Once upon a time, in the days of BC (before Corona), a trip to the supermarket was simple. The pantry and fridge needed restocking, so we travelled along the aisles filling our trolleys with what we needed, often adding items we didn’t need, (the power of subliminal advertising). We would be remotely aware of our fellow shoppers, but not particularly engaged. Not so now ….
…. Now a trip to the supermarket has taken us to a different dimension. We walk through the doors, collect a trolley, then stop. This is new! Signs on the floor telling us to keep our distance – 1.5mtrs away from other shoppers, fine, I’ll remember to do that. Stepping forward, with shopping list in hand we start the Corona Dance.
Meat and poultry: I do prefer to support the local butcher, but it’s Saturday afternoon and they are closed, so we trust the supermarket.
Not being a fan of red meat, I make a bee line for the poultry section. Plenty of chicken necks for the dog, that’s a win. Other cuts are fairly well stocked, so no real problem here.
Fruit and Veg: Fairly well stocked, people obviously getting their vitamins.
Remember keep your distance.
Stand back while the lady in front makes her choice. How long does it take to grab a bag of carrots?
Moving on, the coast is clear, I need mushrooms. Oops, that woman is picking out button mushrooms one at a time. How long can it take?
Someone walking toward me, step back while I wait for the mushrooms. Finally, mushrooms are free. No paper bag.
I find a plastic bag. It takes forever to open a plastic bag without licking my finger.
Tear off another bag. Still can’t open and still can’t lick finger.
Someone is walking toward me, I step aside.
Tear off another bag. Yay this one opened easily.
When did lettuces become such small, droopy excuses. If I had chooks, I could feed an entire flock, but not at $4.99 each.
Move along now, don’t dally.
Need to pass this guy, but he’s walking in the middle of the aisle and I can’t move without knocking over several display shelves. So I stop.
Some people just aren’t aware of the space they fill or the people around them.
Bread – usual brand not available, grab something else. Another adjustment.
Milk – no probs here.
I need cheese, so it seems does half the population of the town. I wait patiently while the woman in front pursues the fridges like she’s reading the destination screen at Southern Cross station. Finally, she realises I’m waiting and asks, “Do you want to get in here”, “When you’re ready” I reply. “Can’t make up my mind” she says, “You go first”.
This has been the longest conversation I’ve had in over a week. Before I can cross to the fridge half a dozen people grab their opportunity to scoot past, giving us both a sideways glance. Have you noticed that no-one looks you in the eye in supermarkets anymore?
Cheese now in trolley. Move along three doors for yoghurt. Bugger, usual brand not available and not much of anything else. This time its my turn to stare into the abyss of a half filled fridge. Never tried this brand before, but hey, we’re living in the ‘new normal’, it’s a new experience.
Move on to the eggs, plenty available – think I might live on eggs until the next millennium.
Need frozen peas. Still none available, 3 weeks now, beginning to forget what they look like. Maybe throw some frozen pies into the freezer for emergencies. Do they still make frozen pies? Not that you’d know by the empty shelves. Not many people around the frozen food section, not surprising. At least I don’t have to do ‘the dance’ here.
Its now time to gird the loins and risk the toilet paper aisle. Nothing, nil, nada, not even a broken packet of an inferior brand. All I can find are huge rolls of indeterminate quality that throws up another challenge of how can I hang this in the toilet to be easily accessible. Okay, another new experience. (When opened, this alternative product proves to be as inadequate as expected and only a step up from torn up newspaper hanging on a nail).
I need tissues, no reasonable brands, but a plentiful supply of some unknown brand, that like the jumbo toilet roll turns out to be challenging. Its like blowing your nose on typing paper, only I think the typing paper is softer.
Flour – fat chance.
Barley – (it is after all soup weather). None.
And the search for supplies continues, mostly unsuccessfully.
I’ve never experienced rationing, but I’m getting a very real sense of what it was like when facing so many empty shelves. I realise that I’m even buying stuff I don’t need – how long will four bottles of shampoo last?
I’ve managed to gather enough to survive about a week, so I head to the checkout. At first glance it looks like there is a long queue of people until I realise that the 1.5 mtr separation has extended the queue by about 3 kilometres.
Going through the checkout, it’s clear that the new heroes, along with health care workers and many others, are the supermarket staff. Even with the new screens installed to keep us apart, these erstwhile workers are still in the firing line.
Finally, out the door, to the car and head home with a sense of relief – until next time.