Grocery shopping adventures

It’s Saturday morning, but weekends have taken on a decidedly different feel to them now. “We don’t have to worry about what we’re doing tomorrow,” my wife said to me yesterday while we were talking in bed. No, we won’t be going out and about today, besides maybe a walk around the neighborhood, but with my wife home to help handle the kids, this might be the most productive I’ve been all week.

The house has slipped into a bit of a mess as I’ve struggled to keep up with the un-cleaning abilities of my two children. We’ve had a pile of crafts on the dining room table for almost two weeks now that needs some attention. I’m hoping to rearrange some things in the kitchen, and the garage desparately needs a good cleaning out. Somehow my wife managed to get the kids to believe that washing the cars was some kind of treat, so we may do that as well.

We’ll have to do some grocery shopping, or online ordering this weekend. I failed to account for the amount of food that these kids eat, and since my wife is no longer eating out at work, I’ve got to step up the amount that we buy by some amount. I’ll have to focus on making larger amounts when I cook, because cooking from scratch during the week every day is wearing me out. I just wish my kids weren’t so damn picky. I also need a way to buy certain items in bulk without having to go through Amazon. I buy these small half pound containers of nuts and trailmix, but I go through them so fast, I need to find some three pound bags of the stuff that I like, and more importantly, I need to find something that the girls like so I don’t have to keep feeding them crackers and other high-carb garbage all the time. And my oldest is going through peanut butter like nobody’s business.

The girls have made me promise them a trampoline. They’ve been asking for years, literally, but we’ve pushed back on it with various excuses, mainly that our yard already has a large playhouse, plus two trees, so we don’t really have room for a ten or fifteen foot trampoline in it. But now I’ve relented, and have been forced to agree that we will purchase one in five weeks, when the refund from day care comes through. Hopefully it won’t attract every kid in the surrounding neighborhood.

As far as the pandemic goes, it has finally hit the city. I read in the paper that a local police officer has tested positive. This individual was the booking and intake officer for the local jail, of all people, so I have a feeling things are about to turn into Rikers Island over there.

We, meaning my daughters and I, seemed to have developed a bit of a dry cough. It’s not too bad, and we don’t have any other symptoms right now, but it’s got me a bit worried. The girls have been playing very closely with the same small groups of friends for the last week, and I haven’t been around anyone except during my last grocery store run, which was a bit of a disaster.

My car was a bit slow to start when I left the house, it seemed like it turned over slowly a few times. I attributed it to the car having sit in the driveway for a full week, but it made it to the store with no problem. I got my groceries from a young associate, and tried to maintain social distance with the loading, but she got a bit close for my liking. We had some small talk, and I went back into the car and turned the key. Clickclicckclickclickclick. Nothing. Again, clickclickclickclickclick. She was dead. Mild panic set in as I tried to figure my best options, I texted my wife to let her know that I was having problems, that I was going to see if I could get a jump and might need her to come get me.

A car with a young couple pulled up in the spot next to me, but they walked into the store before I was ready to start asking. I had been watching the parking lot for a few minutes while I waited for my groceries. The store was busy, it was after 5PM on a Wednesday and people were going about their business. The only sign that there was a pandemic going on were a few people I saw going into the store wearing facemasks. One woman, probably in her fifties, came out carrying only a twelve pack of soda. I was dumbfounded that someone could be so seemingly careless.

I got out of the car and asked the first person to walk near, a white man, thirtyish, if he had cables. He did, but said he couldn’t give me a jump. He was glad to talk, and told me he had fried his Jeep’s electrical giving too many people jumps in the past, and launched into an explanation about feedback or some kind of surge caused by the vehicle being jumped. I asked if he could at least let me borrow the cables while he was shopping and I’d leave them at his Jeep. We walked back to the car, the dude still talking non-stop about whether he actually had them or not. We got to his Jeep, and he excitedly showed me a a twenty year old Apple II that he had found lying on the curb. It was surely worth thousands, he told me, if he could get it to work. Certainly, I agreed with him.

He didn’t have the cables, so we walked back to my car, I thanked him, and he went in. I cursed my luck. I leafed through the car’s user manual to make sure I knew how to jump it. I looked up possible alternative solutions on my phone and popped the trunk, checking the terminal cables. No fix. I texted my wife, “You’re my only hope, Obi Wan.”

I scanned the parking lot, looking for people or cars I thought might be likely to have cables. A jacked up pickup truck with FUCK GUN CONTROL window decal and a LVURSLF vanity plate? Yep, I though. A large, clean silver Dodge Ram pulled up and looked promising, so texted my wife to wait a minute and got out again.

The owner, an older black man, pulled a small device out of a bag. “That’ll jump it?” I asked, amazed. “It jumped that truck,” he replied, nodding back at his vehicle. After a couple of failed attempts, he allowed that the device may have been sitting in his car too long and might not have enough juice. I thanked him for his time. And got back in my car, squirting on some hand sanitizer.

By this time the couple parked next to me were walking back to their car, I asked them if they could give me a jump. Yes they said. The woman pulled some cables from her trunk and I noticed she was late in her second trimester of pregnancy. I felt vaugely guilty as we broke social distancing walking around her car. Our cars were parked a bit to far apart than ideal, and as the man and I struggled to untangle the cables, a woman approached carrying a portable jump starter. “Right on,” I told her.

The woman appeared underdressed for the weather, which was a bit brisk for me in my jeans and sweater. She looked a bit butch with her short haircut and was wearing basketball shorts and jersey. She got the jumper hooked up right way, and after a failed attempt and a quick reattachment, the engine turned over and started up. I thanked everyone profusely and got ready to leave. My wife pulled up right after, with both kids in the back seat. I told her we were good to go and followed her back to the house.

So, despite my best efforts to separate myself from everyone for the past couple weeks, a small little automotive setback at the grocery store expanded the number of people that I came in contact with. My wife and I realize how lucky we are, that millions of people have lost their job these last few days, and our income has not only remained the same, but our expenses have gone down. This world is crazy.

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