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.

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