Shopping to the Apocalypse

grocery-shoppingcould have been answering trivia questions at that dark and somewhat creepy bar in Dundee. I could have been at home hunched over a crossword puzzle with Grace and Frankie fighting in the background. But instead, there I was, fighting for a parking spot in the jam-packed parking lot of Woodman’s Food Market, our favorite weekly stock-up store. But this was no routine weekly stock-up!

As I maneuvered past cars snarling up the parking lot, Barb snagged a hard-to-find stray shopping cart, nearly being side-swiped by a hulking SUV for her efforts.

We met up in the produce aisle. I grabbed the last remaining bananas from the shelf display, looking around at the mob of people around us. We were all there stuffing our carts with paper goods, and canned goods, and frozen goods (frozen veggies were hard to find,) but I am not sure any of us knew exactly why.

Were we preparing for self-quarantine? Were we stocking up before the apocalypse happened and the zombies rose from their graves? Were we there because someone in our office had mentioned it would be a good idea to be prepared, though prepared for what was never quite clear? Did all these people in one store really do anything to flatten the contagion curve?

In any case, it was a friendly mob, a quiet riot. Every shopping cart appeared to be filled to the top–an 18-pack of toilet paper takes up a lot of cart space. Yet I didn’t see anyone dragging more than one cart–people were intent on fulfilling their needs but no one was in panic mode. There were no face masks and fortunately, no one was coughing. There were also a lot of upscale shoppers we suspected had never entered a midscale Woodman’s store before. We hoped they were aware of the limited credit card policy before they waited in line at the checkout counter.

About those lines at checkout. The lines were long and moved slowly, the wait in the 45-minute range, but I didn’t hear a single complaint. People had confabs with their line neighbors, comparing purchases. Our son Michael happened to be midway through one line, but I passed up the chance to do a Larry Davidesque chat-cut. I might have tried it another day, but on Corona Thursday, I assumed that particular technique would not have been appreciated by the dozens of shoppers behind him. As it turned out, our line moved much faster than Michael’s, saving my 5 lb bag of frozen blueberries from an in-store thaw.  Eventually, it was our turn to have our cartload rung up and leave the party behind.

A shout out of appreciation to the Woodman’s workers. While our cashier was only in the 3rd hour of his shift, our bagger was on his 13th. I heard one cashier apologizing to her boss that she just couldn’t work more than 12 hours. And she really seemed depressed about it. I think she felt guilty for not working more.

This morning the world is still spinning, and I assume there will be some bar trivia in my future. And to that tired cashier at Woodman’s at the end of her long shift–don’t sweat it girl, you will get another chance to serve us on another day.

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photo credit: Darren Johnson / iDJ Photography BOBBY. via photopin (license)

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