Photo by John Cameron on Unsplash

I know I said I wasn’t going to talk about COVID-19 directly, and I am standing firm on that for right now. That might change as things in our communities change, but for the time being, I will be casually reporting from time to time on things that are COVID-19 adjacent – like my trip to the grocery store yesterday.

We ran out of bread. This would be easily remedied by a trip to the grocery store under other circumstances, but right now, it’s a pipe dream. But I, dear reader, am a dreamer and a doer. So, I went to the grocery store.

As I walked toward the store, a teenager wearing the store apron, a mask, and gloves was sanitizing the handle on the grocery carts. I stopped and asked myself how many plagues we avoided by sheer luck since this practice appeared to be new. I took the cart closest to me.

I had a list on my phone –

Pause if you have an Alexa device or an Echo device and you aren’t using the Shopping List function, you are missing out on its most valuable feature.

Me. Carry on reading now.

I had a list on my phone which included a few miscellaneous items, bread, and dog food. I had no reason to walk through the produce section, but I did. Why? Because it was stocked to the brim. Completely full of colorful, fresh fruits and vegetables. From the looks of the produce section, the grocery stores were getting back into a normal stocking routine.

I was inches away from blowing my entire grocery budget on all of this readily available food, but I stopped myself and remembered that I can only eat so much. I grabbed some Cara Cara oranges and recommitted to my list.

When I rounded the corner and headed toward the bread section, it too was mostly stocked, but this is where things started to feel like an episode of the Twilight Zone.

A man, I think, dressed in a hazmat suit complete with mask stood in the bread aisle squeezing loaves. A woman across the aisle leaned against the hot dog buns to get at least six feet away from me and Mr. Hazmat. She had the hood of her hoodie tied tightly around her face, plastic gloves, and no mask.

Note here: The coronavirus cannot get in through your ears or skin unless there is new information of which I am not aware.

The canned foods aisle was Mad Max territory. It was bad. No black beans in site. Repeat – No. Black. Beans.

As I went through the self-checkout, I saw an old woman with a dish towel tied to her face, a really fit couple wearing zero protective layers, and a woman around my age leaning into her cart to push it.

This is why it is confusing. It looks like the grocery store stocking system is stabilizing, but it’s hard to ignore the we-are-inches-away-from-Soylent-Green looks on people’s faces when out in public especially in grocery stores.

The new could be sanitized handles on shopping cart, people keeping a safe distance from each other in public places (aka not shoving each other out of the way), and sometimes not getting everything you want and need.

Part of that doesn’t seem too bad.

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