I’m not sure I’ve ever seen things change so quickly in my life. At the beginning of this past week, I was walking around, fairly aware and concerned with what’s going on in the world around us and then by Wednesday or Thursday, I became acutely aware and concerned with them. I’m sure you know what I’m referring to here. Yes, the Coronavirus. Need I really say it?
I began truly considering things last Monday. Maybe even a few days before. I had my belt promotion scheduled for Tuesday and I told myself that if we could just get by until then, I’d be happy to hang around our house for a good long time afterward in an effort to stay out of everyone’s way. Laura and I generally don’t go out much anyway, so isolating ourselves from society wouldn’t be too great a challenge. The problem was, we needed to stock up with a few weeks worth of food since we were running low. On Wednesday or Thursday, Maine had declared its first case of the virus and from that point on, there was a buzz in the air around here. I could feel it all the way from town. It was something like a silent panic. I read the news incessantly and decided that we needed to act sooner rather than later. My primary concern with this entire thing is likely the same as many other people’s primary concern. It’s not so much the virus itself, although that is a concern, it’s the disruption to the supply chain that brings us everything we need on a regular basis. I had a strong suspicion that people were already in the stores, loading their carts full of canned goods and dried beans, so I grabbed Laura and we raced down to our local Hannaford. That’s where we met the rest of them. In the aisles.
People were on high alert when we walked in. There was no idle conversation. Any conversation revolved around what was going on and what needed to be done. The shelves that usually held non-perishables were almost bare and what was left was the stuff that no one ever bought anyway. Sardines and the like. I took one cart and Laura took another. We separated and she filled hers and I filled mine. By the time we were finished, we had two full carts and were checking out with the fastest and most efficient cashier and bagger that I’ve ever seen. I asked the bagger, “What’s it been like today?” He looked at me for a little while before answering. When he did answer, he said, “If you can believe it, things are slowing down right now. You should have seen it this morning.” He said there were lines outside. We’ve got a large elderly population up here in Maine and those folks wake up around 4am, so yes, I believed him. I also think that being from Maine, a lot of these people know how to prepare. We’ve got lots of snow and lots of power outages. Having to buy supplies and hunker down isn’t anything new.
The strange thing is, as I spoke to the cashier and as he answered my questions, I kept on thinking that he was giving me the virus. How many people had passed through his line that day? How long had he been in the store? Who else had he seen outside of work? I tried not to breathe, but of course I had to. I kept my breaths shallow though. I think I’m becoming paranoid. The person sneezing and coughing at the pharmacy counter didn’t help.
After we arrived home, Laura and I unpacked everything and felt pretty secure. I explained that we should in no way relax because if things get really bad, the stores won’t even have the little we saw during our most recent trip. I said that we’d need to continue our food shopping sprees every few days until we either ran out of room or ran out of money. So, with that in mind, we jumped in the car again last night to go food shopping once more, but this time, we went to Walmart instead of Hannaford. We’ve never been to the Walmart in Farmington and I thought they might have a different variety of food products for us to pick through. They sort of did, so we scooped some of them up too. The biggest prize of the night was two giant cans of tuna fish that probably weight about ten pounds each. I’ve never seen tuna fish cans so large. I think I’m going to open one at a time when the time is right and divide the contents between separate ziplock bags to store in the freezer. I may never open them. Who knows. Perhaps I’ll make a giant tuna fish sandwich when this is all over. All the tuna I bought could probably fill a six-foot wedge. If you don’t know what a wedge is, it’s the same as a hoagie or a sub. A big sandwich.
I have a question and a comment about Walmart. The question has to do with their bakery. It is: why does is cost $4.50 for a bag of rolls in Hannaford and $1 for a bag of better looking rolls in Walmart? The flour can’t be that different. My comment is, did you know that you can get a tire mounted on a rim in Walmart while you’re doing your food shopping there as well? I made a joke a long time ago about buying underwear and grapes at the same time at this store. How much we’re able to get done so efficiently these days amazes me.
As we were shopping last night, I felt so bad for the employees of the store. They looked tired and worn out. They were busting their humps in an effort to restock the shelves and the guy behind the register looked like he was going to fall over from exhaustion. Again, I asked the cashier what the day had been like. He said, “You know, a lot of people hoarding food and trying to stock up.” He said this just as I was unloading the tuna from the cart. I felt silly, but not. Honestly, I don’t care what people think. As long as they don’t give me the virus. I don’t know why I felt the need to strike up a conversation with someone who had been working with the public all day. Especially when the Coronavirus is spread through the air by speaking and simply breathing. I should learn to keep my mouth shut because I’m sure he wasn’t feeling too comfortable either.
The best part about all of this is that it’s also the beginnings of allergy season. The same thing happens every year. I get a scratchy throat and I feel somewhat tired. My sleep pattern also gets disrupted. For instance, two nights ago, I slept for only about three hours, but last night, I slept straight through ten. I did take a Benadryl before bed last night though. That medicine helps me sleep immensely, but I don’t take it very often as I’m afraid of becoming addicted. And as for the night before, my mind was racing with thoughts of how I was going to fix up the stray cat shelter as well as some thoughts on a few different blog posts I’d like to soon write. I’ve read a few short stories by John Updike recently and his story entitled, “A&P” struck a chord. I have my own stories about my first job at a local A&P store that I’d like to share so perhaps my impending isolation will spur some motivation. Seeing I’ve written three blog posts since yesterday morning, I’d say there’s a good chance that I’ll write a fourth.
Anyway, my point about the allergies is this; every time I feel that any little thing is off, whether it be in my throat or in my nose, I think I’ve caught something and that I’m going to become sick. I first began feeling these allergies weeks ago, so I know what they are, but I truly think a few days away from the rest of the world will benefit my mind greatly. I don’t even like breathing the same air as people now. I hope this all clears up soon. I don’t like thinking these thoughts. I’m not this type of person and I just want to get back to my regular self. I don’t want to come off as complaining because I know others have it much worse. I guess I’m simply expressing myself.
About four years ago, I got a bright idea to buy eight big six-gallon buckets of dried food for emergency. I bought 20 pounds of oats, 50 pounds of pinto beans, 50 pounds of black turtle beans, 50 pounds of brown rice, probably around 150 pounds of different grains, such as white and red, and a few other things. Needless to say, I’ve got a lot of food for emergency these days. Back then, since these buckets were around $100 each, I bought one per month. Or one every few weeks. I don’t remember the exact weights, when I bought them, or how much each bucket cost, but I do remember thinking that people were going to think I was crazy if I ever told them that I was preparing for the apocalypse. Because of this, I remained silent about them. I’ve been on this earth a few decades now and I never really gave any honest thought to something like this actually happening. I read a headline yesterday that said something like, “Life For Many Feels Surreal.” That’s probably the best way to describe things. Surreal. Is this really happening? Is there honestly a pandemic right now? There are so many thoughts swirling around in my head and I think the only one that makes me feel any better has to do with how I can better prepare. I just read an article that stated that this emergency has the potential to last until the spring of 2021. This is according to the government of the United Kingdom, anyway. They claim that cases will quickly ramp up very soon, plateau, drop during the summer and then ramp back up again for next winter, alongside the flu. I can’t seem to wrap my head around that actually happening. I guess the truth of the matter is that none of us know. There may be some miracle breakthrough tomorrow that solves all of our problems and yet, there may be no breakthrough at all. I have to believe that someone will come up with something.
I can state this with certainty though. If this pandemic does drag on, people will most likely change. I’m curious to see what they change into. Until then my friends, I’ll be slipping into full hermit mode. Lots of writing, working, playing guitar, cooking, and watching stupid videos on Youtube. Until next time.