My first trip to a supermarket during a pandemic was so interesting I figured I would write about it because other people could probably relate.
I have been following the stay-at-home orders, ordering my groceries online, and haven’t been to any type of big box store since the beginning of March.
However, I had to get a prescription filled and I really needed to get a few non-grocery items so I decided to put my big girl pants on and head to Walmart.
Before hopping in my truck at the house, I made sure I had everything: mask (✔️), gloves (Wait, why do I need gloves? Are gloves really going to help?? I mean, if I have the gloves on I will still be touching stuff and getting the germs on the gloves, hmmm…better safe than sorry….gloves (✔️), a small pack of cleaning wipes (✔️), and my grocery list, which I will go ahead and give you advice on this one….write out your grocery list so you don’t have to keep touching your phone once you get to the store, grocery list (✔️).
I get in the truck and start my four mile trek to the closest Walmart. On my way, I was pretty surprised by the amount of traffic on the road. I also noticed a lot of people walking down North Sharon Amity, people at gas stations (many of them not wearing masks or gloves), everything seemed pretty normal. Then, of course, I started thinking….am I overreacting? Should I not wear the gloves in? Why aren’t these people wearing masks? Did I miss understand what our government officials were saying in the last news conference? You know, all the things we are thinking before we decide to go out into what is considered this new reality.
I decided to get out of my head and turn on some Florence + The Machine to keep my mind occupied before I got to Walmart. Once I pulled into the parking lot, the first thing I noticed was someone had spray painted anarchy symbols on the main entrance sign. Interesting….but okay, probably some kid who was bored because of the pandemic.
Next, I parked in my normal spot which is by the garden center and away from all the other cars. I immediately looked around expecting to see lots of masks, gloves, hazmat suits….I mean I expected the worst because this was my first time out since the beginning of March. To much surprise, everyone seemed to be acting normal and only a few people were wearing masks and gloves. I stuck to the original plan and put on my mask and gloves. I got out of my truck with my game face on, yet, no one could see it because I was wearing a mask 😷.
I noticed the garden center doors were closed so I walked over to the front door on the side of the pharmacy. I literally almost walked into the doors because they too, were locked.
So I started walking down to the grocery entrance where I noticed Walmart employees had set up a walkway and an employee was counting the amount of people coming in and out of the business.
I should have realized then and there that it was a bad idea to be out in town. But again, I needed to pick up my prescription so I continued on. Next up, time to find a shopping cart (I would say buggy, as I am from Tennessee, but I realized people might not know what I am talking about). I immediately noticed there was an assigned worker in charge of wiping all the carts down and lining them up for customers.
I, of course, whipped out my cleaning wipes and did my own wipe down. Feeling protected with my newly wiped down cart, my mask and gloves, I continued into the store.
Once inside, I noticed Walmart employees had placed stickers on the floor directing which way shoppers should be going up and down the aisles (the aisles are now one way).
I did my best to avoid direct contact with other shoppers and made my way over to the pharmacy. I normally pay through the app so I don’t have to stand in line to pick up my prescription but I noticed they didn’t have the area set aside for the mobile express line.
Hesitantly, I got in the line and tried my hardest to stay six feet from the people in front and behind me. I finally got the medicine and I made my way to the garden center.
A lot of people inside the store were not wearing masks. It made me forget for a minute that we are in a pandemic and life is anything but normal. It almost, and I say ALMOST, made me want to take my mask and gloves off so I could try to put all this COVID-19 stuff behind me. But then I thought about my friend’s mother who was on a ventilator for weeks and is still currently in a rehab facility due to the coronavirus. I thought about the first responders who have no choice but to go to every call even if the patient has coronavirus symptoms. I thought about the healthcare workers who are risking their lives by going to work every day. So, the mask stayed on.
I quickly realized that half the items on my list were sold out. At this point, I became aggravated and decided to get out of there. So I made my way to the self check out. There was an employee who was assigned specifically to wiping down the machines once a customer used the self check out. Once I made my purchases, I quickly headed to my truck (safety, base).
Once I got to the truck, I took the wipes out and cleaned my hands, my phone, my debit card. I loaded everything into the truck, took my gloves off, sanitized my hands, the door handles, my arms (they accidentally touched a few items in the store), and finally felt clean enough to get inside the truck.
That’s when I just sat there for a minute and thought about what just happened. The process of what I just went through. Never in my life did I think it would ever take that much thought and planning just to go to Walmart. I thought about how long it had been since I hugged a friend. The last time I went to a bar. It was enough to make me cry. It made me realize how much I took for granted prior to all this. How easy things were just a few months ago.
I don’t know how much longer we will be living this new reality but my guess is until there is a vaccine. Until then, I will do everything in my power to continue to follow the social distancing guidelines, to wear a mask, and to try to stay positive. If doing these things keeps one person alive, that’s enough for me. Oh, and I’m going to stick to ordering my groceries online.
Author: Caryn Little