News from Plague Acres

Grocery Hellscape

I went grocery shopping Monday afternoon.

Normally Joe does the grocery shopping, even before March 14, when the world was young. When we first heard of the pandemic possibility, he went out and stocked up on hunker-down foods, so we were totally prepared, almost to survivalist levels.


Be that as it may, Joe continued to brave the grocery store. The first couple of times after the lockdown, he'd put on the mask and gloves and venture into the wild, returning with groceries and a full complement of fear and loathing. It would take him a couple hours to unwind and be himself again. As everyone adapted, it got slightly less stressful.

Then he started feeling poorly - heavy fatigue, mostly, and then a cough. He had no other symptoms - no fever, no chills, no breathing problems. We both worried though, because if he had It, then I had It, and while he is in the high-risk old man group, I am in the doomed old woman immuno-compromised cancer group. But I continued to feel fine, so on Monday I did the grocery shopping.

The store requires masks and distancing while inside. Luckily, it was not crowded, so distancing was easy. Also luckily, the Vice President wasn't shopping, so everyone had a mask. The kid outside the store spritzed my cart handle before I went in, too.

Even so, it was nerve wracking. I've only been in this particular store a couple of times, so I had to wander more than I wanted to. I was also on high alert - is that person getting too close? Is there anyone in the the cereal aisle? Where the hell is the pet food? Is that the right pot pie? (Ah, if only it were a pot pie, if you get my drift.) I got a little overheated. My glasses fogged up when my mask slipped down. The mask drew in real close to my nose when I inhaled.

Finally, I had to run the hellish gauntlet of the self-checkout. It kept yelling at me about putting my items on the bagging counter. I kept it waiting, apparently. I scanned the expensive container of almonds twice and had to get help from two attendants, who stood right next to me, ARGH. I got increasingly flustered, but kept breathing deeply and concentrating. I loaded everything into the cart, paid, and beat feet out the door into the (goddammit) rain.

We got home and unloaded. Wait a minute, where's the fucking ground beef? Not only that, where are the pot pies? And the steaks?! AND THE RECEIPT? Yes, friends, I left a bag at the store. I simply didn't see it, even though I checked. I thought about going back to the store, but I. Just. Couldn't. I couldn't! After I finished berating myself, I thought - you know, it's not that much money. Whoever picked up the bag, whether it was a grocery clerk, another shopper, whoever - may they have some nice meals. A pot pie for lunch, meat sauce on their spaghetti, a lovely steak with their eggs for breakfast. Shine it on, shine it on, shine it on. 

I totally got Joe's wound up-ed-ness. I thought maybe we were just a couple of old nut bags, and then I read this article from the Washington Post. We are not alone.