empty shelves in Red Hook
Friday, March 13 2020
At around noon today I drove to the Red Hook Hannaford mostly just to get a sixer of Corona as a gag for tonight (we'd be having Jeff and Alana over for dinner). The store was unusually crowded with customers, including Reuben, a Latino guy I recognized from one of the other businesses in my office complex (he was getting bananas and several french breads). I, of course, got an "Italian" white bread and yet more canned goods (particularly tomatoes) to augment the household pandemic food stockpile. As I passed the pasta shelves, I was struck by how empty they were. I don't think I'd ever seen the results of panic buying before. The only pasta shape remaining was "stuffing shells," which must be too hard for most people to work with. The other shoppers mostly seemed to be in good humor, bemused (as I was) by the absurdity of reality in the days before the storm that is bearing down on us. There were a couple Asian customers wearing face masks, as did an older white lady who looked like she might have a lot of cats back at her house. But other than them, everyone was mask-free.
On a large cart designed for employees to carry goods to the shelves was a large mountain of mostly Corona beer, and I grabbed a 12 pack. A couple shoppers had put a bunch of 12 packs of Corona beer in their cart and were taking pictures, presumably to post on social media. As I waited in line, a young woman was telling an older woman (her mother, I suspect) that she desperately wanted to scratch her face.
After I went through the line, I realized I'd forgotten to buy limes, so I had to go through again. I hadn't really thought of the danger before I went in there, but by the time I left the Hannaford, I was keenly aware of the fact that every additional minute in that store had increased my chance of being infected by the coronavirus. I felt bad for all the minimum-wage employees who have to put in eight-hour shifts in that increasingly-infectious environment.
Back at my office, at some point the head honcho came through to tell us that next week we'd all be working remotely, but that we could still come in if necessary. It turns out that next week is one of New York State's crunch times with regard to municipal taxes (the industry in which I work), so Alex asked if I could come in next week despite the head honcho's decree. I said sure. I'm a team player, at least on this team, and the danger of exposure in a mostly-empty office is probably low.
Back at the house, Gretchen had prepared several-course meal involving a cauliflower cream soup and a pasta with lumps of seared tofu. Jeff and Alana arrived a little after 7:00pm, and there was some hugging despite the latest thinking on social distancing. Much of our conversation concerned the pandemic, though Jeff also told us about a recent several-week gig as a cameraman for a show called Live Rescue in St. Louis, Missouri, a gig that robbed him of the pleasure of his and Alana's freshly-bought house in the Kingston Township (west of Lake Katrine). I wasn't in a perfectly social mood and slowly fell asleep as the evening wound on. When I did eventually say goodnight and headed off to bed, I experienced a second wind and was able to stay up for awhile reading the latest news stories about the coronavirus pandemic.
Empty pasta shelves at the Red Hook Hannaford. But there are still stuffing shells!
Still plenty of Corona at the Red Hook Hannaford.
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