The State of “Coronavirus Etiquette”


I was organized.  

Water bottle, Gatorade, mints, wipes, sanitizer, mask, Keats, notebook, pen,  Band-Aids, Neosporin, Tylenol, stethoscope (just kidding)…

Part ardent bicyclist, part Cherry Ames, I was ready for a bike trip.  And on the way, I would pick up a few things at the store.

 Before the state reopened (though too early, in my view), shopping was a trial.  The thing is, we realized early on that curbside service is not for bicyclists.  Store employees were flummoxed because they are instructed to stow the item in a car trunk.  We don’t do curbside pickup at the library, either, because the policy discriminates against pedestrians and bicyclists.  YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE IN A CAR AT ALL TIMES. 

Although I don’t shop much, I am grateful that some stores now have online shopping and store pickup. Your means of transportation doesn’t matter to anyone then.   I am picky about where I shop:  honestly, the corporate stores have the best social distancing strategies, because they have more money and more space than small businesses. There are six-foot markings on the floor where you stand in line,  the now-usual plexiglass cubes on the counter to protect cashiers and customers, and a large open area  beside the lines so that people are not squeezing into your space.  

At stores you cannot help but observe the state of “coronavirus etiquette,” just as some people find themselves watching birds during the pandemic.   In our midwestern “nice” state, most people wear masks and try to observe social distance. Of course there are always a few merry rebels:  a laughing maskless father and daughter broke the tense silence and emitted invisible gobs of spit. (HERE’S THE THORNFIELD HALL DAILY HEALTH QUIZ:  On a scale of 1 to 5, would you say the pandemic has driven you (a) insanely OCD, (b) very OCD, (c) moderately OCD, (d)  slightly OCD, or (e) free of OCD but with a tendency to laugh like the Joker.

The problem at the store wasn’t social distancing: the real problem was that there were not enough cashiers   An old woman behind me was very indignant about the long wait.  “How are we supposed to get help around here?” she called loudly.  But there was no one to answer.

I would have offered her something calming from what I  call my First Responder Bag–perhaps a mint or Gatorade–but these are not the times for sharing.

4 thoughts on “The State of “Coronavirus Etiquette””

  1. I went on my first shopping expedition since lockdown yesterday and was horrified by a) how diffident I was and b) the fact that the farm shop I went into was filthy. Why have I never noticed before how bad the hygiene is in there? I shall be sticking with home deliveries for the foreseeable future!

    1. Staying home is best! The farm shop sounds like a nightmare, though, as I said, the store I went to had obviously spent time and money on the plan. I do wonder if we’ll keep wearing masks even after the pandemic, though.

  2. Hahaha. We went to the hardware store for the first time since the shelter-in-place orders, last week, a chain store (Canadian Tire, like Home Depot but with more automotive than lumber) and we literally had to stand in the space where we were intended to have parked our car. And then we had to go back to the original “store line” to explain that we were being overlooked out behind the store (hardware stores are actually now open again, and people are eager to browse fuses and coffee makers, brooms and screwdrivers) and then return to our “parking space” to try waiting again. But the staff were obviously overworked and discombobulated too. It can’t be any fun.

    I can see the Cherry-Ames-readiness plan, but I’ve taken another approach because I loathe the task of wiping down or washing everything when I come home again. I’ve got it down to a single item and a key and a baggie for my mask (lest I’m able to remove it while walking on quieter streets).

    1. We live in a small city, so our long lines are nothing like yours! I can see the appeal of going minimalist.

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