We were running out of rice. We were running out of rice, completely out of milk, and a little low on butter because the two other stores my roommates had hit up were out. There are five of us, all adults, including a 20-year-old guy and a 22-year-old guy who takes daily 5-10 mile walks. We have a galley kitchen. Stocking up on sufficient food has been a bit of a project.
But I also spent the morning having more computer adventures (now solved; I have a frankendesktop, a police report, and three extra HDMI cables) and Tristan was off for the day, while Alexis is in official office hours and desperately trying to get OISS travel approvals for students with plane tickets tomorrow, so Tristan and I ran errands. Tristan now keeps hand sanitizer in the coin area of the car, which we used liberally after every stop. Walgreens to drop off a written prescription, the comic book store to pick everything up for Alexis because it’s going to close for a while and they wanted to not have holds gathering dust while it’s closed. Then: Costco.
Instead of the usual entrance, they have pallets stacked up to form a hallway where you wait, because they’re limiting the number of people inside at once. Everyone in the line was keeping a wary distance from each other. Conversations were quiet, as if noise itself would carry contagion. A few people in line wore surgical masks and gloves, but not many or most.
I lined up alone, in large part because Tristan hates grocery shopping, but also because Tristan has to go to work: I can work from home, and theoretically can still do statistics at things if I become ill. The final reason is that I was also deeply curious about what Costco would look like: I’ve been hearing about runs on toilet paper, people fighting over the last Lysol wipes, Costcos that are wiped out wastelands. It’s also a bulk store, perfect for stocking up, and one with a supply chain that I think works well as an indicator for how we’ll do when the social climate settles.
There were employees shepherding every part of our entrance, including one person whose entire job was sanitizing shopping carts and setting a few at a time aside directly where incoming shoppers could most easily grab them. Incoming shoppers were also directed to them when allowed in the store, and watched like hawks by other door employees – all of whom were keeping their social distance.
When I went in, all the shelves were full. The shelf with all the bagels was actually more full than I’m used to seeing it, which was nice: I snagged a couple bags of everything bagels, because the nutrition shakes we normally have for breakfast are delayed in their shipment. So I did what amounts to a regular grocery shop at Costco, but skipping most of the produce: we picked up plenty at our scheduled CSA pickup last week, and have another one this week. The farm store when we went was quiet, but I think now more than ever supporting local agriculture is important, and they’re still open and packing CSA shares.
Of course, a regular grocery shop at Costco when you’re almost out of rice involves getting a 20lb bag of it, along with a 3lb jar of minced garlic. Which should be enough to last out our isolation.
And then I washed my hands very, very thoroughly.