Off to the Grocery


I’m not really one for writing a journal or a diary or anything like that. I do, however, believe this particular juncture in history deserves a few thoughts.

So, I went to the grocery with my husband early this morning. It didn’t open until seven, so we were there when the doors opened. There were people waiting, no doubt with the very same idea. Early bird gets the worm or in this case snags the toilet paper. Who would have thought? It’s a great day when I can find toilet paper. So, the ratio of masked to unmasked individuals was about 50 to 50 today. Some of the cashiers and the store manager in particular, who we recognized, were unmasked. Maybe they got a memo we didn’t that things aren’t as perilous anymore. Though with the yo-yo sort of messaging we seem to be getting these days from the top, its anybody’s guess. But my husband and I were masked. Better to err on the side of caution, we’ve always said.

But back to the grocery. I’ve got to say I’ve never been a great fan of going to the grocery. But these days, in the midst of a pandemic, I will admit I absolutely dread it. We try to only go once a week. And are in and out as quickly as we can. And meals are planned these days around what we can get, rather than what we want. Let me be clear though. I’m not so obtuse not to realize than many people have it much worse and have had it much worse before this even started. This is my observation and acknowledgement that things have changed. A lifestyle that admittedly we all took for granted is there no more. We have to adjust and wait to see what comes next.

Back to the grocery. There are kindnesses there, a grocery store employee stocking the shelves, masked, who goes out of his way to locate what I need. Who I thank profusely, because I appreciate the small kindnesses right now, and no one can tell if I’m smiling behind my mask. There are frustrations, people stopping with their baskets in the middle of the aisle unconcerned that they leave no path around them, no way to maintain that social distance. Sure, you can wait, but it does go on and on.

And the feeling. That is the worst. Trips to the grocery were never this taxing. But the place is permeated with a sense of urgency, anxiety, and yes sadness. Those afraid their world has changed, is lost, and will never come back again. And those who resist, refuse to acknowledge the change.

I was always amazed with people after terrorism attacks or gun violence who just refuse to act with any sort of caution, who will not allow their behavior to be altered. After the mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado’s movie theater, I would not step foot in a movie theater for some time. If there was a shark attack off a beach in Florida, I was not going in the water. But others, well, they will not allow their lives to change. Which is their choice, I suppose. But how is this different? Oh yes, we’re all connected. If you go on your merry way and don’t social distance, don’t wear a mask, you could get sick, then spread it to me. You might be fine, but me, not so much. Like Mother Theresa says, “We all belong to each other.” I don’t know about you, but I feel the weight of that. I suppose this is a time to look around. Any moment that guy over there, who is suffering, who is out of work, who doesn’t have enough to eat, could be me. So, if I take care of him, if we all take care of him, maybe when it’s my turn, someone will help me out. It all turns on a dime. Think about it. I do, all the time.

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