The Virus Diary: April 17th: The Weekly Grocery Shopping Update

Who ever thought I'd be blogging about my grocery shopping experiences?  But then who thought we'd be experiencing a pandemic?

I had to look back on past blogs.  This was 6th grocery trip in "pandemic time" (I really like my friend who is  a Pastor's way of marking the calendar in "extraordinary time" better, but it doesn't seem like the right way to mark grocery shopping.)  The first two trips my husband went with me because that's the way we've (almost) always done it.  This was my fourth trip on my own. (I was going to say alone, but that's not right either.)

What does it say about your and/or your life when you have trouble sleeping the night before you go grocery shopping?  What does it say when you have weird dreams about the grocery store before going?  (Why was I shopping with my mother and my son?  Why did we split up?  Why was the produce in strange places throughout the store and not in one section?  Why am I telling you all this wacky dream?)

After last week's adventure, my local (who lives locally) left me some masks to use.  No underwear on my head for me today.  Although in some strange way, I'm sad about that.  Shows you what kind of person I am that actually kind of likes wearing an underwear mask!  It hid my unwashed hair pretty well... (I don't wash my hair until after I get home.  Although I shower every night, after my grocery adventures I unload the car and then strip down and take a shower just in case.)

I wore a hat today in addition to the mask.  Not to hid the ugly hair (although it helped) but because it was cold out.  I can remember several Fridays ago (how they all fade into one giant mass) where I sat out in my yard and got some sun. (Of course that was also before they started doing massive construction on what was once my family home and the view  changed.  As did the noise level!)  It's been cold, windy and mostly overcast.  This is spring?  I suppose it is; I'm just longing for better spring like weather here.  I've been feeling "cold" most days.  I could turn the heat up, but I think it's more than that.  I think a chill has settled in me.  I'm not saying I'm sick.  (Although I do worry about that especially since we have entered spring allergy season and despite the cold there is plenty in bloom to make me sniff, sneeze and wheeze.)  I'm thinking partly a reaction to this whole situation.  

I had heard last week over the PA system that the store was opening earlier (and not just for seniors), so I decided to leave my house at the opening time (so I would get there 15 minutes after they opened).  Because I wasn't 100% sure that this was NOT just for seniors, I called the store.  (Their website still had the regular hours listed.)  To my surprise (and pleasure) I got a person who answered my question and confirmed what I already knew.

As I went into the store, there was a manager at the entrance, who I thanked.  He had a walkie talkie (are they still called that) and gave a headcount of how many people were in the store at the time.

The produce at that hour was not so great, but it was obvious they were restocking.  I got what I was able to and continued shopping.  Shelves were still being filled at that hour, but I was able to get a couple of items that I had been able to get last week.  There were even some paper products!  (Yes, I got a roll of Bounty even though I had purchased another brand in bulk previously.  I LOVE my Bounty. )  There are limits to many items and if I need them I try to buy less than that limit.  So you can purchase four frozen vegetable items; I buy three.  You can buy one pack of tissues; so I buy a single box rather than a four pack.

The most challenging part of today's shopping excursion was checking out.  There were only 2 cashiers open (the self-check was open and available, but that is limited to 20 items and EVERYONE had much more than that!).  The line was long.  Although really not that long because although it stretched back a long ways, most of us were trying to keep the 6 foot distance (as marked on the floor.)  I'm guestimating that from the time I got on the line to the time I got in my car and drove away was about 30 minutes.  Of course that includes bagging the groceries, paying for them, loading them into the car and re-arranging so that the items I picked up for others were in individual bags (something I couldn't do as I tried to quickly bag in the store...I don't want to hold anyone else up.)  

When it comes to grocery shopping, the new word is patience.  We need to all be patient.  I heard someone complaining about the line and getting to work.  To be honest, I had to get to work to (although I work from home) and I didn't want to be on that line either.  I wanted to whine and complain, but I didn't.  Not because I'm a better person (I'm not), but because I don't want to share that negativity, especially around the people who are working so hard to make this possible.  I should be glad that I am able to get out and shop.  I should be glad that I am able to get most of the item I need.

Driving to and from the store is a breeze these days since there are so few cars on the road and now.  I was able to drop off supplies to friends, unload and put away most of my groceries, shower and run a wash all before 8:30.  Now it's time for the "real" day to begin.

Let me wrap this up with the note I sent to my grocery store today via messenger.  Although it is meant for my specific store, my sentiments are for all who have suddenly become essential workers: 

"This message is for R who I thanked when I walked out today. As I told him, the woman on register 11 (I should know her name; we've spoken so many times and I know she is also a manager) is phenomenal. Actually you and your whole team are wonderful. You always have been. (I've been shopping at your store for over 10 years). You have a great crew and I know you are all working so hard and it IS appreciated. I just want to say thank you a million times.

"Actually what I want is to return to my "regular" Friday morning shopping with my husband. Where we don't wear masks. Where I can wave to Mary on register 1. Where I can check out with Vicki on register 13. Where the lady behind the fish counter always manages to get me exactly a pound and a half of salmon. Where I can say hello to you all and not have to stay 6 feet away. I'm looking forward to that day whenever it may be...keep up the great work. Be proud of what you do. Know that just seeing you on Friday mornings bring a smile to my face (behind the mask). Bless you all!"


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