to be bringing out the best in more and more people.

People are leaving vegetables outside friends’ and strangers’ properties.

They’re paying for the person behind them in supermarkets (and not taking all the toilet paper).

They’re checking on neighbours and even people they don’t really know because they’re starting to realise we’re all in the same boat.

In many cases, we can thank social media for this change of attitude. Yes, people are still being rude, but increasing numbers of people are using digital platforms to help each other.

Although, when we asked folks via the village noticeboards to tell us about random acts of niceness they’d heard about, one fellow told us off, saying we shouldn’t encourage people to blow their own trumpets.

We weren’t and they haven’t been.

But people seem to be increasingly offering services to people who really need it, particularly those who have been left feeling alienated, isolated and lonely.

Little online neighbourhood groups that, pre-COVID-19, had a few hundred members now have double that and more, and they’ve become the best cheering-up platforms.

We asked some Yass Valley locals to share their good news stories:

“One Murrumbateman couple made a mercy dash most of the way to Albury to collect their friend’s daughter from boarding school before it closed for lockdown,” said one local. “Their friend had just had major surgery.”

Another local said: “My husband is in Canberra Hospital and I had to leave him the day after his major surgery for ACT lockdown. My neighbours rallied with cakes, pumpkins, eggs, milk and offers of help and shopping. My week alone has been made bearable.”

There have been call-outs for just about everything, including crickets. There’s a pet lizard in Murrumbateman who, according to its owner, woke from brumation inconveniently early and needed a feed.

But the biggest rounds of applause are deservedly going to nurses at the COVID-19 testing stations that have had cars snaking along Yass streets for the past few days. Just as we were coming to the front of the queue on Monday, a couple arrived with trays of sandwiches, cakes and coffees for the nurses.

After we told the nurse we were happy to wait so she could drink her coffee while it was still warm, she laughed and said, “I’m a nurse – I don’t know what hot coffee tastes like.”

There are many other small-town heroes, but we couldn’t go past the supermarket staff who are working night and day to keep shelves filled with things which, until recently, have gone into the unmentionables basket. But thanks to them and their trusty box cutters, no-one is being caught short.

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“A friend of mine picked up a Woolworths click-and-collect order on my behalf, however two bags of frozen goods were missing,” said one local. “I called Yass Woolworths and the beautiful lady who answered came and personally delivered them for me. It meant the world. So thankful.”

And another: “I popped up an [online] post the other day about my experience in Woolworths late at night to grab some staple items that we ran out of, such as bread and bananas, and found myself in tears as there was literally nothing. My post was not aimed for sympathy but mostly to ask those people who are panic buying to please stop so the rest of us can continue to feed our families. I was inundated with messages from so many locals offering to drop bread and other items to me which warmed my heart and, again, brought me to tears.”

Another local said: “When grabbing groceries on Saturday, my two-year-old kept bolting. An elderly couple offered to push my trolley for me as I was struggling to push it and carry him on my hip.”

There’s also free grapefruit in South Street, Murrumbateman; a new street library in Rossi Street, Yass, where you’re encouraged to borrow and donate books; and at Yass Macca’s, customers are paying for the people behind them.

Community spirit is alive and well.

Original Article published by Sally Hopman on About Regional.

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