I ventured out today, hunting and gathering for supplies and provisions. It was the first time I'd been out in the car since we were advised to stay at home and it was rather surreal.
I went early, about 9-ish. The streets were almost empty of cars, just a few of us trailing about on similar missions. Plenty of people out walking, young and old, bicycles too. The emptiness was eerie. I cannot describe it any other way. Eerie. Spooky. Other worldly. A post apocalyptic feel.
This continued at the grocery store, our local Pak 'n Save. Silence. People gathering, not speaking, collecting a trolley, given a hand sanitizing towelette from an employee to wipe down the handle, then standing in an orderly queue, winding through roped off areas to the store entrance. No one talking as we were all solo shoppers; no family groups; no couples; the occasional brief smile at someone. That's about it. Plenty of time to watch the shoppers coming out. One young man in black with a beanie, his trolley was full of boxes of beer, about five different brands; a lady came out with layers of eggs; another with the toilet paper that was once an item of demand, now plentiful, and a man loaded down with cleaning products.
Every few minutes they would allow more people into the store - about ten or so at a time - and we would all shuffle forward, maintaining a respectful distance. There was no sneezing or coughing (thank heavens), no nose-blowing, nothing like that. I'm not sure how well that would have gone over with those waiting to get inside and forage.
Once inside, silence apart from piped music (pretty rocky and jolly) and the occasional PA announcement, organising people at the check out. People moved about calmly but with purpose, selecting their items from careful lists, not much comparing and weighing up a decision, just taking and moving on, all the while keeping a distance as best we could, apologising if a trolley blocked the aisle for a moment, everyone courteous but intent.
I saw one person I knew, one of our local librarians. We had a brief conversation and it felt odd to talk in there, almost as if we were doing something prohibited, although this was not the case at all. We both said how much we missed the library and all the books, and then we moved on with a 'take care.'
All of the checkouts were open, very small lines, check out operators separated from us by a perspex shield, each checkout station separated by a perspex partition. All done in silence. Not the usual chatter from the operators, just focus, get this done, get people through.
All fine with me - and all credit to Pak 'n Save Silverdale for organising such an efficient and effective system for shoppers. It was stress free, clear directions, great precautions. These things are so important during times when people are in a state of high anxiety. Well done.
So I am home, loaded with cat food, of course, and plenty of stuff to keep me going for a while longer.
As soon as I had unpacked and sorted and sanitized, I had a much-needed cup of tea and a hot cross bun.
Make that two hot cross buns.