This is the first in a series of random thoughts while being holed up during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The alarm went off at 5:40 a.m. I really didn’t want to get up. After all, what’s the point of teaching from home if I still have to get up?
There are few advantages to getting old, but when I read that Market Basket grocery stores were offering senior hours for over 60s, I thought I would cash in the old-man card and hit the store with some hope of good social distancing.
I dragged myself to the store. I grabbed a cart — wiping down the handle with my ever-present hand sanitizer which I carry around in a converted miniature vinegar bottle — and made my way inside. I didn’t need much and I figure it won’t be long before we aren’t allowed out.
It turns out I need not have rushed. This particular store didn’t have the policy and while there were a significant number of older people, I saw a couple I knew who were much younger.
I pop into this particular store every day before work to pick up breakfast. I hadn’t planned to get any this morning, but I wanted to say hello to Joan the deli manager — who knows when I’d see her again. As I walked up to the counter she handed me my “usual.” I took it as a sign. Besides it had been a week since I had had my bacon and eggs.
Joan’s house was flooded out during Hurricane Harvey in September 2017 and it has taken 30 months to finally get her new house going. I have followed her fights with FEMA and insurance companies for more than two years. I have been seeing photos of piles of empty lots, then piles of lumber and Joan showed me the shell of the house which is scheduled to be finished in April. I told her I’d see her in a month or so. I wonder if her house will be finished or if this pandemic will be the latest obstacle to getting into her house.
I picked up the few things I needed, staying a good six feet away from anyone. I nodded my head and sang along when I heard Kirsty McColl’s “They Don’t Know” playing through the speakers. Market Basket on Calder seems to have the best grocery store playlist. Kirsty was followed by The Clash’s “Train in Vain.” If I have to be up, at least give me something good to listen to
When it came time to check out, I saw Myra, another of my morning breakfast “friends,” was working the register. Before I used the pin pad for my debit card, I wiped it down with the sanitizer, apologizing and saying it wasn’t that I didn’t trust her, but…. She laughed and said she would do the same thing. We talked about the state of the world for a minute (I found out a while ago that Myra was a smart girl — and by smart, I mean she thinks about the world and follows the news).
Myra told me stories about the people who insist on telling her the pandemic is over-hyped by the media or a Democratic plot. She said smiling through that is the hardest part of her job. When she handed me the receipt, I noticed she squirted sanitizer in her hands. Like I said, she’s a smart girl.
I was back at the house by 7 a.m. It took about 15 minutes to wipe down the packages. I made a cup of tea and settled down to eat my breakfast. Who knows when I will next sit in my office with my breakfast like normal — of course, unless this is normal from now on.