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Sharon Canfield Dorsey – Grocery Shopping in the Age of COVID-19

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Mostly, I don’t – shop, that is. My personal shopper daughter, Shannon, hunts and gathers groceries on Saturday and drops her findings off on my carport. I try to make my list as simple as possible – no specific brands, etc. Every Saturday is a new adventure, depending on what the store is out of and what substitutions she decides to make. I look forward to the surprises and the new cooking challenges. There is always a “guilty pleasure,” like ice cream that wasn’t on the list or fresh flowers. I’m getting very spoiled!

            Yesterday, I decided to venture out to the local Food Lion on my own. I chose my shopping time with safety uppermost in mind, so arrived at 8:30 a.m., during the special time allotted for “chronologically disadvantaged” people like me. My fellow shoppers were all carefully masked and gloved and concentrating fully on the task at hand. I was hoping for a “find” so went first to the aisles that my daughter tells me are normally empty. Disappointment – no paper towels or toilet paper or Clorox. Also, no cans of Campbells chicken broth which we both like for a favorite rice/mushroom casserole. BUT, in the rice aisle, two bags of jasmine rice which has been out of stock for weeks. I snatch one for me and one for Shannon and hurry to pasta. “Slim pickin’s,” as my Mom would have said, but I add two boxes to my cart and move on to canned vegetables. Lots of vacant space on the shelves, especially in the “beans” section. Is the whole town living on beans and rice? Maybe it’s just as well that we’re not all hanging out together! The fruit shelves are similarly sparse.

            One of my goals was to find some Extra Strength Tylenol which has been harder to track down than Big Foot. Bingo! Two boxes on the shelf, but each securely locked into a special container that can only be opened by the cashier and sporting a sign, “One per Customer.” O. K., I can live with that. Who knew pain relief medication would someday be locked up like diamond and gold jewelry? I wander up and down the aisles and gather what I can, then fill in the gaps with fresh veggies and fruits, which seem abundant. Proud of my bounty, I stand on the big black X, separating customers, ‘til it’s my turn at the check-out. The cashier behind the plexiglass barrier, in her mask and gloves, thanks me for shopping at Food Lion. I thank her for working at Food Lion, so I can shop. Her eyes smile at me and I’m out of there.

            At home, I repeat my weekly routine — empty the bags, clean all the boxes and cans with Clorox wipes, place them on a separate shelf in the pantry where they will stay for at least a week before I use them. Then I clean the doorknobs at the outside door, scrub my hands while singing Happy Birthday twice and collapse in my chair. Grocery shopping – bah humbug!

SHARON CANFIELD DORSEY is an award-winning poet and author of four children’s books; a memoir, Daughter of the Mountains; a book of poetry, Tapestry; and a travel memoir, Road Trip. Sharon’s books are available from Barnes Noble, Amazon, High Tide Publications, and the author. WATCH FOR A NEW POETRY BOOK, WALK WITH ME, OUT IN JULY, 2020.

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