Saturday, April 18, 2020

Wait in line at Costco for you? I'm in!

HOWDY PILGRIMS: Grocery stores like Lobaw's and Costco are brick-and-mortar shrines
 to the miracle that is the supply chain.
We're just back from a Saturday trip to Costco and man was it fun!  

For starters, we didn't have much else to do with our morning. We could have stayed at home and watched the news to be reminded of how nasty things are out there, but that'll keep. 

Costco was a welcome diversion and did not disappoint. Sunny out, no wind, and above-zero temperatures. I really do need any exercise, however minimal.

The single down side? We only got to spend a measly 90 minutes with the young couple in front of us in line. 

They were all shades  of interesting.

She, Marianna (I've changed her name) just last week won her Permanent Resident status in Canada and was still beaming about it. She's from Kazakhstan, and her mom, 60, and dad, 62, are still there and guess what: They're in the self-same situation as us. Standing away from other people lined up for food.  

Marianna and I joked that it would seem like old-home week to them because her folks are old enough to remember the bad old days before Perestroika, when U.S.S.R-ians were forced to line up for every thing, all the time; and often by the time they got to the end of the line the shelves were empty.  Not quite like queuing up at Costco where the shelves are still jammed with as much food as any civilization could imagine.

(I must add that while we talked we maintained the two-metre separation. If you can't hold a decent conversation at six feet, you're not trying.)

Marianna works for an investment house and she says the wildly fluctuating stock market's keeping her busy 12 hours a day. She, like me, works from home and, like me, misses her office and co-workers something awful but at least we're working.

Carlos is from Chile and he, too, says the family back home's also keeping six feet apart and lining up at the grocery store. "Except for those Pinochet years," Carlos said, "Chile has never had those Soviet Union lineup problems. 

This was his first time in the Costco lineup, though he said he drives by it every day en route to work. 

So I asked, "what do you do that makes you essential?"

He and his brother repair roofs. On that issue, here's Carlos: "People's roofs still leak, even in a quarantine." 

She asked what I did for a living. "This," I said. "I ask people questions." 

I told Carlos and Marianna that I get all optimistic talking to people like them because hard working, smart, considerate newcomers like them are the future of this country; and not only because they laughed at my jokes. 

Something just occurred to me. 

THAT REMINDS ME: The price of gas has never
been lower!
Because we're all staying at home so much more, we don't do as much stuff. We don't have as many disagreements to complain of or victories to brag about. I'm talking victories like getting all the greens on our drive downtown. Or finding a great parking spot. 

We have far fewer encounters with, say, uppity ticket takers and/or bored sales clerks; way less run-ins with strangers; and because we don't drive, there's no near-misses in traffic though my brother Eddie says a near-miss is really a hit because a near-hit would be a miss. But I digress. You know what I mean. 

Every office has at least two people who incessantly talk traffic.

Not any more.

Because we're doing and seeing less stuff, we're all probably bored-er than ever.

All the more reason to visit Costco.  

Not only do you get to meet fascinating people from around the world, you get to compare the latest in protective face mask styles and now I'm wondering whatever happened to those two old WWII gas masks we had in the house we grew up in. Not only that but why did we have them in the first place? There I go digressing again.

Anyway, an hour ago, just before I decided to write this, my daughter Ria phoned from Ottawa and asked how the trip to Costco went, I reported thusly:

"It was fantastic! 

"You should see all the food they have on sale there!  Everything you ever could want and more. 

"Ria get this. Your mother and I now have more food than we need! Imagine! And we still have money left over. How lucky can a family be!"  (Ria's used to this but she also knows I'm not b.s.'ing.)
SAY CHEESE: Winner of the No(baby)bel prize for snackfoods 

How Costcos and Loblaws remain stocked with all those pre-cooked chickens and boxes of clumping cat litter and colourful dish and laundry soaps and breads and and pizza pies and giant special occasion cakes and multi-coloured marzipan cookies and Babybel Original Cheese and everything else no civilization ever in history could have even dreamt of, remains a Lourdesian-scale miracle to me. 

Not only was I lucky enough to be born during this time in history, I am so fortunate that somebody went and invented Zoom and Microsoft Teams and all those other social media things, just in time for this this furshlugginer quarantine!

Twenty-four-seven I remain acutely aware of the fact that a certain bunch of my forebears got to Canada aboard a typhoid-ridden ship. My great-great-great (ish)  grandmother somebody Kelly left Ireland with three more kids than she arrived in Toronto with because that's how many succumbed to typhoid on the trip over. Being stuck at home with Netflix is pretty stinkin' luxurious.

With that, 3 tips before you head out to Costco.

1. Eat before you go.You already know you shouldn't go for groceries when you're hungry. But Costco doesn't have any of those great little snack tables these days. Just a heads-up.

2. Don't be in a hurry. Then again if you're an always-in-a-rush sort, you'd never have made it this far with my blog.

3. Keep your distance but please talk to strangers. They're more bored than they've ever been and will welcome the diversion. Like you just did.

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