Ghettoford in the pandemic
Saturday, April 11 2020
This evening for pandemic-era date night, Gretchen and I decided to venture into Uptown Kingston to get provisions from the Uptown Hannaford (aka "Ghettoford") and then get our favorite dishes from Yum Yum (which is still functioning in a carry-out-only capacity). The most desperate of our needs was for matzoh, given the season. Obviously, we didn't actually need to have matzoh, but eating the flavorless unleavened bread is a fun tradition for Gretchen and it's become a fun one for me as well. At this stage of the pandemic, it seemed prudent to wear facial coverings in public. Lack surgical masks, we decided to wear scarfs over our faces, as if we were holding up a bank. Norms have changed so swiftly that nobody would think anything of it. Gretchen also had disposable gloves to wear, but I totally forgot to put them on before I'd already hopelessly contaminated my hands with tiny spiky balls, assuming there were a few bouncing around. (As of today there have been ten deaths from coronavirus in Ulster County. Most of the cases are in the south and east of the county, with Kingston being one of the hot spots.)
A number of changes had been made in the Ghettoford since I'd last been there. At the door there was a sign telling shoppers not to bring their reusable bags, though we weren't going back to the car with the ones we carried. Many of the aisles had been made one-way, with arrows stenciled onto the floor showing the direction. There were also markings placed on the floor near the register to encourage people to stand at least six feet apart. I was pleased to see that sneeze guards had been installed at all the registers, but I was somewhat dismayed to see that not all the cashiers were wearing facial coverings. For me, you see, the presence or absence of some sort of mask is shorthand for how seriously this pandemic is being taken, and anyone without one seems more likely to have taken more risk with his or her health and thus be more likely to be a bearer of infection. As for the customers, about 80% of them were wearing masks. Those not wearing masks tended to be young, black, or both. I understand young people not wearing masks; they think of themselves as invincible. And I also understand black people resisting the wearing of masks: they already have enough trouble with people presuming them to be criminal without then adding an additional indicator of criminality.
Initially Gretchen and I shopped separately using different carts, as she'd been delayed in the parking lot placing our order to Yum Yum. We quickly got most of what we'd come for (including an absurd amount of tofu), but we couldn't find any matzoh in the store whatsoever. For the most part the store seemed well-stocked, that was until I passed near the napkins and paper aisle. It was almost completely empty.
At Yum Yum, all we had to do was park in front of the restaurant and place a call, and then one of the staff came out to quickly deliver a bag with all the things Gretchen had ordered. She was hungry and wanted to bust into it right away, but even though she'd had her hands in gloves, I was worried about cross-contamination in an environment as compromised as our car. Also, I had to piss like a race horse, so if I could wait to piss, she could wait until we were home.
As we dined on our Impossible Burger, Korean taco, and too-sweet peanut noodles, we tried watching the 1996 movie Kingpin. But it just wasn't very good, and when Gretchen wanted to give up on it somewhere in the scene set in Amish country, I agreed (though I'd been hating it pretty much from its beginning; I don't particularly like acting work of Woody Harrelson). Then we tried watching the wacky classic The Naked Gun, but Gretchen finds that kind of humor a lot funnier than I do.
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