Grocery shopping in the age of social distancing.


Sometimes, all you need is an avocado. Just one. Just one to make some avocado and toast.

Wait…

Sometimes, all you need is an avocado and a loaf of bread, so you can make some avocado and toast.

And a toaster. You’ll need a toaster.  So, sometimes you need at least three things.

Three months ago, that wasn’t an issue. You would just walk out the door, go to the Superstore, and enter with the intention of buying an avocado, a loaf of bread, and a toaster.

Of course, you’d leave with a new bread machine, a bottle of yeast, a 20-pound bag of flour, and completely forget to buy an avocado.

It was a simpler time.

But now we live in dangerous times, with a possible contagion lurking on every surface, and the potential that the people you come in contact with, might infect you with a deadly pathogen, if you come within 6 feet of their moisture.

Because of this, that leisurely trip to the foodstuff emporium, suddenly becomes a journey marked with peril, and possible jail time if you can’t figure out how long 6 feet is.

Now, more than ever, you need an avocado.

You NEED an avocado because avocado and toast calms your nerves, so you can deal with the contamination anxiety that social media posts are instilling in you. (Did you know that there are roving packs of toy poodles, spitting Covid-19 into the air? I read it on MySpace.)

Luckily, the avocado peddlers have been deemed an essential service in your area, so it’s still legal for you to obtain the high fat tropical berries, so you can spread their creamy green flesh onto toasty slices of grain loaf.

You think of ordering an avocado for delivery, so you can avoid the germ-infested world outside, but picking the right avocado is a tactile procedure. It needs to yield to your touch slightly, like a new Nerf football. Not too soft, like an old Nerf football that’s in a puddle, or too hard like a frozen Nerf football.

No, you’ll have to venture out to the sustenance bodega in order to obtain your hipster comfort food.

But you’ll need to prepare, so you can guarantee your safety.

Luckily, you have a plan. And a gallon bucket of hand sanitizer you bought 4 years ago at the Costco because it was such a good deal.

You dig the hand sanitizer out from under the unopened bread machine box, and find that there’s just enough room in the bucket to dunk your head in.

Perfect.

Besides sanitizing your noggin, it also makes a kick-ass hair gel. And the smell will help with the social distancing.

You saw something in your MySpace feed, that masks can help control the spread of the malady, so you open your commedia dell’arte chest, and choose a Pantalone.

Next, you take six rulers from the extra-large case of rulers you also obtained from Costco, and tape them together end to end. This way, you can swing the rulers around your head like a propeller with a six-foot radius, just to be sure you’re in compliance with the distancing rules.

Then you grab all of your shopping supplies, including your Nerf football for avocado comparison, slathering them in more banana scented Costco hand sanitizer.

Then the final step is to wrap yourself in 200 feet of plastic wrap (same Costco trip), and stuff more of the hand sanitizer into your pockets so you can touch up your disinfection later.

Now you are ready for your avocado expedition.

You depart your abode, opening the front door for the first time in three weeks, expecting to see a grey dystopia, complete with spitting toy poodles. But instead, you find that the snow has started to melt, the birds are chirping, and the squirrels are mating, right in the middle of the deserted street.

Making your way down the sidewalk, you start swinging the ruler propeller, but there isn’t anyone to keep a distance from, except for an indignant sparrow that you accidently graze. But you keep up the rotation, just in case a tainted seagull tries to cough on you.

You realize how ridiculous you must look, a madman wearing an Italian character mask, wrapped in plastic film, swirling a blade made up of duct taped rulers, and dripping with hand sanitizer that covers everything above your shoulders. But it turns out to be a very successful strategy for social distancing, for even when you do happen upon another human being, they are so aghast that they quickly cross to the other side of the street.

As you approach the food merchant, you notice that things are very different from the last time you’ve been there. There is a substantial line-up of people with generous spaces between them, that snakes all the way into the parking lot. A middle-aged woman, dressed in a safety vest, screams pandemic instructions into a megaphone, while two intense looking gentlemen scan the lineup for infractions while wearing full tactical gear.

It looks like obtaining an avocado is going to be more arduous than it was pre-pandemic.

You take your place in the queue, still swinging your ruler saber, and listening to all of the instructions to keep everyone safe.

“DO NOT ENTER IF YOU HAVE ANY PLAGUE LIKE SYMPTOMS. KEEP YOUR DISTANCE FROM OTHER PEOPLE AT ALL TIMES. DO NOT LICK THE SHOPPING CARTS. DO NOT TOUCH YOUR FACE. DO NOT TOUCH YOUR FRIEND’S FACE. IF YOU TOUCH YOUR FRIEND’S FACE, YOU ARE TOO CLOSE TO YOUR FRIEND. EAT BRAN. FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS GIVEN TO YOU BY ALL STAFF AND HIRED GOONS. SIGNAGE INSIDE WILL DIRECT YOU TO THE PATH THAT YOU MUST FOLLOW ONCE INSIDE THE STORE. DO NOT DEVIATE FROM THE PATH. KEEP TWO METERS BETWEEN YOU AND ALL OTHER PEOPLE AT ALL TIMES!”

You notice that one of the intense gentlemen in tactical gear is looking at you….

“SIR! YES, YOU SIR! ARE YOU SWINGING SIX RULERS TAPED TOGETHER TO KEEP PEOPLE SIX FEET AWAY FROM YOU?!”

 

“Yes….”

 

“THIS IS CANADA SIR. WE USE THE METRIC SYSTEM AND THE REQUIRED DISTANCE BETWEEN PEOPLE IS TWO METERS! PLACE YOUR RULERS ON THE GROUND AND BACK UP!”

You do as you’re told, and back off from the bombastic preservation warden. He sprays your rulers with some sort of bleaching agent, pulls a police baton from his utility belt, and affixes it to the end of your imperial measuring propeller.

“TWO METERS IS 6.54 FEET! YOUR SOCIAL DISTANCING DEVICE WAS OVER SIX INCHES SHORT! IT SHOULD BE FINE NOW!”

 

“Thank you….”

 

“AND MAY I SAY, NICE MASK. ALTHOUGH I WOULD HAVE GONE WITH Il CAPITANO!”

After a few minutes, the line-up starts to move, and you feel like you need to decontaminate again. You reach into your pockets to get some more alcohol infused goo, and slather it all over your face. Unfortunately, you breath in some of it, which causes you to cough uncontrollably.

Panic ensues, as everyone in line thinks you are one of the infected.

The woman with the megaphone, points at you and shrieks, with a look on her face like Donald Southerland in Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and then runs at top speed away from you, blaring “COVID ALERT! COVID ALERT!” through the megaphone.

Once everyone scatters and the screams die down in the distance, you find yourself the only one in line.

The security guard who helped you with your rulers says “Well played, you may enter.”

A staff member in a hazmat suit greets you as you enter, and hands you a shopping cart with a “sanitized” sticker on it. They then point to the floor, where there are arrows taped to the floor, and says “Follow the path” amidst Darth Vader breathing sounds.

“All I want is an avocado, can’t I just make my way to the produce section and…”

“FOLLOW THE PATH SIR!”

You slowly follow the masses, 6.54 feet away from the person in front of you, starting with the frozen food section, through the feminine hygiene aisle, and the empty shelves in the bathroom tissue zone. By the time you reach international foods, the person in front of you starts weeping, and moaning “Why did they start us at frozen foods? My calorie reduced, artisan frozen yogurt is going to melt before we get to baking needs!”

The usual muzak that was piped through the sound system has been replaced with more instructions about how to wash your hands, how to properly sneeze, and a list of penalties for any attempt at human contact.

You finally arrive at the produce section, and see the pile of avocados in the distance. Pulling out your Nerf football in anticipation, you see someone in front of the avocados testing multiple fruits for firmness.

The crowd reacts in ire, chiding the person for spreading Covid cooties by touching multiple avocados “You’re infecting the whole batch!”, “Oh my God, you’ll kill us all!”, and “They’re avocados, not covicados!”.

You put the football away, and try to guess which avocados are ripe by colour. The first one you grab has the texture of room temperature butter, and the other one feels like a baseball, but you’re not going to put them back for fear of being shunned by the other food mart patrons.

You enter the chute that directs you to the tills, and are told that you can’t pay with cash because it’s contaminated, so you pay the $2.64 with a credit card, which adds a five dollar fee due to a transaction under $10.

On the way out, you give your cart to another hazmat employee, and they pull out a firehose to wash it down while saying “have a nice day” under their breath.

It takes you much longer to get home, because on the way you see an elderly gentleman walking his toy poodle, and you just don’t want to take the chance that it spits the Covid on you, so you take the long way home.

Just before you enter your home, you rip off the plastic wrap, and strip off all of your clothes and throw them into the fire pit. As you open your front door, naked, holding a football and two terrible avocados, you swear you see a worn out squirrel wink at you.

But you feel a sense of triumph, because you got your avocados, and now you can make your avocado and toas……..

 

You forgot bread.

 

Damn.

 

Time to finally pull that bread machine out of the box and read the instructions….

 

Shelves

 

Fine Travels


I’m fine.

 

No, really, I’m fine.

 

Ok, I’m a little stressed, but I’m fine.

 

Maybe more than a little stressed because I’m traveling, and travel is stressful.

 

Did you know that Fakeipedia says that travel is the 3rd most stressful thing anybody can put themselves through, right behind missing the winning field goal in the Superbowl, and supervising a field trip to a gunpowder factory with 62 seven year olds who’ve just eaten a 2 pound bag of sugar… each? It’s on the Internet so it must be true.

I imagine that the amount of stress from travel depends on the type of travel combined with how far you are going. For instance, when we get off of our couch, during the commercial break of Sheriff Lobo, and travel to the fridge for another “delicious” Pabst Ultra-Lite with “Lime”, the stress is fairly low.

When we get off of our couch, during the commercial break of Sheriff Lobo, and travel to Chongju North Korea by steerage on a Turkish oil tanker for another “delicious” Glorious Leader Malt Liquor™, it’s a little more stressful.

Air travel seems to fall somewhere in between these two examples, (even though it can feel a lot like steerage on an oil tanker) and you would think that it would get less stressful the more you flew. Sadly, this is not the case.

 

If you are a person who only flies occasionally, say once every few years, air travel becomes an exciting stressful adventure. You start by booking a ticket to London England, nine months before you want to travel, because there is a Super-Duper-Seat-Sale where you can save 3% on your ticket (not including security fees, airport fees, taxes, and flight attendant polyester uniform surcharges), but you’ll have to pay extra for all of your luggage and seat selection.

Then 6 months before you fly, you see a Facebook event about a Sheriff Lobo festival that happens in Cornwall, three days before you are due to arrive in the UK, so you change your flight in order to attend, (for a flight change and internet inconvenience fee) and start combing the Value Villages for cowboy hats, sheriff badges, and a Deputy Perkins bald cap.

But then 3 months before you go, you discover that the Sheriff Lobo festival is only celebrating season 2, which is when they changed the format and added that stupid alien deputy from outer space, and you are NOT subjecting yourself to those horrors again, so you change back to the flight you originally had (for a repeat business indecision fee) but you keep the Sheriff Lobo costume so you can wear it around the house and to weddings.

Two months before you are due to leave, the Canadian economy takes a nose dive, and the British economy surges due to the rise in the price of scones, and you end up needing $14.45 Canadian to buy a Pound Sterling, but you’ve already booked your vacation days from work, so you can’t cancel.

But then you see something on the Twitter about a copycat Burning Man festival called Smoldering Dude that takes place just outside of Butte Montana. They encourage participants to bring their musical instruments and “Jam whilst the Dude smolders”, and since you just bought that one of a kind amazing banjo off of Ebay, you think “I can smolder”.

 

So you change your flight again (for a rudeness levy and a British colony rejection fee) and prepare for the trip by practicing Radiohead on your banjo, cutting a bunch of holes in your Wranglers, and growing a beard so you can fit in with the rest of the Butte Smolderers.

Two weeks before the trip, you start gathering all the things you need and start packing. After packing, you decide that a giant rolling suitcase might look out of place at Smoldering Dude, so you go on to Ebay and buy a top of the line 80 litre German made backpack that is constructed from the same space age polymers that were used to make The CERN Large Hadron Collider. It only cost you a nonrefundable $1800 because you used some of your frequent flyer points along with a gift card that you got from Secret Santa two years ago, otherwise it would have been $2100.

So you unpack your Jar Jar Binks super-roller suitcase and you congratulate yourself for being a savvy shopper.

The next day you see the exact same backpack in a window at the mall for $49.95.

 

The day after that, whilst getting all of your travel documents together, you discover that your passport expires right in the middle of your trip, the same day that they will try and light the hundred foot stick figure that is made from wet hay and fire retardant wicker. You can’t miss the excitement of smoldering the Dude!

So you rush out and get yourself a prison photo and then run to the passport office and fill out the paperwork for a rush renewal (which includes a very large tardiness fee and the standard secret government agency intrusion tax). It should be ready for pick-up the day before you leave, so everything will work out fine. Yes, it’ll be fine.

A week later, you start to get worried about whether your backpack is going to arrive in the mail, so you repack the Jar-Jar Binks super-roller and hope the smolderers will think that it’s bitchin’, and welcome you into their smoldering fold.

 

That night you get an email, from Ebay, announcing that the backpack will be delivered by courier the day before your trip, the same day that you’re supposed to pick up your passport. Oh crap.

So the day before your trip you rush out first thing in the morning to receive your passport and pay the penitentiary photo pose payment, and rush back to your residence hoping you didn’t miss the delivery.

 

Sure enough, as you round the corner, you see a big truck that is just about to pull away, and a note pasted to your door, that you just know says something like “Sorry we missed you, but we were watching your place and waited until you left to make the delivery. You can pick up your package at our offices, which are located on a dirt road 40 miles outside of the city. Our office hours are from 1:15 pm until 1:45 pm. Please bring 9 pieces of photo ID and a note from a priest to collect your package.”

So you run at top speed screaming “Stop!” and throw yourself in front of the truck, skinning your knee and dropping your new passport into a puddle in the process.

The driver kindly releases your package, (after you pay the vehicle obstruction fine) and you unpack the Jar-Jar Binks super-roller, pack your newly acquired Überteuert brand backpack, and try to dry your passport off with a hairdryer. Even though it was a harrowing day…  you’re fine. Everything’s going to be fine.

 

You arrive at the airport after a sleepless night with your Überteuert on your back, a banjo in its case, and wearing the Sheriff Lobo costume complete with Wranglers that have holes cut in them.

When you check in, the attendant hands you some bad news.

 

“I’m sorry sir, but your musical instrument can not be brought on as carry-on luggage, you’ll have to check it”

“I can’t check this! It’s a Stradivarius banjo! Its name is Bob.”

“I’m sorry, but your strangely gender specific eighteenth century Italian banjo cannot be brought onboard… unless you buy it a seat.”

“Fine then, that’s what we’ll do. Bob can have his own seat. Fine.”

So you buy Bob a seat (which includes a non-biological passenger surcharge).

 

Then as you pass through security, you’re stopped again.

 

“Sir, impersonating an officer of the law is against government regulations, you can’t fly dressed like that.”

“But these are my Sheriff Lobo threads!”

“Sorry, in order to proceed you’ll just have to be a Lobo without the sheriff. Hand over the badge and hat.”

 

Reluctantly you comply and step through the metal detector, which sets off all of the klaxons.

 

“Sir, do you have anything in your pockets?”

“No.”

“Are you wearing anything metal?”

“I’m wearing my commemorative Lionel Richie sequined boxer shorts… are sequins metal?”

“Sir, step into that room over there and somebody will be with you shortly.”

 

After a quick strip search (and an antiquated pop culture underpants levy), you head to your gate just as you hear your last name being called.

 

“Congratulations sir, you’ve been upgraded.”

“Finally, something good has happened today.”

“That’s right Bob, you now have a seat in first class.”

“Wait, I’m not Bob. Bob is my banjo, they made me get him a seat right beside me.”

“Oh, well then, your banjo has been upgraded to first class then.”

“Well where am I?”

“You’re in steerage.”

 

So you watch your beloved stringed instrument board the plane when zone 1 is called, and then you wait for your turn when zone 37 is finally announced. You reach your middle seat and find that you’re sitting between a four year old child and its mother who has the flu. When you offer to switch seats with the mother, she insists that her child stays farther away so it doesn’t catch the flu and she’ll just talk over you when needed.

Later, when the flight attendant brings you a quarter can of flat soda, you can just see past the curtain into first class where Bob is enjoying a glass of Château Lafite Rothschild Cabernet Sauvignon with his meal of pheasant in a truffle reduction served over a pomegranate risotto with a side of sautéed fingerling pumpkins.

You try to enjoy the inflight entertainment system, but their copy of Dumb and Dumber 2 is only in Portuguese with Korean subtitles. However, if you strain to hear, you can pick up the live performance in first class of Sir Ian Mckellen reading his favourite Maya Angelou poems.

 

After you disembark and collect Bob from his personal concierge, you head to collect your Überteuert from the luggage carousel, but it is nowhere to be found. When you enquire, you discover that it has been mistakenly sent to Southern Liechtenstein, but you can get it back in four to six weeks (after you pay the European wayward baggage tariff).

As you leave the airport, you are greeted by the smoulderers who agreed to pick you up in their 1976 Ford Pinto.

“Hey! You made it! And you brought Bob, that’s fantastic! We can jam at the event, but I have to warn you that we can’t play any Radiohead due to their views on fire retardant wicker. Not cool man, not cool. So how was your trip?”

 

 

“It was fine… just fine.”

 

banjo

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Laundry Day


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