Quarantine Shopping Hell Day Five

( My knuckle from repeatedly washing hands )

know, it’s kind of odd to start writing about this so late and please don’t mind my humor as I cope. But we’ve all seen what people have been experiencing when they go out and shop for what they need. It’s all over the internet and it’s clear that shit has really been tough out there. The premise of convenience has seemed to dwindle for many as these hard times fall hard on us all.

To make matters worse, the paranoia doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

Now, in a perfect world, it would have been nice to just hit the pause button on everything. But it took a day like this to land me back here and finally speak about what it’s been like on my side. Cause maybe sharing our stories with one another could help as we are dealing with lock down. So, this is week three since quarantine was placed on NYC and week two of me being the “Lone shoppingslinger”.

Yeah, I know it sounds like a bad Buffy The Vampire Slayer rip off and this isn’t me making light of the situation either. (even though my hands are turning vampire like from all the washing)

But unfortunately, it’s the truth on my end, and with each passing week so grows my concern. Because it brings me back to day one when the city first announced the quarantine. Scrambling for items back when businesses were first told to shut its doors. The trip I remember most at that time was a half a mile speed walk to a pet store on a Friday evening.

Hoping I could buy enough food for my pup Bella to endure this troubling time. (a day I’ll probably never forget)

Unfortunately, they were closing earlier than expected and I arrived too late to make a purchase. When I asked the employee, who hid behind a glass door entrance if they would be open the next day. She told me she wasn’t sure and that was my first encounter on how severe things really were. At first, I thought maybe she was just concerned by the mask I was wearing.

I suppose at first glance, something like that wouldn’t make anyone reasonable. After all, maybe there were more people, but I only noticed three others wearing them during that walk. Almost like living in a movie and to make matters worse, I wasn’t even sure if I’d be able to get dog food at all. Luckily, I was able to make the trip again the following day and score some for Bella before calling it quits on being outside.

It was still very early on; the pandemic was still new and the first issues to emerge that week was a toilet paper and sanitizer shortage. I’m sure you have seen the countless videos online about this problem (And, if that was surprising to you, please leave a comment below). But for some odd reason it’s never really real until someone sees it for themselves. This I made sure of on that Friday as I passed by the small stores in my area.

Which all had written notes on the door that would tell buyers they could only sell two rolls per person. Even tried to check a local dollar store that would always have sanitizer and it was all sold out. Only to look online and see the crazy amount people were charging for the stuff. Welcome to capitalism ladies and gentlemen.

Fortunately, at the end of that trip that Friday, I noticed a local supermarket was still selling the big packs of T.P. But I held off, only to realize they weren’t replacing them the next day. So, I made sure to grab one before they were gone. And every time I returned there; I would look to see if they were being restocked.

They weren’t for the first two weeks…

Which I’d like to think was a safer time to make more trips than it is today. As I was forced to get the hang of these sudden changes by getting what was needed. But as the news got worse about what was going on, I realized that shopping for necessities was going to have to be as limited as possible. So, now I set a specific time and day to get everything I can for the remainder of the week.

Which makes the burden worse as buying in bulk while trying to be safe has been a more stressful experience now. (Plus, it doesn’t help when you still see older people out and about even though those people probably don’t have anyone to help them with shopping and stuff, it’s my best guess, I know-RANDOM)

Take this passed Wednesday, yesterday to be exact. I started off the day as positive as I could. To appreciate the days, I’m lucky to have and expressing that with a typical quote post on the gram (Yeah, I’m that person). Felt good that morning, and even managed to get a decent breakfast out of it. But since I have been out of work, my days have been more on the later side.

So, this past week I’ve been waking up in the afternoon which is fine of course. Except, this was a shopping day.

Meaning, there wasn’t much room for me to regather myself and gain the focus needed to smoothly pull this day off. Mind, you it didn’t help to know that this week was reported to be the worse week yet. But I had a set time and a small window to get it together and get this over with. With my worse fear being not knowing what to expect while I’m outside.

I suppose keeping up with what is going on in the world got the best of me this week. Because I longed this day but knew it fell on me to get it done because I can do it fast and get in and out. That was my mind set going into this and I stood local, so I’d be back before you know it. Unfortunately, I had three stops to make because different stores carried different things.

The first place being a pharmacy, which lucky for me was mostly empty.

I had my gloves and mask on which has served me well to this point. Yet, to my surprise this one cashier had no such protection. Other than a glass frame that came between them and the customer (Which was new to me). But nothing more than something you notice at a first glance (Because I’m aware that supplies are short out here), so I buy my things and leave. But after walking a block down I check my list and realize I have to double back.

So here I am back in this pharmacy and back on line to buy the things I forgot. But this time the cashier that has no protection is replaced by someone and gets in line behind me. Now, of course it’s a line, there isn’t anything wrong with that as long as the 6 feet rule is being respected. Except, it wasn’t and when I was forced to move away to increase my distance the person just kept close.

Luckily, I was able to reach the cashier quickly and get out. Because had this person not been on the young side, confrontation would have been inevitable. Now, when I reach my second location, someone is blocking a lane I wanted to enter that they were slowly exiting. At this point I’m already carrying gallon of water and some extra items in a reusable bag. So, my mind set is just get in and get out as fast as possible.

But because this person is taking their sweet time, once again, I’m forced to back away and create some distance. Thinking once I get in this isle, I’ll find what I came to get and move on. Only to overhear that very person create a commotion with the cashier over having a plastic separator between them and the customers (Which mind you, wasn’t there the prior week). So I’m forced to stall while finding my stuff in order to wait out the exchange.

Luckily, the person calmed down and eventually left the store, but, still, this is new. (and when another customer came in, they had the same reaction but in a more subtle manner)

So, finally, here I am rushing towards my last destination, hoping things would go smooth this time. Only to realize I must double back again to my last spot because the distraction made me overlook my list (F***! WHY ME?). But just when I think I can be quick I am forced to look around the store for an item I can’t even reach to grab. Thankfully, the cashier helped and much love and props for what they are doing these days (cause things ain’t the same anymore, they just ain’t).

Yet, when I go to pay at the counter for my item, I notice they had no frill medium sized hand sanitizer there…FOR 7 BUCKS!! (Whaaaaaaaaaat?)

Now off to the races as I just want to get this trip over with and get back home to my loving family. Hoping there wouldn’t be a line outside when I reach the supermarket. But voila, there iiiis, and as I’m standing there in a safe distance from others who was peacefully waiting in line like I was. Suddenly, here comes this guy trying to sell stuff to people.

Which would have been like cool, whatever, right? …

Except, he’s not respecting distance at all as he walks by me in a way that could have easily led to a standoff (and all I’m trying to do out here is buy groceries as fast as humanly possible). But thankfully, nothing happened, and the supermarket trip went smoothly. Which was my final shopping place before finally heading home. They had single roll toilet paper again and were charging 79 cents per roll.

Hardly any sales though, so I guess you can’t win them all.

But let me tell you, that walk home didn’t leave me with a good feeling at all that night. As I wonder what I’m going to encounter in the following weeks. I’ve been told to consider home delivery but the risk is too high in loosing goods in my hard to find area. Not to mention what people been going through with delays these days.

I’m just fortunate to have my health as I try to withstand this intense and questionable time period (except for potentially breaking my pinky toe when I got home). I wish you all the same and hope we all come out on the other end of this in one piece.

Thanks for letting me share, please be kind to others and those people out there trying to keep this world turning. We all in this together!

Written by Antonio Westley

Stay safe and feel free to share your story with me!

Writer / Illustrator / Creator for more info look me up on twitter! Mainly a novel writer but I also write critical and scary content for fun 😁