This weekend I did a few errands. In general I try not to shop more than once every 10 days or so, and only go to one store. But after nine weeks at home, we had a few other needs and needed to go to a few places, so I sucked it up and did so.
And man, is there ever a weird combination of stuff happening out there right now.
Ever since the Ontario government announced limited lifting of the restrictions starting this past weekend, there’s been a huge range of reactions. Some people are relieved, and feel that the worst is over, and that it’s back to business as usual. Some people think this is way too early and are still on full lockdown mode and perhaps trying to avoid the outside world even more so than usual, now that some people are mixing it up.
At the Walmart…it was totally game on, business as usual. I saw very few people in masks. Families were shopping as a group with their kids, many people were in couples or even bigger groups. The staff were manning the door but were doing little to stop the flow of people coming in, or to restrict larger groups of shoppers. It wasn’t exactly crowded inside but it was much busier than it had been in the past few weeks. The garden centre was open and the staff there had no protective gear at all, and people were free to browse and mingle in the close aisles as they picked out their plants.
At the Superstore…I saw more people in masks, perhaps a third or so. They were still controlling the checkouts with a single socially distanced lineup. But there were lots of couples and family groups shopping together, and at the “sterilize your own cart” station, they were out of paper towels, so I guess that’s over now.
At the Sobey’s…I don’t often shop there, I had to go to get just a couple of specific brand-name things the Superstore does not carry. So I wasn’t super familiar with their process, and got barked at several times by the staff for entering the wrong way, and taking a cart from the wrong place, and lining up wrong. But in a way that was actually reassuring – they still care, and are still trying to keep everyone separate and keep everything clean.
At the Home Hardware…I waited in a socially-distanced line for about a half hour while the staff member at the front managed the number of people in the store. He was great – he asked everyone what part of the store they needed to visit, then only let one or two people in each area at once, all the while keeping it positive and upbeat. I just needed one thing from here, and he directed me straight to it. At the checkout, the cashier noticed that there was another man standing nearby waiting for something so she asked me to come behind the counter and take a different route out of the store so I wouldn’t have to walk directly past the man.
At the local nursery near my house…I waited two hours in a socially-distanced line up (and got a pretty awful sunburn) to give my prepared list of plants and fertilizers to a staff member behind a gate, who went and filled my order for me, then did a contact-less transfer of goods with tap-only for payment. I was literally the only person there in a mask, but we were all outside and spaced apart, so maybe it didn’t matter that much. The owners of the nursery made it clear that some members of their staff were immune-compromised and so no one would be allowed in to just browse around, but this was news to many people in line, who said that other nurseries were allowing general browsing and business as usual.
And that was shopping this weekend. I wore a mask everywhere and I got a mixture of reactions – other people in masks tended to give me space, people in larger family groups with no masks tended to act like I wasn’t there when reaching around me for things on shelves or letting their kids dance at my feet in the checkout line.
It’s a weird time. I know everyone is trying to figure out what is right for themselves and their family and society and it seems like there are a lot of big questions with no answers right now. I know that the plan cannot be
“we just don’t get the virus indefinitely” but also “everyone getting it at once” is not a great option either, so perhaps this combination of some places opening up, some places still locking it down will work out to a kind of balance.
For us, for now, we are doing well just being at home. We are able to work and go to school and get the things we need with just one of us leaving the house. I can wear a mask and that’s not a huge deal, so I will. I will try to limit my contact with others and my exposure in order to put off getting the virus until it’s better understood and treatment options are more accessible and advanced.
That’s our plan, for now at least, What’s yours?