A Sobering Reality…

Yesterday we needed to get prescriptions and pick up some groceries. It wasn’t that I actually knew everything we needed to get… I knew we needed milk and bread. I knew Pepsi was on sale. I knew that chip chopped ham would be a welcome addition to the refrigerator.

If you are from PA you likely get the chip chopped ham reference. It’s a thing. I didn’t know for the longest time that people didn’t understand what it is… Chopped ham IS a thing almost everywhere. Isley’ s isn’t a store any more but it used to be and they had the best chip chopped ham. They still make the brand but the corner deli stores are gone now. The chip part of it is shaved fine enough that you can read through the ham if for some reason you would want to… or if you could actually get the pieces apart individually after you got it home. It is wonderful with Swiss cheese…. hot ham and Swiss… it makes the BEST ever ham bbq. And it is currently on the list of things that Bear can eat.

I hate that IPF has taken so many things away from Bear but now that I found something that he currently enjoys, I want to try to keep getting it when we can. So we did.

Going to Giant Eagle was also, for me, an adventure in seeing what life is like outside of our housing area right now. I’ve been in the house or in the yard most of the past 2 weeks. I have ventured out at the end of four leashes pretty often because it’s not the dogs’ fault that this crazy is going on and there is no one sane out and about at 5 am other than the paper guy (or girl… it’s too dark to tell). I wanted to see for myself the things they have been talking about… to see if they were really real.

They are…

Giant Eagle installed plexiglass barriers between customers and cashiers. You can reach under the cash register to scan your card, and you can reach around to pay but for the most part breathing and talking won’t reach from one side to the other.

They also have taped lines on the floor to separate customers from each other. We ended up using two carts because Bear got enough Pepsi that it was easier to push with two carts. Squirrel and Monkey Butt went with me… everyone has been going a little stir crazy… and Squirrel had issues with the tape on the floor. She wasn’t sure if she needed to stay back from me from one tape to the other or if she could push her cart up close. She was trying really hard to make sure to obey the letter of the ‘law’ but I assured her that it was all well and good to be close to me because we live in the same house anyway…

Yes… we all took precautions. We took the best precautions we could. I don’t have official masks. I don’t have the patience to try to sew them (yes, I’ve tried… I suck at sewing). But I do have Buffs (isn’t it weird how things like Buffs come in handy for so many things…. ). I have several Buffs. So in lieu of masks we made masks out of buffs. We had on latex gloves. We had my home made hand sanitizer. We were pretty much as covered as we could be.

And we weren’t the only ones. We passed people (everyone was giving everyone LOTS of room when they passed) who had on masks and it was interesting to see that most of the masked shoppers were older people (most because my little bandit herd included my 28 and my 25 year old and they both wanted to be not only safe for their own protection but for mine and Bear’s). The people with the masks always seemed to reach out with smiling eyes from atop their masks… kind of like… “Well look at us. What is this world coming to? Have the best day you can”. The older people… the ones who justifiably should probably be the most scared are the ones who will look you in the eye. Younger people (the 20 something 30 something ones) wouldn’t look at you… or looked right through you. I felt very much one of “them” in an us or them kind of way. I’m not sure why and I am probably reading entirely too much into it… but when they look right through you it is kind of off putting.

Everyone had gloves. Some blue… some clear… some pink. There were only a few shoppers who didn’t have gloves. None of the employees had gloves. Or masks.

And quiet… it was so incredibly quiet in the store. There were probably 30 shoppers in the store. A dozen or so obvious employees. There was minimal talking. It was surreal…

When I got home, I shared the picture above with the people I work with. I spent a good bit of time talking (I love being able to do IM with people… IT was made for people like me…) with one man about the experience. Why didn’t I have it delivered? Biggest reason was the chip chopped ham to be honest… you have to see if it is thin enough… but I wanted to see… to really SEE reality. And I have.

On the way home we drove past McDonalds and the drive thru was about 20 cars deep. Dunkin was completely out of donuts. Parking lots were nearly empty. Even cars seemed to be keeping extra distance between them on the road.

It all brought it thundering home. This has been real. The thought of going out places has sent me into panic attacks. Bear talked about going to visit his brother in PA and thinking through everything it would mean to do that had me absolutely in fits of terror. I would have to get gas. I would have to get food. I would have to be in a room with people I don’t live with.

I’ve never been terrified before to interact with people. I mean I don’t DO people. I don’t. I am an introvert. I could cheerfully interact with the world digitally. But I didn’t realize how many people I actually come into contacts with or what surfaces I touch that other people touch all the time.

But it isn’t all doom and gloom. And it isn’t all distancing completely. It has made me feel better that distancing physically has caused people to start reaching out digitally. People have been reaching out and talking to me in ways that they haven’t before and I actually kind of like that. This is likely to be my new mostly normal for a while… Life as we know it has changed…

And I’m here. Dogs snoring softly. Thunder rolling across the sky. Rain rattling the windows. Coffee and quiet….

Love and Light


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