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Enjoying a simple pleasure in the time of COVID-19


Last updated 4/25/2020 at 1:13am

Grocery shopping one day a week has been my routine for years. The unhurried process that allowed time to chat with friends, investigate a display of exotic cheeses or read the labels on new products introduced by a celebrity TV chef was enjoyable.

In the time of COVID-19, the once pleasurable experience has changed.

Before I get out of my car in the parking lot, I put on my facemask and my disposable gloves. Since cloth grocery bags are not allowed in the store, I leave them in the car.

When I enter the store in my mask, I notice all of the store employees are wearing masks too. I smile, but no one can see it.

Ticking off items on my grocery list, I look for the products I need. When another shopper heads toward me in an aisle, I take another aisle where I am the only shopper. I find the section for toilet paper and tissue where a sign warns, “One item only,” so I take one of each.

I seek black beans for a recipe, and there is one can – organic and expensive – but I grab it quickly. The rest of the shelf is empty.

Having found most of the items on my list and a few substitutes for other things what I needed, I get in line to check out. I stand 6 feet behind the person in front of me. There are “X” marks on the floor as guides. I put my items on the conveyor belt, and once checked, they are placed into an empty cart so that I can bag them myself outside the store.

After I check out – and it’s raining – I push my cart to my car on the run, open the trunk, open the bags I could not bring inside and hurriedly fill them, making sure I don’t put cans of soup on top of an egg carton. Finally, I collapse inside my car, take off the gloves, take off the mask and drive home exhausted.

I used to like grocery shopping, but now, instead of being pleasurable, it’s unpleasantly complicated. I know it sounds silly and perhaps selfish, and many people face the same daunting task. I believe my life will return to normalcy in the months ahead, and I thank God for a modest income, good health and the stellar job the market’s employees perform each day on my behalf.

Sarah Bates


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