A Bunch of Strangers in a Grocery Store That Served as our Commonplace.


Pictured above is a deserted aisle within a dim grocery store. Photo credits to Creative Commons.

Elizabeth Newcomb, Editor In Chief

On April 26th, 2020 my mom asked me if I wanted to join her on a trip to the local Woodman’s. This was the most exciting news I had received in a long time. For the past month and a half, I had been prohibited from leaving the house to go anywhere except to a place with a drive-thru according to my mom’s rules. 

  I was thrilled that a change was being considered and that I could practice a simple task that I had once taken for granted again. The only condition to her allowance was that I had to wear a mask and promise not to touch anyone or anything. 

Simple enough, I knew deep down I could handle that. The journey commenced and twenty-five minutes later I found myself getting anxious as we pulled into the Woodman’s parking lot. I took several deep breaths, put my mask on, and mentally prepared myself for the encounter. 

I didn’t know what to expect, there could’ve been zombies in the store for all I knew. However, as soon as I approached the doors I felt a deep sense of insecurity. Part of me felt ugly because of the mask due to my previous diva nature and the other half of me felt completely naked. Was the whole world staring at me? 

Surely they weren’t; that’d be crazy. Deep down I knew that my feeling of vulnerability was merely just an idea I had planted into my head as I embarked on this precarious adventure. Based on my observations, the majority of people were also wearing masks and it eventually filled me with comfort. 

I wasn’t bare in front of anyone, because if I had been, then we all were. From this realization, I gained perspective. I comprehend a new complexity to this situation. None of us are alone, no matter how deeply we feel this pain and suffering. Each of the people that I observed in the store, we’re in the same boat.

They might’ve been afraid to walk through the Woodman’s doors, too. Previously, I hadn’t even considered that. Perhaps they also prepared themselves for an encounter with zombies or felt oddly visible just from shielding their faces. 

Nonetheless, here we were; a bunch of strangers in a grocery store that served as our commonplace. As I perused the aisles, I gained insight into the nature of society. I realized that nobody truly enjoys feeling uncomfortable and unfortunately, we are all very, very uncomfortable right now. 

I recognize that this pandemic is a terrible, excruciating pain for every individual. The losses of not only lives, but faith as well, is troubling. There is no avoiding that; it’s the truth. However, there is much to gain from this new way of life. 

We can all learn to act as a community and acquire the skill of empathy to a deeper extent than what we previously knew. We all can take the time to actually be patient with one another and give grace to our fellow individuals. 

Prior to the pandemic, I used to smile at people when I was shopping. In my core, I believe that a warm smile can reach even the coldest hearts and everyone is capable of doing it. If you were to bump into someone else’s cart, which I manage to do frequently thanks to my clumsiness, it would be no big deal. You could grin and apologize, then simply move forward with a fuzzy feeling of being recognized. 

As humans, we crave that interaction. We long to be seen, heard, and valued. As an individual, we owe that opportunity of recognition to our community. It’s the least we can do, and it’s also the best we can do right now.

Have you been shopping since the outbreak of COVID-19 occurred?

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