Coronavirus Blog #2: Grocery Shopping Trip

Today is March 15, 2020, and this is the second installment of my daily living in a coronavirus world blog. I’m just documenting what it’s like here where I live, in the hopes that one day I’ll look at this blog and laugh at myself and my observations because this will all be over.

As I said before, I live in the Pac NW. I have heard a ton of terrible stories about people trying to go get groceries or other needed supplies, and having to wait for hours in lines. Or not being able to find what they needed.

I decided to hold off on grocery shopping, and wait for a time when I didn’t have kids to bring with me.

So I waited for Sunday morning, hoping that people would have done most of their shopping on Saturday.

I knew that I risked missing out on some items that I wanted to get (like flour, dried beans, potatoes, bread).

These are items I would have bought anyway, by the way. They are also items that I regularly buy, though they are also good items to have on hand.

And to some degree, I was right. Getting into the grocery store at about 8:30 am was definitely better than going in the afternoon and fighting tons of people. (Not to mention risking exposure to sick people). Weren’t we supposed to be AVOIDING CROWDS, not seeking them out?

I shake my head thinking of all the people lining up at Costco to buy toilet paper…if the virus transmits like the scientists think it does, all those people were just making their own situations worse rather than better.

I digress.

I went into the store at 8:30am, bleary eyed because I had stayed up too late reading a book. Here’s what I found.

First, there were no coupons available, and the sani-wipe section was totally empty.

Next, there were employees in many of the aisles frantically throwing food up on shelves, sometimes not very elegantly. They were just trying to get it there, and probably figured that pretty wouldn’t matter since people would just take it soon anway.

There were almost no checkers helping people buy groceries, which meant that there was a big line of people waiting to pay and leave.

Almost all the people I saw in the store had clearly gotten them much earlier than I had, because all of their carts were filled up completely. I’ve never seen so many full carts early in the morning on a Sunday. Most people who come in on Sunday are buying something small to add to the family Sunday breakfast, or to buy doughnuts.

I hit the fruit and veg area first. The salad and greens area was all full. There were tons of fresh fruit and veg for sale. What had been sold out: green peppers, potatoes, and carrots. There was plenty of everything else.

Next I went to the meat section.

There was no chicken anywhere for sale. It was all gone.

Also gone? All the ground beef. Not a shred of it left.

There were a few ribs, and a few roasts. Lots of prepared sausages and hotdogs, and other lunch meat.

I then hit the aisles.

The canned goods sections had giant holes. People had bought all of the canned fruit, canned veg, olives, applesauce. People had also bought out all the flour, rice, and dried beans. There was plenty of pasta and pasta sauce, and other prepared pasta types in a box.

The ramen noodle section had been bought out as well.

As I moved through the store, I laughed to myself as I saw what people had bought but what they had left behind.

They bought flour, but nothing else (all the sugar and other ingredients for baking were plentiful). They bought triscuits and wheat thins, but left the cheezits, Ritz, and other crackers. They bought ice cream (just one brand), but left all the other frozen treats.

They bought frozen potatoes (french fries, tots, hashbrowns) but very little else of the frozen vegetables, pizzas, or other prepared frozen foods.

They bought tons of bread, but no peanut butter, jelly, or honey.

The eggs were on sale, but there were tons of them left. Honestly I am guessing that by the time people got to the egg section of the store, their carts were just too full for them.

There was milk, but not a lot left for sale. (I bought a gallon of regular milk and some chocolate milk, just because).

The beer and wine looked pristine and scarcely touched, which surprised me. I figured that more people would have been self-medicating to handle their anxiety (and the fact that the kids were going to be home for a month or more out of school).

Everyone around me had full carts, and looked very determined. I could tell that most of them didn’t want to be there, just like I didn’t want to be there.

When it came time to buy my groceries, I helped the checker bag my groceries so that I could help her get me out of there and get to the next lady in line, who appeared to be preparing to feed a family of 15.

I barely spent $100 at the store, which is about what I would spend on a weekly regular shopping trip. But looking into the carts of the people around me, I could see many people who had spent several hundreds of dollars.

I had to wonder…were those people going to eat what they had purchased?

Would it spoil? Would there be people in our community who would not be able to eat because others had overstocked their own pantries to make themselves feel less anxious?

I tried to buy a reasonable amount of groceries, and I will try to get back into the store in a few days to grab some of the things that I wanted to buy but wasn’t able to (meat, beans).

I’m not worried that the government will ban or block me from going to the grocery store. I will continue to try and time my trips to line up with a time when the store isn’t full of people. Not because of the virus, but because I don’t want to be around all those crazy out of their mind panicking people.

Why buy so much toilet paper? Why fight over it in the aisles or the parking lot? Why spend so much time in a store doing exactly the opposite of what we need to do in order to stop the spread of this virus?

If you want to get the rest of my living in a coronavirus world posts, here’s the link to all of the posts in that series.

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