COVID 19: Fear And Loathing In New Jersey

  • Friday / March 13, 2020
COVID 19: Fear And Loathing In New Jersey

COVID 19: Fear And Loathing In New Jersey

COVID 19: Fear And Loathing In New Jersey 01I went grocery shopping for my mom & myself yesterday (Thursday March 12, 2020). By 11:00 AM Costco Ocean was already swamped with panicking people. Costco opens at 10AM. So many people were panic shopping, there were no carts inside of Costco. On any “normal” day there would be a minimum of 3-4 rows of shopping carts. I had to roam the parking lot to find one. Once inside, at the door was a person wiping down every incoming cart with Clorox wipes before you could enter. Only problem: the person was using one wipe on multiple carts. Not all that helpful.

In the paper section and at multiple locations throughout the store there were MOUNTAINS of toilet paper. It was comical, scary, & quite sobering. I saw people who had 3 or more of the Costco 64(?) roll packs jammed into their carts and very little food stuffs. Guess they intend to shit more than eat? Just a little excessive. You think? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Another sobering consequence of frenzy shopping: Costco had signs everywhere stating you could only take 2 of many food items. For the most part my Costco shopping was for my mom’s food stuffs. All I bought for myself was a large pack of romaine hearts, spinach, and a three pound bag of Starbucks French Roast coffee—the important things! And of course—a 24-pack of Scott’s TP. When in Rome! For mom, frozen salmon, cod steaks, fresh strawberries, and other staples I could get there. I didn’t go crazy. Bought what I needed and TRIED to get out as quickly as I could with as little interaction as I could.

COVID 19: Fear And Loathing In New Jersey 02The lines were INSANE. There was a line for every opened register (though they should have been ALL open) that went half way back into the store. I wish I would have taken photos. It took over 30 minutes to get checked out. Just nuts! All the while trying to keep distance from possible infection vectors: A.K.A. stupid people. The cashier got a little pissed at me because I wouldn’t let her touch my Costco card and made her scan it from my hands. Sorry … no touching!

I was amazed at the quantities of products piled up in families multiple grocery carts, and those flat bed carts. This one young-ish woman had two flatbed carts piled up over the handles with all kinds of items, and as she stood in line, her TWO KIDS were bringing back more items and piling them on. Okay … why the fuck would you expose your two young (8-12 yr old) children to the possibility of exposure—first hand! (No pun intended.) Just one example of people who just don’t get it yet—well—in my mind.

Once out of that madhouse, it was off to Wegmans just a few blocks away from Costco. When I lived in Asbury these were my two main places to shop. Even living in Pineyville I still trek up to Ocean to shop because I can’t get many of the products I’ve grown accustomed to down here in Ocean County.

Things were not much better. The parking lot was packed & the inside was crazy. They had a sanitizing wipe station you could wipe your cart & your hands— though that’s ALWAYS there. Thankful it was after Costco!

COVID 19: Fear And Loathing In New Jersey 03I went straight to the organic produce section & grabbed a plastic bag to use as a glove so I protected myself & my fellow shoppers—just in case. But not all people are THAT aware or cautious yet. I don’t think it’s paranoia, it’s a mix of common courtesy, and caution. I used that bag the rest of my shopping trip down the “empty canned soup isle” looking for items for my mom. There was no Wegmans organic tofu left, no SoyBoy tempeh left. Luckily I had a cache from my previous weeks shopping. But in Wegmans there were NO paper products left. Even though I had bought mine @ Costco … just wanted to check.

I got all I needed and went to check out. The lines weren’t as crazy, but at least Wegmans opened up more lines as needed.

I left with what I could and on the way out … a little spritz from the Purell dispenser at the exit.

Thank you Wegmans!

COVID 19: Fear And Loathing In New Jersey 04Back in my neck of the woods: A.K.A. Pineyville. I also had to make stops at Aldi & Walmart. Aldi wasn’t too crazy. I was texting with an Aldi manger friend of mine last night at 10:30 PM and he said as he was leaving his closed store, people were still trying to get in an hour and a half after its 9:00 PM closing. WTF???

Aldi had no wipe or sanitizer stations. Just sayin … It wasn’t as packed, but the lines were long because they only had 2 lines open. Huh? I also did the grab a plastic produce bag and use it as a glove to pick up items in the store. Yes. My paranoia is realz too!!! Oh wait. Protection methods.

With all the craziness I saw I think this image “took the viral cake”! As I was waiting to make a left turn to get out of my Aldi parking space I saw this senior citizens bus unloading this elderly woman—had to be in her 80s or 90s. She was standing on top of this bus lift with her rolling walker. She was impeccably dressed, blue-gray hair teased and quaffed, freshly powdered face and bright bright red lipstick, with her best Sunday go to meeting dress on, including jewels: all to shop at Aldi. Not giving a damn she was in one of the most vulnerable groups to contract this virus. She didn’t care—her face said as much—head held high, high up on that pedestal. I’m sure she was a Trump supporter and got her news from Fox. The irony was palpable. It made me laugh and cringe in horror. What in he world could this senior citizens home be thinking to allow the people to go out when the CDC is telling them to protect themselves by staying in? It’s times like these: people completely baffle me!

COVID 19: Fear And Loathing In New Jersey 05Meanwhile … back at the last leg of my shopping excursion …

Walmart was nuts too. But they had sani-wipes at the door & receptacles to dispose of the used wipes on the other side of the entrance. That was smart! So I wiped coming & going.

Once I got home …washed my hands and commenced unpacking groceries & TRYING to unwind; listening to music while putting groceries away. I then filled my mom in on all the craziness going on out there. With my mom being 92 & my having an autoimmune disease (Sarcoidosis) … trying to shop had an extra layer of stress to it—fo’ realz! My mom and I also discussed the house was off limits to ANY visitors: even family members. We also discussed her not going anywhere—even to get her hair done—which she normally does every week or so. She agreed—which actually surprised the hell out of me. She DOES get what’s going on. That helps my stress level quite a bit—not always having to play the heavy in this also feels good.

COVID 19: Fear And Loathing In New Jersey 06In closing …

It’s not bad enough that the Trump administration bungled this from the start, with lies and obfuscation; the end result is people trying to get REAL information to protect themselves and their families are on their own. Rather that reassuring the public Trump and the Gang Of 45 are dragging their feet in any way they can—and they think that’s okay!

A malignant narcissist like Trump can only fake/play act empathy, the only thing on his mind is how best to get himself reelected and stay in power—’cause he sure loves that illusion and the amount of cash he can amass at other’s expense. If a few hundred thousand elderly and poor people are killed via COVID 19—all the better. Less Medicare, and Social Security that needs to be paid—and they weren’t going to vote for him anyway! So fuck ’em! Yeah that’s my thinking these days.

This outbreak, ensuing panic, and market crash is like nothin I’ve seen in my lifetime so far. I’m writing this not to point the finger of blame—though I have & do—it’s more to do a brain dump. Not like I have tons/any people to talk to about it. So here I sit at my computer venting until the next grocery run I’ll need to make in a few weeks. Hopefully by then we’ll get a better handle on the severity and handling of this pandemic.

All I can do it wait and see … and wash my hands!

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Joe Streno

Joe Streno

artist . musician . photographer . retired apple computer consultant . residing on planet earth with his two cats rudie, & rocco & living to tell tales about it

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