Slice of Life 2020: Day 26
Grocery shopping is not what it used to be. Not three three weeks ago, we could find a cart, fondle the fruit, stare at the selection of granola in the health foods department, visit with neighbors in the aisles, find manager’s specials, place elbows on the customer service counter, and get toilet paper.
Those days are all gone now.
Tonight I went up to the local Publix. Someone had to wipe my cart down before I could use it. There was no lingering in the produce section long enough to investigate a fruit as people were near. You can’t be too near people in the grocery stores any more.
If I saw someone I knew, I’d move right along, keeping that pace to get out of there as quickly as possible. The manager’s specials were all bought up. Placing elbows on any surface, much less a hand, meant personal contact which was strictly prohibited. I kept my elbows inside my sweater. Toilet paper was being restocked as I strode past with my buggy.
Times have changed.
Now, people have panic in their eyes. They are spooked that they must enter the store at all, but do so out of necessity. There are new faces running the place: new managers and bag boys. Folks are wearing gloves and masks. As I went to the truck with my load of goods, I noticed a pair of latex gloves that had been hastily ripped off and discarded by my passenger door. Their appearance is symbolic of this crisis in which we find ourselves. No one picked the gloves up.
I opened the back of my truck and began to put my groceries inside when I heard, “Can I help you with that, Ma’m?” I turned around. It was a small woman who kept the appropriate 6 feet distance.
“Thank you,” I said. And she leaned in and helped me with my load. She wasn’t wearing gloves or a mask.
“A lot of folks don’t want no help right now, and I just wanted to ask before I came over,” she said. Then she began to tell me about her day and the crowds and the parking lot and the shelves. The grocery store has changed for her too.
After saying goodbye, I stepped into my truck, squirted two pumps of sanitizer on my hands, and rode away.