Adventures in senior sunrise shopping at the grocery store during the coronavirus crisis
In the early morning of our 52nd wedding anniversary, my wife and I decided to take advantage of the special senior shopping hour – 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. – at our local food store.
An unusual way to celebrate, but one that was necessary to restock the pantry and refrigerator while “hunkering down” during the COVID-19 stay-at-home order.
The irony of the early shopping time – designed to give seniors an opportunity to move through the restocked-overnight aisles at a more leisurely pace – is that you have to drive to the store in the dark. Not a senior’s favorite time to drive.
However, the streets leading to the store were relatively empty of cars. Even the traffic signals seemed to be cooperating, changing to green at just the right time.
Parking in the store lot was a cinch. No long-walk from the car to the store door this early in the morning.
Grabbing a cart from outside the store, we wiped it down with an antiseptic cloth we brought from home. (There was a spray and paper towels available just inside the door.)
Making our way down the shopping list, I noticed a couple of things:
- There appeared to be more people stocking the shelves than people shopping. That’s a good thing.
- Those seniors who were shopping were a mixed lot. By that, I mean, some wore face masks, gloves and buttoned up jackets. Some even turned their backs as they passed other shoppers in the aisles. Others wore just masks and/or gloves. And still others were bare faced and bare handed. (Tried to figure out where those other folks found gloves and masks – both in rather short supply.)
- The paper goods aisle (i.e., toilet paper, paper towels) had seen some restocking, but what was there was disappearing rapidly.
- Hand soap dispenser refills. Not a chance.
- Hand sanitizer? Surely you jest.
- Canned tuna fish was few and far between.
- I overheard one customer asking a clerk about the availability of a canned ham. The clerk responded, “We don’t order, we just get what they send us.”
- There was plenty of bread, eggs and dairy products. Likewise, the pre-package meats were plentiful at that time of the morning.
- The vegetables and salads looked fresh.
And so we made our way around the store and ended up at one of only two checkouts that were manned (versus self-checkout). Plexiglas shields had been installed to protect the cashier and there were tape marks on the floor indicating to stay 6 feet behind the person in front of you. We knew from a previous visit not to bring our reusable cloth bags because the packers would not touch them. So we asked for – and received – paper bags. We reuse the bags to tie up our newspapers before putting them out for recycling.
It was an interesting experience. As we left the store, the sun was rising and the melancholy lyrics from the musical “Cats” – the Broadway show version, not the apparently dismal film edition – played through my mind.
I must wait for the sunrise
I must think of a new life
And I mustn't give in.
When the dawn comes
Tonight will be a memory too
And a new day will begin.
Hopefully that “new day” – a COVID-19-free day -- will not be too far away.
Gordon Freireich is a former editor of the York Sunday News. Email: email@example.com.
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