Quarantine Day 24: The Mea Culpa of Grocery Day

This morning I finally decided to do what I’d been dreading for over a week, take that dire trip to the grocery store; into that epicenter of contagion. My intent was to get there as soon as they opened thereby avoiding anyone and everyone who would be viewed as suspect. Unfortunately, it’s been over a week since I’ve needed my wallet, which gave that rascal more than ample time to hide. In what become an early morning family Easter egg hunt, we finally located the golden prize hidden in the pocket of my backpack that had been stowed away in the pickup. Turns out I put it there when Nick and I went dirt bike riding last week in case we encountered COVID police on the wilderness trails demanding to see our papers.

By the time that pesky wallet had been found, it was so late I decided to abandon my planned venture into the viral enemy encampment. However, I was compelled to reconsider after a restless mob amassed in the kitchen demanding fresh supplies. I arrived at the store disappointed to find the parking lot fuller than expected, now I worried I’d now have to wait my turn to be allowed inside. Fortunately, the cars were merely decoys because once inside there was hardly anyone shopping. It quickly became obvious though that amongst my small cohort, I was the odd ball shopper. In fact it became so obvious that even I realized I’d become “that guy,” you know, the one prancing up and down the aisles without proper face protection.

I ran into my buddy Mark near the reduced meat display. We chatted about life devoid of work and lamented not being able to get together with the rest of the guys for poker. Turns out Mark and I had the same afternoon ambition, a long hike in deference to the Governor’s crack down in order to escape all the craziness. With shame and embarrassment my mea culpa moment came when he noticed my cart topped with bags of Cool Ranch Doritos, cinnamon bagel chips, Oreos, and boxes of something called Mike & Ikes. The only defense I have is that this is what happens when you tell teenagers that we’re all in this quarantine together and everyone can add items to the shopping list.

Rather than offer Mark an explanation, I simply acknowledged we’d move off of healthy eating in lieu of comfort food. He probably wouldn’t have believed me, but craftily camouflaged under boxes of CheezeIts, bags of Spicy Hot Cheetos, and tubes of Pringles, was an array of fresh fruits and vegetable rich in zinc and quercetin that were probably going to get eaten before receding into that dark part of the refrigerator where produced gets processed into dark soupy liquids.

One could certainly argue about the wisdom of letting teenagers contribute to the family shopping list, but as anyone whose ever been in politics or in a leadership position can attest, in difficult times unfortunate things have to be done in order to keep one’s poll numbers up.

A Problem with Produce: I read with keen interest last month that Mexico closed it’s northern border to prevent infected citizens from returning home. While the irony of Mexican leaders adopting the Trump Doctrine evades description, it has tragically left undocumented folks residing in the US without a country. We all need to remember that while migrants may not be American’s, they are our fellow New Mexicans. Our hearts and sympathies should go out to all the hard working family loving migrants who find themselves stuck in a bizarre COVID no-man’s-land. While we coast through quarantine, we should pause to appreciate the extra stress and struggle they endure. These are men and women who have become essential threads in the fabric of New Mexico culture and society who now find themselves without access to income, access to healthcare, and access to a way home.

In last few days I’ve been hearing about an unintended COVID consequence in our food supply; namely, a lack of field works to harvest produce that must be picked by hand. Protecting our food supply is crucial and so one has to wonder if it’s only a matter of time before we deploy military personnel to our produce fields or conscript COVID survivors to help with harvests? These are indeed strange times.


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