Quarantine. Lockdown. Sheltering in Place. Stay At Home. Whatever you call it, it means the same thing. Don't go anywhere. Or, at least, don't go anywhere that is not absolutely necessary – doctor, pharmacy, grocery shopping are okay when necessary.
Many physicians are switching to telehealth appointments. Many stores and pharmacies will deliver. And there is always Amazon although I hear tell that two-day delivery is long gone – that it's more like two weeks or more now.
We – not just Americans, but everyone everywhere – are living in a time like we have never seen before. We have no experience at this.
No one before now ever told us that we couldn't leave our homes. Couldn't, therefore, see our friends and relatives, go to the gym, watch a movie in a theater, have dinner in a restaurant, stop for a cup of coffee on a whim.
I can count on one hand the number of times I have been away from home in the past three-plus weeks.
It had been more than two weeks since I'd been any farther than the mailbox and trash bin when I went grocery shopping this week. A friend asked why I didn't use home delivery but several others had told me that the delivery services are backed up at least a week. Better to face my fears and do it myself.
So I suited up. I don't have masks and my attempts to tie a scarf over my face failed (actually, I lost patience to work at it) so I did the best I could otherwise: clothing that could be machine washed, a supply of gloves, a shopping list in the order that would get me through the store as quickly as possible and cleaning supplies left on the porch for my return.
I was nervous. Okay, make that frightened. So far, Oregon overall and particularly my county have a low number of virus cases compared to many other places in the U.S. Still, on my few previous forays to the market, customers paid no heed to personal distancing and in that regard, nothing had changed.
It was about 10:30AM when I arrived at the store, donned my nitrile gloves, rolled a cart to the disinfectant stand and wiped it down.
The store had made some changes since I was last there. Two new self-check-out counters, plexiglass barriers between checkers and shoppers, large stickers on the floor to show people how far away to stand from one another on line and signs reminding shoppers that six feet is the length of two shopping carts.
Amazingly, there were paper towels – with a one package of six rolls per person rule. Toilet paper too with the same admonition.
The meat counter was, as during my last two visits, almost empty unless you like British bangers (I don't). But having skipped “senior shopping hours” in the early morning, I was happy to find the cooked chickens were ready and I grabbed one.
The store clerks were terrific, waving hello to me as we maneuvered ourselves to keep that six-foot distance between us. One offered to show me how to tie a scarf as a mask next time I'm there.
As mentioned above, customers were not as diligent. A couple of them, in the middle of an aisle, refused to move to the side to let me by. Another pushed up against me as I was reaching for pasta on a top shelf.
Once, when I told a shopper directly behind me to back off, she said, “I don't have the virus.” And I said, “You don't know that.” Who are these people.
Back home, I cleaned all the boxes, jars and other containers with antiseptic spray on the front porch and placed the cleaned items in the old shopping bags I knew were virus-free and ferried them into the kitchen.
It's nice to have a restocked shelves but most of all I liked seeing the store employees, two or three of whom I've known for nearly a decade. We don't see many people in person these days so a trip to the supermarket is a new kind of treat rather than a chore – however scared I am to do it.
On a different day, I ventured out to my cannabis dispensary as I was running low on the edibles I use for sleep. I was as nervous about that trip as I was the market but driving Terwilliger Boulevard through a densely, wooded area for two or three miles calmed me. I guess they're right, the people who say nature is good for us.
The dispensary was as safe as anything can be, I think. Since I was there a month ago, they had built a floor-to-ceiling plexiglass barrier in the lobby between customers and "budmaster" with an opening just large enough to pay and show my ID.
Also, customers are now not allowed in the back room where the products are displayed. When I called the day before to see if the shop would be open, they told me to order online and they would have everything ready when I arrived, plus a 15 percent discount.
And so they did. Too bad I can't buy my groceries there.
Our lives now turn on such minutiae as in this post. The smallest things take on greater significance and, in some cases, comfort when time away from home is reduced to an hour or so a week.
What about you? Have you ventured away from home?