Ask Ann Cannon: How can I politely remind folks to keep their distance?

Ann Cannon

Dear Ann Cannon • Can you suggest ways to remind people of proper social distancing in the new age of COVID-19? We are really, really trying to follow the prescribed safety measures, including very few shopping trips. At my weekly trip for a few fresh groceries yesterday, people were cruising through the aisles, leaving maybe 2 feet of space, reaching over each other for the best bunch of broccoli, even the produce man started unloading a box of apples a foot away from me. Trying to keep distance threw me into a true panic attack. When a woman whipped around a corner directly into my space in the pasta aisle I lost it and blurted: “SIX FEET PLEASE!” There must be a better way to do react. Unless there isn’t. Your thoughts?

COVID Cave Dweller

Dear COVID Cave Dweller • Thanks so much for your letter. It’s a reminder that we should be especially careful and considerate when we’re in public spaces with one another. Your experience at the grocery store reminds me of something that happened to me the other day. Without thinking, I asked someone if I could say hello to his dog who was desperate for me to acknowledge it with a pat on the head. The owner gave me a friendly smile and said, “I’d rather you didn’t right now.” I immediately realized that I had forgotten myself for a moment. And while I felt embarrassed, I appreciated the owner’s kind but straightforward reminder that I needed to keep my distance.

My point? Do what you can to keep your own distance, but don’t hesitate to say something when necessary to others. My best to you and yours.

Dear Tribune Readers • Lately I’ve been keeping a list of the things I hope I won’t take for granted once this pandemic is in our rearview mirror. Top of the list? Hugging. I am a natural-born hugger and keeping my arms to myself HAS BEEN SO HARD. Anyway, I decided to ask friends, including those on Facebook, to list some of the things they won’t take for granted. Some of their responses follow:

Going to the grocery store without feeling afraid. Finding what you need at the grocery store. Attending plays and musicals. Having a paycheck. Chatting with neighbors at a distance closer than 6 feet. Rubbing your eyes.

Hearing the clink of glasses and the hum of people enjoying a meal together in a favorite restaurant. Eavesdropping on conversations at the next table over, even if the conversations are boring. Chatting with waiters. Cooking for family and friends and having them over to dinner.

Playing with grandchildren. Smelling their sweaty heads after they’ve been outside playing. Visiting loved ones in the hospital. Attending memorial services for people who have passed on. Walking down a busy street and feeling a part of the buzz of urban activity.

What else? How about visiting a hair stylist. Getting your nails done. Watching a Utah Jazz game. Texting fellow Jazz fans while watching a Jazz game. Heading to Moab for the weekend. Going to the library and browsing through the books. Going to a movie theater and enjoying a tubful of buttered popcorn.

Spending Saturday and Sunday with a child who lives in a group home during the week. Cheering for a child at a track meet. Working out in a gym. Meeting in person instead of over Zoom with your writers’ group or book group. Going to church. Being in the same room with your students.

And there’s more. Working at work instead of working from home. Being so busy you have to prioritize. Playing bridge. Seeing regular passengers on TRAX. Wandering around a store just for fun. Traveling by air. Finding two-ply toilet paper at Costco. Seeing your mother on a regular basis. Watching a family member graduate. Feeling anxious only half of the time instead of all the time. Attending class. Feeling like a little dirt will enhance your immune system.

Feeling carefree.

Stay safe out there, my friends.


Ann Cannon

Ann Cannon is The Tribune’s advice columnist. Got a question for Ann? Email her at askann@sltrib.com or visit the Ask Ann Cannon page on Facebook.