Grocery Store: Quarantine Edition

A trip to the grocery store isn’t what it used to be. — Jaiden Edelman

It was straight out of a dystopian flick. Masked shadows slid across the empty alleyways, bloodshot eyes visible to those brave enough to glance at them. Scurrying from place to place, they were careful not to approach one another, each intent on attaining food using whatever means necessary.

No, wait — it was just Cronig’s. I breathed a sigh of relief as I stepped through the automatic glass doors and into Grocery Store: Quarantine Edition. I was careful not to breathe heavily, of course, or a few menacing glares might be my welcoming gift.

Donning my state-required mask and gloves, I scanned the itemized list I held. My singular goal was to acquire the goods and escape without harm. Showtime.

The “Mission Impossible” theme song seemed to echo throughout the aisles as I darted from shelf to shelf, spending as little time in the store as possible. Dun-Dun-dundun, Dun-Dun-dundun, Dun-Dun-dundun. The music penetrated my soul, and as I approached the dairy aisle I couldn’t stop my body from moving to the beat, hips a swayin’, feet a poundin’, head a boppin’, and legs a groovin’. Dun-Dun-dundun, Dun-Dun-d: No milk… Huh? Dun-Dun-dundun, Dun-Dun-dun: Where’s the tofu? Hmm. Dun-Dun-dun: No matzah ball soup?! The Jewish section is always full. Shoot, I was really looking forward to eating that. The music suddenly left me and I surveyed the small crowd of bewildered onlookers. They were probably just jealous of my stellar dance moves.

More methodically now, for the sake of journalistic integrity, I assessed the damage that surrounded me. Most of my go-to snacks were gone, including my personal favorite: Raw acorns. Oh wait, no, you don’t buy those in grocery stores; I do remember my mom telling me that.

Speaking of my mother, she was not present, as only one family member was allowed in the store at a time. I decided to call her — she always has a backup plan.

“I don’t know who this is, and please stop calling me,” a voice said. Weird, I could have sworn my mom would know who I am by now.

Well, not particularly helpful, but now that I was free of parental guidance the choices were mine. Scouring the shelves, I was careful to follow the one-way directional arrows in the aisles. I kept getting distracted, however, by thoughts of the One Direction boy band for some reason.

After minutes upon minutes of searching, I found my saving grace: The candy aisle. Candy. This one basic food group has a calorie-to-weight ratio that stands head and shoulders above the rest, and it was this nourishment on which I stocked up. Chocolate, butterscotch, chocolate, jelly beans, gummy bears, and some chocolate; enough to last me at least a day. In order to keep the sweet/savory balance, I headed to the college food section and threw every variation of Ramen and EZ-cook pasta I could find. I might as well get used to college life as soon as possible, right? Plus I didn’t have time to cook. I had a very busy schedule of journalism to abide by.

Strangely, the rest of my family was upset by my food supply for the week. I mean who doesn’t like candy? Weird times I tell you.

Finally, there was only one stop left before making my exit: The paper aisle. No, it was the toiletry section. No, that wasn’t right either. I simply couldn’t find the toilet paper, and I made three thorough sweeps of the store. Swallowing my massive amount of pride, I asked a passerby where the elusive stationary was. “Gone,” was the cryptic reply I received. To this day I am still puzzling together what she could have possibly meant. As I stood embarrassed and confused in the aisle, I had to remind myself that not having toilet paper wasn’t the end of the world. The internet has plenty of gross alternatives to offer.

Making my way to the front of the establishment, I prepared myself for *shudder* checkout. The eerie silence sunk in, and the plexiglass walls between cashier and customer seemed to laugh at my half-checked-off shopping list.

I felt like a ninja as I stepped to and fro, attempting to keep a six-foot distance between every other person while still claiming my spot in line. After an eternity of tense people-avoiding, I reached the front of the line and began paying for all of my candy.

As I peered through the plastic wall into the eyes of the cashier, I wondered how they felt about spending the day in this dystopia. I could only conclude one thing: They must be extremely dedicated to humanity and must deeply value the persistence of society in the face of a global crisis. I realized I was looking at a genuinely good person. Suddenly I was thankful for all the workers putting their personal safety on the line in order to keep the world functioning; maybe people aren’t so bad after all. I was brought back to reality when someone asked me to stop holding up the line. With a flash of elegance, I fumbled around with my wallet and hastily paid with a card.

Wheeling my cart of sugar away towards the exit, the “Mission Impossible” theme song returned. As I passed through the sliding glass doors that marked a successful mission, I turned to face Cronig’s. Smiling, I took a well-deserved bow. I truly outdid myself with such an impressive performance. No pain, no gain, no problem.