Pandemic at the Big Box Store

William, aka Hunky Hubby, and I went on separate early morning field trips today. He went to Harris Teeter (which I affectionately call “The Teet), and I went to Costco. The Teet has items either not stocked by our favorite big box store, or in much smaller quantities, or both. For example, we needed two five-gallon bottles of water for our dispenser, LaCroix Limoncello sparkling water, and some other non-Costco items. Divide and conquer.

I hadn’t been to Costco in about 5 – 6 weeks, since the last time I had to pick up medications for Lacey, the wack-a-doodle hound. I had some extra meds on hand for her, so I stretched the return trip out as long as possible. They were checking IDs, so as to dissuade any dishonest interlopers from going in before normal working hours. Checking IDs… what a riot. We all love our IDs checked when we buy booze, but it’s not so fun when you have to prove you’re older than dirt.

I took advantage of what I call “Geezer Hour.” I got there about 40 minutes before the doors opened for the infirm and decrepit crowd, and there were already over 100 people in line. It was about 40 degrees out and windy, and naturally, I was not bundled up well enough. Perhaps I should have checked the weather before I left home. I may have at least worn socks. And a jacket. And taken a heavy scarf. My pea-brain was so sleep-addled that I didn’t even consider we’d be in lines like a ride at Disneyland. Yes, the line snaked around so as to give us the impression that we were close to entering. I’d much rather stand in line for a mediocre roller coaster in warm weather, than feel like I was practicing being a babushka in a socialist country queuing up for bread. A sockless, bemasked, fleece-vest-wearing babushka. Even in socialism I’ll be a big, fat, Fashion Don’t!

OMG. The parking lot looked like a sitcom I’d call “Ancient Zombies.” Everyone in line was wearing a mask of some sort. Thankfully, there were no people-of-Walmart-I-think-I’ll-wear-a-thong-on-my-face masks, but there were enough interesting interpretations of face coverings to occupy my attention.

I determined that a benefit of wearing a mask is that nobody can really read your lips when you feel inclined to comment, sotto voce, on some particular boneheaded move. And, in a store full of senior citizens trying to push over-laden carts with their masks partially obscuring their eyes, there were many moments that required comment. It’s also a violation of courteous social-distancing to ram your cart into another shopper or to take up so much of the aisle that others (yes, I mean moi) can’t get by you with less than 4 inches to spare

Since I went alone, I wasn’t able to share my pithy pronouncements with Hunky Hubby, but boy howdy I still felt compelled to say them softly, not just in my head. Not to worry, most of us this age are hard of hearing, so I didn’t offend anyone.

I was surprised that I was able to score sanitizing wipes, TP, shop paper towels, protein bars for our deployed son, and most of the rest of my shopping list. I’m glad Costco was well-stocked in most areas, I’m glad we have a big freezer, and I’m mostly glad I won’t have to return until it’s time to drug the hound again. Maybe we’ll have enough of the other basics that I can just dart in straight to the pharmacy and avoid the mayhem next time. Oh, who am I kidding. There won’t be a next time for me because I’ll beg Hunky Hubby to brave the insanity at Costco. I’ve had enough fun shopping during the Rona to last awhile.

I’m not a toilet paper hoarder. I am, apparently, a LaCroix sparkling water hoarder. If I see the Limoncello flavor, something sparks in the deep, primitive region of my brain, and I MUST HAVE IT ALL. I am perfectly happy to leave most items on the shelf for others. I really don’t want a shopping cart full of Tylenol or paper towels or Lysol or whatever else over-enthusiastic preppers buy these days. Thankfully, Hunky Hubby is aware of my limoncello sparkling water obsession and he procured three cartons for me at The Teet. He’s wise enough to realize that doing so may prevent me from begging him to stop at any grocery store we happen to be near so I can get my fix. “May” being the operative term, because you never know when I’ll need (yes, need) more.

Speaking of hoarding, I don’t. I hadn’t bought toilet paper since the last time I went to Costco (before the plague), so one gigantic pack should hold us for a few months. We’re also willing to share with others less TP-blessed. Earlier in this pandemic, I had mentioned on social media that we may get to the point of having to barter wine for TP or sanitizing wipes. I’m happy to report that that is no longer the case, so I can keep my wine. After the week I had, I’ll need it all. Damn it.

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