THE CORONA PAPERS

3/28/20

This morning, the plan was to go to Wegman’s, buy a few things we needed and also to shop for the community cupboard where supplies were dwindling. It was the first time I’d been food-shopping since what’s basically a lock-down on the whole area, and I couldn’t wait to get out of that store once I walked in.

In normal times—do we remember normal times? And what was that?—I wouldn’t have thought anything of the crowd. In a normal time, on a damp Saturday morning, this place of business would not have felt crowded or strange or scary. I would have been in and out, indiscriminately putting my hands anywhere—do I like these grapes or those? Let me get the yogurt carton behind this one.

But today, too many people! Everyone else, entering and leaving, used the hand sanitizers at the front of the store, but I kept my winter gloves on the whole time while undercurrents of the threat growled at me.

Everyone was trying, you could see that, to keep the safe distances, but that virus, I couldn’t get away from its ugly threat. No matter where we went, someone had just been there, and I felt the fullness of tiny, invisible murderers in the air. How do you dodge invisible murderers?

“We should have groceries delivered from now on,” I said. “I don’t want to do this again.”

We persevered, got the groceries—milk and yogurt and grapes and cat litter and cat food for us. Then, for total strangers, or maybe not so total—how do you know?—rice and peanut butter (limit two) and pasta and and and for whoever needed what we chose. Granola bars, cans of pork and beans (limit two), crackers. We waited behind the red line, then the yellow line, before reaching the noble cashier.

I kept my winter gloves on the whole time and considered burning them when we got home. And my coat. And shoes. Over-reacting? But that grim bug out there, and me with no useful flyswatter. I hated this place.

We left, loaded our donations in boxes ready for them in the trunk of the car, pulled through the lot in time to see someone’s eight-pack of toilet paper just lying on the wet pavement. I opened my window.

“Sir! Sir! Your toilet paper!”

I don’t know. Could have been paper towels.

And the man, who’d been going blithely on his way, not registering my shout until he realized his cart was missing this particular piece of gold, turned around, gave us a sheepish look, and returned to his treasure.

Time was getting short. The food for the community pantry was being collected curbside for a mere hour, and only fifteen minutes of that time remained. We arrived at the site, saw a man standing beside a pick-up truck parked on the grass. He lit up when he saw us.

“Thank you so much!” he said.

We popped the trunk, and he took our donation.

“Seen much action this morning?” John asked.

“You’re only my second,” he answered. “I think it’s the rain,” and I thought, hunger doesn’t go away in the rain.

Wouldn’t that be great if it did?

“Thank you so much,” he said again. “Thank you so much.”

You could hear the gratitude in his heart, see it on his face.

We drove away.

“We did our good deed for the day,” said John.

We did. Our little drop in the bucket. I wish we had at least quadrupled it. Next time.

But next time, also, we may order the whole thing delivered before we make our donation.

Thank you so much!

By authorsusanshaw

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