The Virus Diary: April 3: Adventures in Grocery Shopping (Again)

Three weeks since my "freaky" Friday which I guess was the official start of this pandemic diary.  How have things changed since then?

It's Friday so it's my annual visit to Shoprite.  Three weeks ago I went with my husband.  Today I went alone.  Not because his knee or ankle were bothering him (which happened last week), but because it's the responsible thing to do.  Less people, less chance of exposure.  I'm trying to be responsible, even if it is an easier job to do with two people.

I don't have a mask.  I shouldn't have a mask.  Masks should be something that medical personnel need.  But it is socially responsible now to wear a mask to protect others from yourself (in case you are a carrier).  I took a scarf and wrapped it around my neck, mouth and nose.  I did this once I got into the parking lot.  It worked, sort of.  I probably should have tied it on at home, where I could better see myself and maybe even get some help from my husband.  But I didn't.  So it only worked for about half of the time that I was there before it fell down and I couldn't get it to stay up properly.  Lesson learned for the next trip.

I also pared down what I was taking with me.  No purse for me.  Instead I made sure I wore pants with pockets and had my phone in one and in the other I had a credit card, my license and my health insurance card.  In addition to my keys, I also brought hand sanitizer, a purse size packet of tissues and the weekly circular.  My plan was to use the circular on the handle of the grocery cart as I pushed it.  This actually worked pretty well.  I had the tissue and the sanitizer to use once I was finished.  I would put the groceries in the back of my car, open the driver's side (I did not lock it so I didn't need to use the keys) and immediately sanitizer before touching the steering wheel.  Did this make a difference in the long run? Who knows?

I usually get to the store early and today was no exception.  The store opens at 7.  I got there maybe five or so minutes before.  It was already open and people were already leaving the store.  I know I saw a man in the parking lot with a pack of paper goods. (I think it was a multi-pack of toilet paper, but I could be wrong and it could have been paper towels.)  If I was thinking paper goods would be available, I was wrong.  When I finally got to the aisle that would have had tissues, toilet paper and paper towels it was still mostly barren.  There were a few single rolls of toilet paper and a note that said you could purchase one.  I still have toilet paper (for now) so I did not buy.  I hope the person that does (did?) buy whatever remains truly needs it.  

I got a cart, put my circular on it and went in.  All was good in the bakery and produce sections for the most part.  There was no freshly baked Italian bread out, but...I was able to get produce for myself and a neighbor, so all was good there.

Things started to stress me when I got to the "new" section.  (Store is still in the process of being remodeled...I don't know if they've stopped the process yet or not, but the store is not yet finished.)  Baking items, which used to be at the far end of the store are now in the middle.  The pasta and canned goods are in aisles that don't go all the way through. I ended up going back and forth in these aisles a bit because I couldn't find what I wanted right away. (Even though some of it was there.)  There was rice, but the pre-packaged rice "sides" are pretty pared down.  I picked up the flour for my neighbor, but completely forgot to get the Jell-O for myself until I was almost finished shopping and had to go all the way back.  These aisles are also more crowded and my scarf was starting to slip, so my stress level went up.

There was plenty of meat available, but I did not buy any since I have some in my freezer.  Maybe I should have?  Part of the challenge with shopping these days is making decisions when you are in the store.  Do I really need this?  Should I buy this?  Normally this wouldn't matter; if you don't get it today you can always get it tomorrow.  But that's not the case anymore.

I had no problem at the fish section and getting what I needed.  However, the woman who usually works in the section was putting out meat so I had a different employee help me.  Funny how I missed the woman who usually helps me.  Not that there was anything wrong with this other employee; it's just that I was looking for some sense of normalcy.

By the time I finished up the rest of my shopping, the scarf was off and I was climbing up a shelf to get something I couldn't reach.  Lines were also starting to form at check out.  The store has been great about reminding people to try and stay six feet away and there are marks on the floor so you don't get to close when on line.  Kudos to them for doing so.

However, by the time I got up to the register, where cashiers are now "protected" by a plastic divider (I truly hope that helps them), I realized that in my haste this morning, I had not grabbed my Shoprite card.  This is only a problem because I have no idea what the phone number associated with the card is.  I set it up so long ago, I had a different cell number and I can't for the life of me remember what it is.  When I got up to the register, it was actually a manager who was working it.  I told her I didn't have my card and I didn't know what number it was.  I was hoping she'd use the generic store card, but didn't ask because I wanted to keep things going.  I was busy trying to sort and bag.  (I am not using my own bags at this point.  When things go back the "normal" I WILL use my bags again.)  I'm trying to keep things in a sort of order, not make the bags too heavy (I am not double bagging) and keep the few items that I bought for my neighbor separate.

When I was rung up, the manager went to a podium at the front of the store where she asked for my last name and some other information.  As a result, she was able to find my card info and my total cost was reduced by about $10.  I told her how much I appreciated that, especially during this crazy time.  And I do...even during this craziness there are still wonderful people out there "on the front lines" as it were, going above and beyond.  As I exited the store, I saw another manager and made sure I thanked him and told him what a great crew he had.  A woman who was sitting on a bench nearby (obviously waiting for someone) echoed my sentiments.

When I walked out it was raining.  I loaded up the car, put the cart back where it belonged (and not leaving it in a parking spot) and pulled out.  As I did I could see there was now quite a long line to get into the store.  I'm not sure why everyone wanted to get in at eight when the store is open earlier, but... (I don't get why people are hoarding tp either.)

On my drive home, the stress got to me a little.  I realized that I missed a few items.  I realized how long it took me and that I had to get to work.  But looking back now, I realize that although I was stressed (and have every right to be...we are ALL stressing out during these difficult times), the people who work there must be more so.  I DO try to make my appreciation known every time I go and if anyone reading this works in essential services let me say THANK YOU!  I have always appreciated what you do because despite what people might think, your jobs are NOT easy, but now more than ever THANK YOU.  Because I can count on you, you can always count on a smile and a thank you from me.

So ends my grocery adventure for this week.  If you have your own adventure, be sure to practice physical distancing as best you can, be courteous and thank those who assist you.  We ARE all in this together.


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