His face was covered with a crisp, clean surgical mask, but there was an unmistakable weariness in his eyes, perhaps a hint of pity.
The smartly dressed attendant at Lisbon airport was trying to explain to a newly arrived Brit that the grubby cloth on his face should be covering his nose as well as his mouth.
Further, he should rinse his hands with the alcohol gel provided via the foot-operated dispenser in front of him. And, yes, his wife and children should do the same.
The passenger, a perfectly respectable family man, was bemused, repeatedly pointing to his half-hitched mask and giving the thumbs-up. Only after the attendant, now adopting the manner of a teacher, briefly lowered his own mask from his nose and returned it did the lights come on. The queue breathed a sigh of relief as the family adjusted themselves and headed off to get their rental car amid a loud chorus of "obrigados".
I've spent a lot time in Portugal over the course of the pandemic, and it seems people there "get" the basic rules of Covid hygiene in a way that has bypassed Britons. Friends in Spain, France and Italy say it's the same there.
Almost every shop, restaurant, bar and supermarket has sanitiser at the door, and you don't get in without using it. People wear clean surgical masks - €17 (NZ$30) for a pack of 50 - whenever they enter an enclosed public space, adjusting them properly and donning them even to go to the loo in a restaurant. There are few queues, and no crowding.
And here's the paradox. Life feels more normal in these places than it does at home in Britain. In the towns and villages on the coast above Lisbon, you would struggle to know there is a pandemic.
Everyone, including the elderly, is out and about and getting on with life. Most businesses are open and seemingly well on the way to financial recovery, having won customers' trust with immaculately clean surfaces and surroundings.
Even on the surf break, the talk has turned from crisis to cautious optimism. "It's not over but people are together", says Bruno Bairros, a friend of 15 years who runs a Covid secure, and now rapidly rallying local surf business.
In Britain, by contrast, angst defines the national mood. No one appears to know what the rules are, but we like nothing better to quarrel over them. The nation lives in fear of a second wave but appears to have not the faintest idea how to protect against it. Some loudly insist that the virus presents "no risk at all". Millions more daren't step from their homes lest they be struck down on the spot.
From an economic perspective alone, the situation is terrifying. In many ways, we seem less prepared for the next instalment of this crisis than we were in March when cases were climbing across continental Europe (in a not dissimilar pattern to now). At least for a few weeks back then, hand washing caught on. Now things are chaotic.
Few shops have sanitiser at the door, and this applies to the big national chains as well as to corner shops. Pubs and restaurants wonder why they are not doing much business despite the staff wandering about maskless, and shouting orders across the floor.
Even the police, initially admonished for overreacting, have had to dust off their drones again to try and stop oversized parties and wedding receptions. The revellers seem blissfully unaware they risk super spreading the virus.
I know much of this will be taken as hectoring by some. But my point is that by ignoring the basics of good hygiene, we are making things very much more difficult for ourselves.
No doubt much of the blame for the failure to adopt the basics of good hygiene is down to the yo-yo-ing of ministers. But as much as I would like to see Prof Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, back on television giving a 10-minute tutorial between programmes, I fear the politics of blame now make that impossible.
In his absence, I would urge readers to turn to listen to Dr Mike Ryan, of the World Health Organisation. His words, far from nannying, are deeply rooted in the Anglo-Saxon concepts of individualism and personal responsibility. "Everyone needs to look at their own risk," he says. "We can be advised by government, by science. But in the end, this comes down to personal motivation and personal choice. If it doesn't feel safe, it isn't safe".
Hopefully, we will escape a second wave this winter, but we need to be braced for it. As one scientist, observing how most of the US did nothing to adapt as even as Florida's cases mounted, put it: "The curse of Sars-CoV-2 seems to be that we aren't willing to look at what happens to others, and imagine it could happen here too". - Daily Telegraph