Grocery Shopping During Lockdown

For the past 20 years I’ve shopped once a week for groceries at 6 a.m. to avoid bumping into other carts and waiting in long lines. Currently, I shop at three different stores because each one carries items the other two do not, and other items at better prices than the other two. Hitting each of them only once every three weeks helps keep our diets varied, too.

Today was the week to shop at Smart and Final. I yelped with joy when I saw only about five cars in the parking lot. I grumbled when I read the sign taped to the front door. “As of March 15th our new hours are from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m….” So I hurried over to Food4Less because they are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The sign on their door told of new hours starting at 8 a.m. “As of March 15th…”

Drove across the street to Wal-Mart, which had publicized new hours of 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Lots of cat food and litter. No toilet paper. Found a milk and a soy milk. No low-fat or nonfat yogurt. No bread. No brown rice. Grabbed the last two boxes of Rice-a-roni. None of the large jars of natural peanut butter, only a few small ones. The kinds of cornbread and cocoa we buy were gone. Bought more expensive cornbread that bragged about “natural ingredients.” Lots of packages of the brand of burritos my wife and kids like.

Tons of frozen vegetables and fruit. Tons of fresh produce.  Cereal aisle had a handful of boxes and only three small boxes of bran cereal at almost $4 a box.

Now you’re really making me mad, I thought. Not only are you going to have an upset customer on your hands, the next time I come in here you’re going to have a constipated one. As I walked away, a couple of boxes on the back of the top shelf, which sat higher than my six foot height, caught my eye. Two boxes of generic bran flakes, less than $2 a box. Started feeling regular again after I stood on the bottom shelf to reach them.

Hurried home and unloaded the groceries. Drafted my wife to help me shop at Smart and Final. Got there a few minutes before 8 a.m. and there was a line of people with so many carts that only one empty sat near the door. As I snagged it, an employee asked if I was a senior and if so, he needed to see I.D. He let us in the store.

No bread. My wife found some yeast. Looks like it might be only homemade bread for a while. No frozen chicken. Lots of nonfat and low-fat yogurt. Tons of fresh produce. Tons of frozen vegetables and fruit. (Is this your way of telling me to shift from the mostly carbs and protein diet I eat to one with mostly vegetables and fruit, Lord?)

Saw the produce manager and asked him if he’s ever seen anything like this. He said only one July 4th was “sort of like this” and he’s been working produce a long time. Told him I appreciated the store letting “us seniors come in first.”

He said, “We have to. Yesterday the old people in here were getting run over. I saw one old lady get pushed out of the way and told the customer who pushed her, ‘you can’t do that.'” Thanked him for doing what he does.

At checkout, the cashier said there was no bread and some other items because the warehouse for them is down in San Jose, which is in one of the six San Francisco Bay counties under lockdown so severe it is affecting outgoing deliveries.

Can hardly wait until next Wednesday, which is my regularly scheduled day to shop at Food4Less.

Whoever said being a senior doing grocery shopping isn’t an adventure?



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