A Trip to the Grocery Store
I ventured out into the world today for a trip to the grocery store. Yes, I could have waited. I have lentils, rice, beans, eggs, flour, oil, over-wintered chard, new spring radishes, and arugula out in the garden, and milk in the freezer that hopefully will make yogurt. But, I decided to go out.
There was a dual purpose. A friend had agreed to put a new screen on my iPhone 7+. After breaking the screen a third time, I purchased a smaller and less expensive model that fit my hand, but since that big phone has a much better camera, I’m hoping to put it back in service to use as a second camera when Virtual Pie Camp goes live next month. So, off we went, Gretapie (GP) and me.
First stop was the farm store to hand off the phone and new screen to my friend and shop. The parking lot was full and so were the lines of people standing 6-feet apart waiting to get through the check-out stands. My friend was in the first line and recognized me despite my masked face and gloved hands. It kinda felt like a drug deal when I handed the envelope with the phone and screen to him. We exchanged a few words and then I got on with my first round of shopping.
Bananas, lemon curd, a new cheese cloth, cauliflower, and mushrooms. I saw cornmeal and whole wheat flour on the shelf. I put a bag of cornmeal in my basket, but left the flour for others as I have some at home. There was a beautiful purple and white African violet on display and I came close to bringing it home, but in the end decided to leave it for some one else, too. On to the check-out line. When I was nearly done, I screwed up punching the numbers in on the card reader. The clerk (thank you to all the essential workers!) was kind and patient. I said to her how it seems we are learning to smile with our eyes. She replied that people really are looking directly at each other now—over their masks—and asked if I wanted her to put my items in the bag I had brought. I said yes and waited for the machine to finish the transaction. Then on to the big box store.
There was off and on sun today so I found a shady spot to park the car, cracked down the windows for GP, checked my gloves and mask, got a push cart, showed my card, and entered. I was already feeling stressed like I do when going through TSA at the airport. There were more people inside then I have seen in well over a month but instead of feeling connected to humanity, I just wanted to get on with my shopping and out of there as quickly as possible. It seemed to me that about a third of the customers inside were not wearing masks or adhering to the 6-foot distancing request that the speakers broadcast out in a calm voice every 5 minutes.
When I got to the cheese case there were two men (one in one of those motorized carts) having a conversation right in front of the cheese I wanted. I waited at a distance. Then waited some more, trying not to eavesdrop on their conversation, yet hoping that they would see me and move on. They didn’t, so I decided to circle back later for the cheese. Out of curiosity I headed to the TP aisle and saw it fully stocked, then pushed my cart up to check out the staples–sugar, flour, oil, rice, and beans. There were plenty of bags of flour at “one to an order only.”
While I was paying, I heard a customer at the next check-out stand very vocally complain about our state not opening up yet. After they left, I mentioned to the clerk that both my grandparents passed away within hours of each other in the flu epidemic of the last century, then pushed my cart over to the line to have my receipt checked so I could exit.
GP was happy to see me when I got back to the car to load up. I pushed the cart back to the entry area, and headed home. As I drove, that African violet was calling to me, but not enough to stop again. With each store I felt myself getting tenser and more stressed, and all I wanted to do was get back home where I feel safe. I imagine that at some point in the future my feelings will change, but it may be quite some time before I feel at ease heading out into the physical world to do something as basic as shopping for groceries, an outing I used to enjoy and take so for granted.