After 24 days, I finally made another trip to the dreaded grocery store. Yes, I take my social distancing very seriously. Frequent trips to the store mean frequent exposure, and that’s a nope for me.
I am still traumatized from the last time I went to the market: the day before confinement began. There were few customers when I’d arrived at the Franprix, but by the time I was ready to check out, it was trop de monde—crowded. No one was distancing, people brushed past, crammed up against each other in line. There was coughing and sneezing into the air—mon Dieu! It was mayhem.
Nope, I was not going back there until I absolutely had to.
I didn’t absolutely have to today, either. I still have plenty of everything, but there were certain very important things I’d run out of, like olive oil, bread, eggs, wine. And things that go crunch. It’s hard to imagine how much you crave crunchy vegetables until you don’t have them.
I’d been making a list all week of things that were running low. Then I organized the list based on the layout of the store: starting at the back for the heavy things like water and juice, then working my way toward the front for fruits and vegetables. It was all planned for the quick getaway—I, like a bank robber, complete with mask and latex gloves.
I wondered if I should skip the Franprix nearby where I’d had the horrific experience three weeks ago, and opt, instead, for the large, brand new Carrefour an avenue away. My local Franprix, unlike the Carrefour, still has no systems in place to create distance on line, or regulate how many customers are in the shop at one time. But when I passed by at 9:20 in the morning, it was empty. I seized the opportunity. The goal: get in and out in under 20 minutes, before the hoards.
Let the Games Begin!
As I entered, I whipped out my disinfectant wipes then grabbed a cart while wiping down the handle in one fluid motion. Then, list in hand, I took off through that market like a contestant on Supermarket Sweep—wine aisle, bread aisle, breakfast foods, dairy, snacks, meats, canned goods, spice aisle—the wheels of my cart screeching as I rounded the corners, products flying into my cart. Go! Go! Go!
I made it to the fruits and vegetables in under 7 minutes. A new record. I grabbed some oranges, bagged lettuce, celery, tomatoes, and beelined to the scale to weigh everything. I could see the cashier waving me in. Go! Go! Go!
That’s when she appeared.
I don’t know where the little old lady came from. I hadn’t seen her as I swooped through the aisles, but there she was, at the scale, taking her sweet time. She poke, poke, poked at the menu on the screen. Stared at it. She tried again, lifting the bag of fruit from the scale, putting it back on the scale. Poke, poke, poke. Then she weighed another bag of produce. Lifted it out, tied the handles up ever so carefully. Put it in her shopping basket. Then the next bag. Weighed it. Tied up those handles in a careful knot. Put that bag back in her basket. And the next bag. The next bag. The next. Poke. Poke. Poke-poke. Poke.
It took Madame Slow Poke as long to weigh her produce as it did for me to shop the entire store. At one point, she even grabbed a few more items, which were nearby—pears, I think—bagged and weighed those. Totally oblivious that I was standing right there—albeit 6 feet away—waiting.
Foiled by fruit.
During the time I was waiting, more people entered the store—exactly what I was trying to avoid. I needed to get to the cashier before a line formed, my mind flashing on that unruly crowd from three weeks ago. But what could I do? I couldn’t harass a sweet little old lady—who, by the way, eats a lot of fruit.
The cashier called to me again. I held up my produce. “Gotta weigh these.”
Madame Slow Poke turned to me, her eyes showing vague recognition as though I were materializing before her. What is this life form who also exists in my world? Why yes, madame, you are not alone.
“I can weigh those for you,” the cashier called out to me. “Come.”
Yes! The prize could still be mine. I dashed to the available cashier, who rang me up, and even arranged delivery for my surprisingly overloaded cart. (I might have wandered a bit from my list.) I exited the store just as a line was starting to form at the cashier. Victory!
I was nearly all the way home when I realized I hadn’t printed out my mandatory Attestation de Déplacement form that authorized me to leave the house.
Get caught up on my diary, here.
Tip of the day
Plan your menu for at least two weeks so you don’t have to go to the store frequently. Survey your cleaning and personal care items and make sure you have enough. How creative can you be with leftovers? What can you go without? How can you multipurpose things in your cupboard? Make it a contest to see how long you can go with you have. I went 24 days without going to the store. Can you beat my record? I challenge you.
Grocery shopping challenges here in Canada too. Go to first store that opens at 7 a.m. Get there at 7:15. Long line up (80 people?). They only let in a few at a time. Decide, no, go to another store. They don’t open until 8. I wait. Get in line early. Still, some people who come in obviously haven’t read the memo. Get out as quickly as possible, gloves in the garbage and head home.
Wow, 80 people at 7am? Where do you live?
I did the same thing the last time I went to the grocery store here in eastern North Carolina. I wrote down the items that I needed and numbered them in the order I would encounter them in the grocery store so as to avoid as many people as possible. Our governor is getting stricter about requiring large stores to use social distancing but still, aisles can be crowded.
Oh, thank goodness I’m not alone in my OCD strategizing.
I haven’t been to any stores including grocery and pharmacies since 3/13 or a month. I had a little challenge for myself how long I can go without going in. So I’ve done delivery, lots and lots of it…. so far so good. One thing that’s impossible to find online is all purpose flour. So they substituted that with cassava flour. I had to google what this was!
I’m going to continue not going, a) because I don’t want to catch anything, b) from what I hear it’s become an unpleasant experience.
I’ll see how long this will last, but for now it seems to work.
Are you here in France? I can’t get any delivery here in Paris. That is to say, I can order it, but good luck getting a time slot. Yes no flour and yeast. But why on earth are people baking when we have the best bakeries on the planet and they are open?
I’m near Los Angeles. I’ve also had my share of no time slots. I’ve tried multiple groceries. Eventually I get lucky…..It’s really a game of hit or miss, frustration. And patience. But last time I finished putting stuff in my cart, it gave me a delivery slot of same day! Euphoria!
You’re right, if I were in France, I’d never bake. Jamais!
Great story. Made me 😂
So glad! That was the intention. Maybe I’ll reserve one day a week for something funny. Funny Fridays? We’ll see.
I am not nearly so resourceful. Honestly, if I don’t get out of the house, I’m afraid I might hurt something. Or someone. I did the usually scurrying to pick up what I needed for Passover–I’m very weird about Passover–and did some cooking Tuesday and some Wednesday.
I made one new recipe and it required chicken fat. I didn’t see it, so didn’t buy it and I wasn’t going back out. Made my chicken soup and, after sitting overnight in the fridge, there was enough fat congealed on the top to use in the recipe. I’m feeling very resourceful. I repurposed the fat, rather than disposing of it.
Can you repurpose some of my fat? I’d be happy to donate about 10 pounds. 😂
Maybe the sweet little old lady is the “Designated Shopper” for her fruit eating friends!
Yes, it’s possible! The French, especially the older generation, eat very healthy and love fresh fruits and vegetables. She put me to shame!
How in the world were you able to get by for 21 days without shopping for groceries? In one of your earlier blogs I saw pics of your teeny-tiny kitchen and your teeny-tiny frigo. How did you store enough for that duration?
See my comment to Gary. Also, there is a tall and tidy stack of stuff in the corner of my teeny-tiny kitchen.
I’m curious how you were able to get by for 21 days without grocery shopping. What are your secrets.
My plan has 3 key elements: planning, conserving, and buying things that can be stored for a long time, including dairy and juice that only needs to be refrigerated after opening. I also go without instead of shopping on a whim. If I run out of meat, I eat veg. If I run out of fresh food, I used canned. Basically, I do like my parents did—plan, stock up, use everything.