Originally published in the S.F. Examiner on April 16, 2020.
It’s hot in the sun. In the shade, it’s cold. I can’t seem to catch a break with the weather today. Standing in line outside Trader Joe’s with 50 other people, I begin to question my resolve.
According to the sign, the wait time is approximately 30 minutes. The line stretches from the entrance around the side of the store, through the parking lot and down a residential street. It’s only gotten longer since I showed up, enviro-sacks in hand, 10 minutes ago. As we get closer, another sign informs potential shoppers that personal bags aren’t allowed anymore. Cashiers must use fresh paper sacks. For safety reasons. I survey the other people in line. Everyone is carrying reusable bags.
A dutiful lot, we diligently maintain the requisite six feet of space. Every few minutes the line moves forward solemnly and I take my place on the next strip of duct tape.
Facemasks are the hot new fashion accessory. Some folks have the standard surgical models, but most are wearing decorated cloth wraps. Unable to find anything else, I’m rocking the bandito look with bandana and gloves.
Fully succumbed to quarantine life, I haven’t showered in three days. My parenting skills are evident in the grime on my pants.
As we move into the shadow of the building, I zip up my jacket with a white stain on the sleeve that I hope is toothpaste and try to remember my list, which is, of course, dependent on what’s in stock.