I sit on my overstuffed couch
Scrolling on my iPhone
At not being able to get all the food
I ordered from that same couch
Two weeks ago.
She sits in her second hand Honda
Giving her phone to her toddler
Popping the trunk
Opening her door in the rain
Gathering two bags at a time
Making five trips
Leaving them on the covered porch
And, after ringing the doorbell
Swiftly getting back into her car.
I open the door
Dismayed that two bags had fallen over
And the cereal had gotten wet
I see her drive off with the toddler in the back
Eating a banana
And I wonder if that’s why I didn’t get bananas in my groceries.
This poem was written for Jamie Dedes’ Wednesday Writing Prompt from last week. She requested poems with a “focus on right versus wrong, life versus death, on living wages, guaranteed health-care for all, unemployment and labor rights. Dare we move beyond yearning to hope.” I love how her prompts usually involve some aspects of social commentary. I’m not sure if my poem above captures her request, but given our current environment, shopping – and in some cases, hoarding – can be an issue of life versus death.
I admit, I didn’t take the threat of this virus too seriously in the beginning so I didn’t engage in the toilet paper and anti-bacterial cleaner hoarding. I did go to Costco with a friend who encouraged me to at least get some extra food, extra medicines and a new flashlight and batteries. While we were there, I had to take my son to the bathroom and asked her to watch my cart. When I returned, she said that someone had asked her if they could take one of the packages of ramen noodles that I had since there weren’t any more on the shelves (my hubby eats ramen for a midnight snack every night). My good friend defended my right to have the last package of ramen noodles and sent this person on their way. I was in shock that someone would want to take food from someone else’s cart, and this was even before schools and other venues were closed, before the US federal government admitted that the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, was a serious health threat.
Now, after three weeks of shelter-in-place, I am glad for the extra food that I bought that day. But as I look in our freezer, I realized that I am running out of food. My friend (who I went to Costco with) had already placed an order from our local supermarket the week after we went to Costco and was having groceries delivered this week. She even laughs jokingly about hoarding paper goods, but I know she has more than enough toilet paper to last through summer.
I’m now looking at ordering groceries and having them delivered, and I feel guilt. I can stay safe in my house and have minimal risk of contracting the coronavirus while other people don’t have that ability or that choice. While my current living situation (which we worked hard to achieve) allows me that luxury, what about the people who will be delivering these groceries? What about the people who are working as cashiers at the supermarket? Who are stocking the shelves? Who are working in the warehouses? Who are trucking the supplies to put in the warehouses? Who are cleaning the stores once everyone leaves? Who are picking up the garbage from these stores? All these people who have to risk their lives, while I can sit in the safety and comfort of my home, waiting for the doorbell to ring.
(c) 2020 iido