So it’s been over four months since we first started sheltering in place. The only time I had heard that phrase before, was when I worked at Kaiser in Richmond, CA, and if there was a fire or chemical spill at the nearby oil refinery, we had to stay indoors with our windows shut, maybe for a day or two.
We imagined at first, on those fateful days in March, that if we were good little boys and girls and stayed still, inside, that in about 3 weeks, this dreadful flu would fizzle out. We could beat it.
Well, here it is, July 26th, and the US has 1/5 of the Covid19 cases in the entire world, and in every one of the last 3 days, 1000 Americans have died from the disease. Even the president finally acknowledged yesterday that there might be a problem, and canceled his Republican convention. He also said something about not All of the schools need to open. Most people I know with kids are having a hard time helping their kids with online schooling at home, while they themselves are working there, but they love their children too much to risk sending them off to classes and putting them and their teachers at risk.
In the meantime, we are still here at South Lake Tahoe, CA, retired, with no small children to take care of, but we try to make sure to take care of ourselves. When it comes time to go grocery shopping every couple of weeks, we try to figure out the best way to be careful. Usually in the morning, most stores have a special time for seniors, or “at risk” people to shop in a store that has been sanitized and most times is still being restocked . We try to aim for that time, sporting our masks, and armed with a disinfectant wipe to cleanse the shopping cart handle. Next, we go over our list, and try to stick together, being efficient. Unfortunately, by the time we make it to the back of the store, I don’t like to be cold, near the refrigerated cases, and Doug is in his favorite section, ready to stock up on meat and fish. I volunteer to go find the other things on our list, like flour, and chocolate chips, and rice and beans, in the warmer aisles. I come trotting back to our cart with all the necessities I can find, and run back off, saying “I’ll be in aisle 9!”. Later, we finally get back together in produce, where we agree on enough fruits and vegetables to last quite awhile. If the fruit gets old, we’ve been known to make applesauce, and one day last week I make some great peach cobbler. Mostly we’ve been really good about not letting anything go to waste. Unfortunately, with all the cooking and baking that’s been going on, it’s going to our waist.
Our grocery basket full, we venture to the front of the store to choose which line we’ll stand in. They all seem long, since we have to stand 6 feet apart on round stickers on the floor. A couple of the lines extend down the aisles. There’s a sign that tells you not to put your items on the conveyor belt until instructed by the checker. Plastic bags are handed out freely, unfortunately, and not charged for. Bringing in your own bags is discouraged, but if you do, you must fill them yourselves, without putting them on the counter. One other option is to just have the bagger re-insert your groceries back in to the cart, and you get to pack up your bags when you get out to the car. It gives you some respect for the baggers that have done it for you for years.
After all of this, we rub our hands one more time with our wipe so we can keep the door handle clean, and then it’s in to the car to spray disinfectant on our hands. Our masks will have to be brought in the house to be washed by hand with dish soap, after their excursion through a possibly infection-ridden place, by such an invisible threat. It’s too bad that this may be our “new normal” for quite some time.