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My Trip to the Grocery Store

Justin Barber
4 min read

Nidhi and I are on week three of “shelter in place.” May 3rd is the new official date for when our county might end the mandate, but I suspect the order will stretch for a longer time.

Mentally forecasting what the next month at home will be like is impossible.

And yet, given the circumstances our situation is ideal: Nidhi and I both still have our jobs, we can work from the safety of our own home, and we don’t have children to educate or entertain or generally keep alive.

While the worst thing I face each day is sitting on cheap IKEA dining room chairs at a cheap IKEA dining room table that isn’t quite big enough for two people and a monitor, I have friends who’ve lost jobs, graduation ceremonies, weddings, honeymoons, and more because of COVID-19.

Real life weighs heavily.

Notifications from WashPo and New York Times blip onto my phone screen multiple times a day to let me know that the death toll is rising exponentially. On Twitter I see people posting their Cash app $names and screenshots of their overdue bills in the hopes that internet strangers will help them out.

Despite all of these realities swirling around me, I’ve felt like I’ve been able to hold the dark, anxiety inducing fog of Coronavirus at bay.

And then I went grocery shopping.

Nidhi and I stood in line outside of the store, six feet apart from our fellow shoppers, for twenty minutes before getting inside. It was raining. (Raining! In California!) I dropped my phone and cracked the screen.

After another twenty minutes inside I was drained from constantly calculating approximate distances from me to everyone else, mentally logging everything that I’d touched, and soaking up the collective stress level I felt from everyone inside the store. We weren’t able to get everything on our list, so we went around the corner to the other grocery store (which didn’t require any form of distancing whatsoever).

And that’s how I ended up paralyzed in the sausage aisle.

(That’s not a sentence I thought I’d ever write, but here we are in the year 2020.)

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