“To be or not to be, that is the question” Hamlet is famous for pondering. For me, it is always “To do or not to do” – should I take in my reusable bag or leave it in the car.
Grocery shopping during the pandemic has become quite the challenge. It used to be so simple. You went into the store, loaded the cart with things you really didn’t need but were too weak to resist, put the little divider behind the groceries of the customer in front of you, unloaded them onto the conveyer belt and went back to reading up on the gossip of people in Hollywood you didn’t even know in magazines you would never buy. Once the groceries were scanned, you paid and a nice young man or lady perhaps attending college, or not, arranged it carefully into paper bags and put them in the cart. One of the stores at which I regular shop, insisted then on pushing the cart to my car and lifting them into my trunk.
Several of my friends, also in their “Golden Years” (what precisely, does THAT mean?) barely venture out of their home and wouldn’t dream of entering a grocery store until everyone is vaccinated. They have friends or family members who shop for them, or they order online to the grocery store and have their groceries delivered by the store or through one of these new- fangled services such as Instacart, Uber Eats and let’s not forget Amazon.
If they don’t want to be bothered to make a shopping list for grocery delivery, then there are over twenty companies such as Hello Fresh, Home Fresh, Blue Apron, Sun Basket who deliver all the ingredients and the recipe in a box and all they have to do is chop and cook.
Supporting local restaurants and their employees is a civic duty and a pleasurable one at that. It is also encouraging entrepreneurial young companies such as DoorDash and GrubHub who pick up your order at the restaurant and bring it to your home.
I like to cook. Cooking is another hobby to fill the hours and to try out new recipes. A trip to the grocery store is my one big social outing of the week. I even wear lipstick under my mask and brush my hair. But as soon as I leave the car to walk towards one of my four favorite stores, a sign, looking at this point rather bedraggled, reminds me to bring my reusable bag. It is then I have to stop and think now, is this the store where “I do, or I don’t?” You see, some stores now will not even allow your reusable bag into the store. The groceries are placed back in the cart which you then take out to the car and load everything into bags you hopefully have remembered to place there. Or of course, you could pay 75 cents or a dollar for three or four bags and then they will bag them for you.
I don’t know about you, but I already have about a hundred brown paper bags stuffed inside my pantry. I rarely have a use for a brown paper bag but I just cannot throw them away. Each one is worth .25 cents after all.
At another store you can bring in your bag, but you must store it on the lower level of the cart and then you can pack it at a special table set up outside with sanitizing sprays and wipes.
Then another store allows you to bring in your bag but you must pack it yourself while the cashier is helping the next customer.
Then there is the store that happily packs your bags for you while carrying on a pleasant conversation and you feel despite masks and social distancing everywhere, grocery shopping really hasn’t change that much after all.