I used the last onion 4 days ago, ate the last apple day before yesterday. We’d been out of bananas and garlic and salad fixings for a while. No fresh meat left in the fridge, we were reduced to eating packaged food out of the freezer last night.
Time to go to the grocery store.
Grocery shopping has never been my favorite thing to do, but on the list of household chores it used to be the least repugnant. Now it’s something out of a Twilight Zone episode.
Resenting having to be out so early, I turned into the store parking lot at 7:30 this morning, detailed list (organized into like store aisles for faster shopping), antiseptic wipes and mask piled next to me in the passenger seat.
Good. The parking lot was relatively empty.
I note two women going in, masks in place, hands covered in gloves, eyes covered in glasses. A man coming out is similarly dressed. I sigh and done my own attire.
Here’s something I’ve learned about myself: I feel claustrophobic wearing a nose and mouth mask. I start to breathe faster, my glasses fog up and then I feel like I can’t breathe. At home, practicing, I can only go a few minutes before I need to rip the mask off my face. Actually wearing one for an entire shopping expedition, especially since I’m trying to buy enough stuff for at least two weeks, will be an experiment.
I figure at worst I’ll run screaming out of the store, leaving my partially filled basket behind. I doubt I’d be the first.
The store wasn’t busy, everyone was going about their business, not looking at anyone else. I guess when you’re wearing a mask and glasses and gloves you’re somewhat anonymous. Apparently there’s no time for friendly when shopping these days. It’s all about survival now. In fact, as I looked down the aisles and noted that everyone there looked like a bank robber, I decided I didn’t feel very friendly either.
Shopping was a big adjustment for me. I hadn’t been out of the house in almost two weeks, except to walk the dog around the yard. To find myself in a store with a long and detailed list, surrounded by new signs including those designating one-way aisles was almost overwhelming.
I suddenly felt…well…elderly.
Wearing my glasses over the nose piece of the mask wasn’t comfortable, and they were no longer at the right distance from my eyes. Things were kind of blurry. Plus did I mention they fogged up if I breathed too fast? But not wearing them was worse because then everything was blurry, and I couldn’t even read my complicated list.
Time to just suck it up.
Grateful that I had segmented my list I moved as quickly as I could. I found most of what I needed, and I only had to circle around a few times when I encountered wrong way signs. Sometimes, to be honest, I ignored them.
There were fewer things out of stock than my last trip to the store, though there were still plenty of empty shelves. I didn’t go down the paper goods aisle, so I can’t tell you about the toilet paper inventory. I’ve heard there’s still a shortage.
In the end I forgot the eggplant (the produce was the most difficult for me because I was still adjusting to breathing and seeing at the same time), and I couldn’t find any baking soda or flour.
I’m chalking this trip up to a success.
Standing on the blue sign labeled “STAND HERE” at the checkout line I watched the man in front of me unload his overflowing cart. Mine looked the same, in fact it was so heavy it was hard to push. I looked like I was buying for a family of twelve.
Two Hundred forty-eight dollars and eighteen cents later I escaped the store to the parking lot, ready to unload everything into the back of the car and get out of there. I took the mask off and breathed deep.
Twenty-eight degrees and sun felt wonderful.
I’ve never spent so much money at one time in the grocery store. Rarely in any other store for that matter! Lugging it into the kitchen was another adventure, but now it’s put away and I am safe, back in my cocoon of a home where I hope to stay for at least the next two weeks.
If this was a glimpse into our future I will be very sad. I hope someday to drop into the grocery store for a couple items like I once did. I look forward to smiling at other people, chatting over the produce, standing a bit to debate the merit of salmon over trout. I’d like the time to weigh the benefit of fresh versus frozen.
I dream of being able to go free-form and shop without a list.
But until then, I’ll shelter in place and reminisce about the good ole days when grocery shopping was just an inconvenience.
And when breathing was easier too.