Photo by Jenn Stone
Last Sunday, I decided to venture out to the grocery store. The fridge and pantry were both displaying a vast amount of empty space. I choose Sunday because the grocery store chain that I frequent most often sent out of communication that stated that Sundays, along with Monday and Tuesday evenings were the least busy times at their stores. I have no problem going for groceries under the current circumstances. I do have a problem with being at the grocery store with all the people who are strolling the aisles just to get out of the house and not being careful and considerate. And I do consider the fact that I have more time than others so I can go when others can’t or prefer not to.
I arrived at the store just after 1:00 pm. The parking lot did not appear busy, and I wondered to myself whether there would be wipes when I got inside. Not only were there wipes, there was a staff member diligently wiping down all the grocery carts. I was so surprised to see this that I thanked him profusely, sounding more like an blathering idiot than the levelheaded adult that I like to think I am.
There were very few people in the store. Perhaps ten people with carts at most. In a store as large as this one, it was very easy to keep our distance. Everything looked extremely clean. The produce department was vibrant with the colours of fresh fruit and vegetables. Abundance was the word that came to mind while I watched an employee add more to the selection. The grocery shelves were chock full of everything from cereal to canned food to toilet paper to chips and pop. The only empty spaces were the closed areas: the fresh fish counter, the butcher counter, the in-store bakery and the takeout food areas. Areas that require either staff or customers to be more hands on. Areas that wouldn’t be safe to keep open right now. I was able to get everything on my list plus more. I stocked up, purchasing enough to keep us going for at least two weeks. At least. We are not going to die of starvation.
In one aisle, I saw Ruthie. She has worked at this store since it opened about twenty years ago. Ruthie, I am sure, is older than me. She is always willing to help. To see her there looking perhaps a bit tired but smiling and nodding hello like she always does, made me feel safe. Ruthie and the staff of this store and all the staff at grocery stores in general are doing their best to look out for those of us who only have to prepare and eat our food.
At the checkout, a young male clerk stood behind a plexiglass divider offering me another smile. “How are your doing?” I said, smiling back. “I’m chill,” he said then asked me if I wanted him to bag my groceries or if I would prefer to do it myself. I never prefer to bag my own groceries because I am a klutz and also very slow at that specific task; so I let him bag since he would be touching the groceries anyway to ring them through. This he casually mentioned while I was making up my mind. I did appreciate the offer. It is one that I know others will also appreciate. “Stay chill,” I said after loading the bags into my cart to leave; and in return, I got another smile.
I have heard stories of people going grocery shopping and finding long lineups or loads of people in the store, or empty shelves; but this was not my experience on the particular Sunday that I chose to go. So the next time I need to go for groceries, I will once again choose to go during off hours because I have the luxury of being able to do so. These days, this is a luxury that I don’t take for granted.
Thanks for reading.