I braved the grocery store yesterday to pick up an online order of necessities – milks, dog food, produce, chips. I admit I was fearful, even of interacting with the one person who came out with my cart and helped me load my car. When I got home I washed my hands before I put the groceries away and after, counting to 20 each time. I recognize that all the things I put away could be contagious, but will keep washing my hands throughout the day and try not to touch my face.
I was appalled by the full parking lot I encountered and the sheer number of people going in and out of the store, many with only two bags, presumably returning tomorrow or the day after to it again – wonder around a large public space with many other people touching things and breathing because you can’t get another week’s toothpaste out of the tube. Apparently I am in a minority of people who are staying home as much as possible. As I drove away I had to restrain myself from yelling at an elderly person limping toward their car with nothing but two giant packages of toilet paper. Two. I couldn’t even get one with my online order and there they were along with the majority of other shoppers with their carts loaded with paper products.
Most of us have not lived with this kind of catastrophe before. We heard about the Depression and WW II, but since then none of the end-of-the-world predictions have come through. Most of us don’t know how to ration, or stay home, or stay home because it might not be safe out there. And mostly we don’t really know how to share, or think of the greater good, or other people’s needs. The Boomer culture we all grew up in continues to make us think we deserve everything we want, now.
All the selfish decades and generations have come to this, when an eighty-year-old thinks that they should go shopping and buy enough toilet paper to last them for almost a year, when other people are trying to keep their sniffles and sore throats at home and don’t have a square to spare. There are people being careful and doing nice and kind things, I just hope there are enough of them.