Shopping in the Time of COVID

By Jill Passmore, Visitor Experience Co-ordinator

April 7 was the first time I went to the grocery store since companies began to enforce social distancing measures. I was nervous. My anxiety always peaks if I don’t know where to go, especially in a new situation. For a week or two, I have heard of stores limiting the number of people inside their doors. A friend described Costco to me as a scene from The Walking Dead. People have waited for almost an hour in the rain waiting to get into the store. At the end of last week, my husband went to the store for groceries. Typically, we order groceries online, but upon finishing an order and scheduling a time for pickup, the only available date was April 16 – almost two weeks later. To have the same order delivered to our home was one week later. Not knowing any better, he went to the store expecting a quick shop and then to pick up the kids at daycare. Much to his dismay was a very long line of people, mostly due to social distancing, standing in front of the Superstore in North Oshawa. He went to Walmart where they hadn’t yet implemented these measures.

I had some warning. I went when I did to avoid any extra craziness before the Easter long weekend and waiting in the impending rain. I arrived and could see a lineup before finding my parking spot, but which door were they going in? More anxiety. I took my green basket and made my way to the back of the line, which started at the south produce door and hugged the building around to the north pharmacy and homewares entrance. I was awestruck, but settled in. Surprisingly it only took 15 minutes or less to get into the store, where I had to trade in my basket for one of theirs.

I only needed a few things, but eggs were mandatory for dyeing later this week. I felt as if I was forgetting something and felt guilty for wandering in an attempt to jog my memory. I also felt guilty for pausing to admire the new spring fashions. What are they going to do with all of the clothes that no one is buying?

In the north end Superstore, staff members are monitoring checkout availability from one single line. It’s still all hands on deck, the woman on shift at this position was from the optical shop. I noticed there are clear panels between the cashiers and shoppers and opaque panels between each checkout station, however I wasn’t able to get a photo. As I was going to my checkout station, the optical woman and I got in each other’s way. I was amused by her quick attempts to get away from me and of course, this just made everything worse. At the checkout lane, I made a mistake with my debit card, still musing about my dance with the optical woman. I poked my finger through the space between the debit machine and the clear panel that separated the cashier and me to make the correction. Gasp! ‘You’re not supposed to touch that!’ Shaking my head and finalizing my purchase I made my way to exchange everything in the store’s green bin, to mine.

Despite my anxiety, I managed ok figuring everything out. Though, just now I am thinking about how elderly people, those with learning disabilities and accessibility concerns are coping with all of the societal changes. It must be so confusing and disorienting; if it isn’t I give them kudos.

Published by Oshawa Museum

Since 1957, the Oshawa Museum has been acquiring and preserving for the public, records that trace Oshawa's rich history from its earliest settlement. Our collection includes historical information on Oshawa, its families, businesses, social organizations and many other areas of interest. Included in the collection are photographs, documents, scrapbooks and other Oshawa related memorabilia. In addition to making Oshawa's historical inforamtion available, our staff also provides lectures, presentations, conservation work and research assistance.

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