My kids didn't have school yesterday. We were told Thursday evening that they wouldn't. It was a surprise to everyone, even the teachers, so they were sent home with their usual homework and no special assignments. Friday was supposed to be their only day off as the schools were cleaned and disinfected, but by dinner time it was announced that the children will not be going back to school until March 30th--two weeks from now!
I'll admit, I haven't been particularly bothered or obsessed over this. I honestly believed it wasn't going to make its way to our small town--why should it? People don't even want to come here, how would a virus make it? I hadn't considered the city commuters and the bus...the very same bus I used to take to work almost every day before I became a remote employee. Perhaps Kingston doesn't get many tourists, but with jobs as slim as they are around here we need to travel for work. To be clear, I don't really know who the first person was to get it here. I just heard they were coming from the city.
Anyway, now that the fear has hit Kingston, madness has ensued. Being the introvert that I am, staying home, away from people, and not going anywhere unless I need to is exactly the way I like to live my life. However, I was sick last week and was finally feeling better so I decided I needed to catch up on some laundry.
Also. My family was driving me crazy and I needed to get away from them for awhile.
We were low on detergent, my dog needed more food, and even though I typically stock up on a month's supply of TP, I wanted to see if I could find some tissues and wipes just so I wouldn't have to deal with the madness I was hearing about later when I had no options left.
So I went out to collect some items. Can I just say Ollie's is my favorite store ever? It is like the thrift store of superstores. You never know what you'll find, but there are some real treasures and the prices are awesome. Anyway, there I was able to get tissues, cleaners, my detergent, some non-perishable food items, and even a few fun things. There was more people there than usual, but other than that, checkout was smooth and everything was normal.
Then I went to Shoprite and had to finally face our new reality. I first noticed something was off when there was no meat left at the butcher. I typically do my shopping early in the morning after I have dropped everyone off and have time before work. So my first thought was, "I guess that's what happens this late in the day, they sell out." It didn't matter anyway, I was there for the salmon and there was still plenty of that.
Then I noticed the sheer volume of people whizzing back and forth around the store. I have never been in a supermarket that was so packed! As I searched the shelves for the few items I needed I saw whole sections completely wiped out. The anxious energy in the air was finally starting to set in. My happy little bubble was popped and I was forced to face the truth of what was happening. Everyone was going absolutely insane. I had to get out of there.
I took my 5 items and stood in a line of a dozen people with carts filled to the brim. If it weren't for my salmon I would have just left my cart right there and gone home but I could not let my Norwegian wild caught salmon go to waste. My millennial foodie side does not show her face often, but when she shows up, she means business. Plus I needed some reward for the social anxiety I was swallowing down, just from being around all of these people.
It took me nearly a half hour to checkout. I zoned out halfway through, willing my soul to leave my body for awhile and find some place more peaceful to rest. When I was finally free I rushed home as quickly as I safely could.
I know I was dumb to go out during the start of this and trust me, I will not be going anywhere else any time soon. I know this hysteria won't last. People always behave like this in these types of situations. I can't shake this nagging curiosity though. I wonder, how much of this is just a panic of the moment and how much will shape our lasting reality?