WE were shopping at a supermarket on Wednesday morning, where we experienced the worst and the best of humanity.
The worst was experiencing the greed of people shopping and the rows of empty shelves left by shelves not being replenished.
The best was when we were lining up to pay for our shopping; we were talking to a lady before us who had a lovely Irish accent. When we remarked on her accent, she told us she came from Belfast. When we went to pay for our shopping we were told she had left $100 to pay for ours.
Unfortunately when I learned this I went looking for her to thank her for her generosity, but she had disappeared. We would like her to know that we were embarrassed by her very generous gift but also very grateful, and we will pay it forward.
Allan and Pat McTaggart, Mount Hutton
KEEP HOARDERS ON TRACK
SHOULD supermarkets be given a temporary right to electronically track customer purchases?
Given the current panic buying and hoarding, perhaps supermarkets should be given a temporary legal right and responsibility to track and ration customer purchases. This would save a lot of anxiety and shortages, although of course, the privacy libertarians would be up in arms.
If customers were legally forced to identify themselves when they made a cash or credit card purchase, the sale could be rejected if they had overbought on rationed items. The checkout machine would identify the offending items and also alert a supermarket staff member. After a while, to avoid the embarrassment of this situation, people would stop panic buying and hoarding.
Geoff Black, Caves Beach
IT'S A STEEP LEARNING CURVE
THE recent report in this publication that the most viable option for an extension to the light rail network would be to the John Hunter Hospital ('Potential next stop for trams', Herald 14/3) was interesting.
I understand the line would ideally run through New Lambton and along Russell Road. If I'm not mistaken, the tram line will be very steep in places. I think the report said the gradient would be nine per cent. That is steep! The road is also narrow, with two traffic lanes from New Lambton to Croudace Road. This could be interesting for all the wrong reasons during peak hours.
What sort of trams will be running on this line? I doubt that the trams currently running in the city would be suitable. In any case, the decision as to what trams should run on this line should be made by the engineers rather than the government. Considering their record with the railway into Newcastle and the tram line in Hunter Street, I wouldn't trust them.
I'm told trouble is being experienced with the light rail in Sydney. It's been said that a number of the new trams have experienced burn-out traction motors. I'm told the motors are not strong enough for the new light rail line. If this is true, then this why the final decision as to what trams we see should be made by the engineers.
The route the tram line will run should be decided by those with experience in this field. I'm not saying the line should not be built, but we need to get it right.
Peter Sansom , Kahibah
EXPECT WORST, DO YOUR BEST
PRETTY well all of us have seen the wrestling matches in the toilet roll aisles and wondered why on earth do that; an incomprehensible display of un-Australian behaviour. Don't do it.
We have also seen countless hours of stock market sell-offs that leave us less Australian than we were, at least in dollar terms, yet they are an acceptable and expected consequence of where we find ourselves. Why so different? Isn't the exact same mix of greed and fear driving both understandable human reactions?
More importantly, progressively the details of virus cases seem to be coming less explicit. Maybe people are rushed or feel we've heard enough. We were told of the susceptibility of the older and more vulnerable among us but that mostly it would only be a slight cough, possibly not even noticeable. Maybe it's those among us that found the beaches and bars so attractive recently to the point where more draconian measures are required for all except the schools.
Maybe the rush to keep socialising was a some kind of plan to catch the virus early and build up immunity before the hospitals become as crowded as the bars and beaches. Just bear in mind that the jury is still out on whether you can catch COVID-19 again, or if indeed you become more vulnerable to its effects the next time. And let's not mention mutations for fear of scaring people.
Maybe now is a good time to think the worst and act the best.
Vic Davies, Tighes Hill
THE COAL QUESTION REMAINS
SHAKESPEARE wrote "Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war!". Did I cry havoc in my letter to the editor (Letters, 11/3)? All I intended was to point out the selfish acts of our Labor politicians when it comes to the future of this region, this country and this planet. The issue was coal mining and the future of the workers.
In reference to comments about me by Mr Conroy ('Simplistic slogans on coal are not helping', Opinion 18/3), let me say this: I am way too young and way too good-looking to have earned an ALP dirt file. Thanks anyway.
It seems it was shoot the messenger time, but unfortunately most of the shots missed and I only received a few flesh wounds. But there was collateral damage, and that is the workers themselves. What sort of future do they face? This question was answered by Professor Phillip O'Neill in his article ('Region's exit from coal won't be seamless', Opinion 16.3). No, but it can be easier if our MPs began preparing now.
John Brown, Bolwarra Heights
CRITICISM IS UNHELPFUL
IN normal times I have no confidence in the government's competence in running the country, but Scott Hillard's letter (Letters, 20/3) I believe is a cheap, naive and uninformed shot at a government that is doing the best it can in a time of uncharted waters for all of us, even the experts in the field.
Thankfully the government is doing the only sensible thing, and that is following the advice of the professionals. While down the track after we have weathered the storm there will undoubtedly be things that in hindsight could have been done better, but for armchair critics to be criticising and offering their inexpert advice this early in the pandemic is unhelpful and childish.
Allan Earl, Beresfield
TIME TO FIX PRIORITIES
EVERYONE is calling for a cure to coronavirus, so how about we start paying research scientists a million dollars per season and not some of these so-called sport superstars already on big money?
Murray Wilkinson, Blackalls Park
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WITH many businesses forced to close their doors today, many individuals are now left unemployed and devastated. I was utterly disgusted to see the number of parking inspectors prowling the streets of the CBD, happily handing out fines as if they were free brochures. As people walked away from their final work shift today, wondering how they will pay for their rent and groceries this week and for the weeks or months ahead, they can now add a parking fine to the list. Shame on you, City of Newcastle council. How very un-Australian.
Blake Nash, Merewether
DEEPAK Chopra sums up how many feel. It's sadly relevant: "Most people talk about fear of the unknown, but if there is anything to fear, it is the known".
Dean Sutherland, Anna Bay
THE NSW government condemns people for gathering on Bondi Beach and then unbelievably allows nearly 3000 passengers (some apparently with signs of illness) to disembark a cruise ship without any health checks or restrictions on further travel. Then we have the "schools will stay open, but don't send your kids to school" contradiction. Two examples of mixed messaging on steroids perhaps.
Jim Gardiner, New Lambton
A BIG thank you to the staff at Swell at Bar Beach. The regular walk still allows a great coffee and muffin because they are doing it right. Signs about social distancing, using disposable cups, wiping down surfaces regularly and personable people trying hard to keep their jobs is comforting to us all. Mostly every person was doing it right. However there are some oldies and young people up the other end of the beach still not getting it, but 90 per cent of people are trying. Let us hope the selfish few do not keep us all indoors by next week.
Wendy Atkins, Cooks Hill
WITH all the millions collected in the bushfire appeal, could not some of this money be used to alleviate some of the pressures that some of the communities are now facing? We were told it was for emergencies, so why not now?
John Matthews, Belmont North
MAC Maguire, your words have never been more poignant, (Short Takes, 24/3). They point out the tragedy of the complete failure of Australia's "fair go" ethos. I wonder how often we will hear "politics of envy" thrown at those doing it hard now that there are so many.
Graeme Tychsen, Rankin Park
THE bride and I, 92 and 95, pick up bread and milk mid-morning every second or third day. What would be a good time to go down for toilet paper?
Ron Elphick, Buff Point
I RECKON that to save frustration supermarkets should display a large sign saying they have no toilet paper at the entrance to their car park and at the shop entrance, or when it will be available. Petrol stations used this method when fuel was not available during fuel shortages, so why not supermarkets? It's bad enough rising so early; at least allow us to drive on.