MANITOULIN – For Sudbury’s Lola Harvey and her husband, Manitoulin was love at first sight, but a recent encounter in a local grocery store left her more than a little rattled, and while it hasn’t soured her on the Island, the incident left her reluctant to return to that establishment.
“We come here all the time,” she said of Manitoulin. “We bought an RV and now stay the summer.”
Ms. Harvey, whose voice reflects European origins, was standing in line at the grocery store. “I was buying something I had forgotten,” she said. “A man in front of me got upset. He said ‘keep your distance’ and was very rude.”
“I told him ‘you are ignorant, a crazyman’,” she said. “He was really rude. ‘You are not from here, you want to stay home,’ he said.”
“I understand that people here are frightened,” she said. “But the store is very close and we like it. We are buying something. I had a mask on (before that accessory became mandatory in most stores) and I didn’t think I was near him. I understand, nobody wants to sick, but you don’t have to be rude. Why should I go back there? There are so many other stores.”
The interchange was loud and obviously uncomfortable for the staff and other customers in the line.
“The staff and another woman in line, they looked ashamed,” she said. “They said ‘we are not like that.’ He was just one—not the grocery store, not at all the other people.”
Ms. Harvey went on to say that she loves the Island and the people she has met here and she and her family are careful to follow all of the rules, isolating at their summer home except for forays out to local stores.
“My son is a supervisor at a grocery store in Sudbury, I know how hard this has been on the people who work in the grocery stores,” she said. “But the workers, here on the Island too, are pretty friendly.”
Asked if there is a message that she would like to get out to those in the community who might react rudely when they encounter those who live on the Island during the summer months, Ms. Harvey doesn’t hesitate.
“Chill out, we have come to buy,” she advises. “Businesses here depend on their customers in the summer to help them stay open all year. We don’t want to be sick either.”
Most stores have instituted curbside service, she adds, so there is no need to go inside and be rude to those standing behind you in line.