Chapter 40: COVID Chronicles

By Karen

Day 57

Conquered My Grocery Phobia & Got a Faceful of Tony

I almost chickened out, I’ll confess. Since freelancing and never setting an alarm, I’m no longer one of those leap-out-of-bed-and-out-the-door types. This morning I did dressed as if to go out, but by the time I did my morning routine, Food Lion was well past its freshly scrubbed first hour. Besides, work was rolling in, so I started thinking up excuses. Remember, the last time I saw a grocery store was March 11.

But at lunchtime, I grabbed my mask and just went for it. And I’m really glad it’s over.

Cars in the parking lot seemed about normal for midday, not a good sign. As I put on my mask, I saw other customers wearing them, which WAS a good sign.

But just inside the door, the wipes dispenser was empty and the only carts were family-of-eight sized. The Lion’s subtle message to, “Load up good because you don’t want you dropping by,” perhaps?

I didn’t see the sign on the cold produce room about only five people allowed in until I left it. But it was OK, with only me, another masked customer, and an unmasked employee stocking salad greens who didn’t budge when I approached to grab a package.

In fact, lots of stocking was happening and hardly any employees were wearing masks or moving if you needed what they were blocking. I get it. In their shoes, I’d be fed up with customers and getting a little passive-aggressive myself.

Nevertheless many shelves were bare, and the meat section was slim pickings. I bought rice because there were only three bags left, even though I won’t need it for a couple of months. No telling what the crazy hoarders will fixate on next. I also got a couple of bags of dried beans and a package of ground turkey I hadn’t planned on, maybe as my last fresh meat for a while.

Frozen processed meats were still plentiful, so I got bags of Tyson chicken patties and Any’tizers Honey BBQ Bites because those will get scarce with all the Tyson plants closing.

What I didn’t score was yeast, butter and a quart of skim milk. The yeast was gone, and so was flour. The only butter left was expensive European two-stick packs. And skim milk was only in half-gallons expiring next week, so I made do with nonfat coffee creamer.

Another impulse buy was a bunch of green onions so I can try regrowing them, an easy trick I found online the other day.

The maskless cashier was behind plexiglass, but he came out around it to hand me my bags so we were an arm’s length apart, and the guy in line behind me only gave me about four feet, even though the floor was marked.

Yesterday, just as I finished posting the day’s entry, Tony showed up and wouldn’t take “No” for an answer when it came to quittin’ time and me popping open a can for his dinner…

And Roc says “Howdy!” from the linen closet, which I couldn’t pry him out of after I made the mistake of opening the door for a second. Any seldom-seen inch of the house is a big treat for them these days…

2 Responses to Chapter 40: COVID Chronicles

  1. Margeaux says:


    Glad that your shopping trip is behind you.
    For now….I’ve learned that unless one goes out early, I just don’t go to certain stores. Just yesterday my husband thought he was trotting out the door after 4:00 to Costco. I had to remind him of pre-covid going at that hour we couldn’t find our two whole chickens since they’re disappearing earlier in the day.

    I did my shopping trip last Friday, late in the day alone.
    Pleasantly surprised to find the meat was plentiful. Not as if I stock up on that so much. But did buy some ground beef, since my husband was craving meat loaf. Overall they were pretty well stocked.

    It must have been the hour and day I shopped; there were definitely more people in this Smart & Final. People had masks on. This store is warehousy, so big. But if you’re in the produce section that area has smaller isles. As I was looking at carrots an elderly man come right behind me w/his shopping cart, didn’t say excuse me, so as to warn me. I turned & was met mask to mask by this idiot. I immediately gave him my back and decided to refrain from calling him out for this too. He looked very frail & mentally compromised. Distance abusers were a plenty by the ice cream section.

    I’ve made up my mind that I’ll just have to make it a point to go at that third ager hour many stores are offering now.

    Yes, I’ve heard that yeast is in short supply these days. I keep forgetting to buy some, so haven’t had that experience yet.
    I need some for my pizza dough.

    Fish is more expensive now. How wonderful, now that were faced with other protein shortages.

    Speaking of food…..I’m hungry. Remembering how delicious those pics of your French toast looked. Ahhh breakfast! I love breakfast.


  2. catsworking says:

    Margeaux, on the few occasions I’ve gone out, it’s been before noon. The earlier the better, because the stores may have been wiped down a bit and everything hasn’t been pawed over, but most senior hours around here at 7-9 a.m. and that’s just too early for me to be bopping around.

    In Food Lion, the aisles weren’t one way, so I had to pass several people and employees by just a few feet. I didn’t run into clusters of people anywhere. And that just gave me another thought about why they’ve hid the small carts. The big boats are really long, so they keep people distanced naturally at the checkout. With the small carts, you could be within about 3 feet of somebody.

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