I hadn't entered a grocery store in over 12 months. I had perfectly planned out our needs to avoid actually shopping in person. We have a incredibly stocked pantry with backups so we would never run out. The grocery delivery was first class. That is until today.
I had planned a fabulous meal for dinner, Thai Lime Chicken with garlic jasmine rice. The grocery delivery was right on time. As I unpacked the groceries, I set aside the items I would need for dinner. I pulled two lemons out a bag and was about to chuck them into the fridge when I froze. Wait. I don’t remember ordering any lemons. I grabbed the remaining bags of groceries and started tossing out the contents. Sure enough there were no limes. Some cretin had sent me two lemons instead of limes.
I hadn’t been in a grocery store in over twelve months. I was fully prepared when the pandemic struck. A well stocked pantry with plenty of backups for our more popular non-perishable and frozen groceries. Meals were planned in advance. Everything was ordered through our first-class grocery delivery service. I was going to ride out this pandemic at home.
I did a slow burn. Was the person colour blind? How the fuck can you not tell the difference between green and yellow? Calm down, Willie. Maybe this person just moved from Siberia and has never seen citrus fruit before. Or maybe it’s someone with a “I don’t give a shit” attitude. I grabbed my phone to call the grocery store.
After a 22 minute, 14 second wait, a customer care rep answered, “Hello I’m Nancy. How I can assist your shopping experience?”
“Hello Nancy. I certainly hope you can help me. I just received my grocery deliver and the idiot who packed my order sent me two lemons instead of two limes.”
“I’m very sorry that you order was not fulfilled properly. If you provide me with the order number then I will be happy to credit you the two lemons.”
“I’m sorry Nancy that doesn’t solve my problem because I need the limes for my dinner tonight. You can’t make Thai Lime Chicken with lemons. Lemony Thai chicken is just going to be gross.”
“You can pick up limes at our store and I would happy to provide you with a ten dollar credit for the inconvenience you’ve experienced.”
“You know there’s a pandemic going around? You’ve heard of COVID I hope? I can’t risk walking into a store. So, why don’t you just have someone drop off a couple of limes at my house and we’ll be square. That’s what would improve my shopping experience.”
She pauses for a few seconds. “I wish it were that easy but we can’t deliver two limes today.”
“That’s just not acceptable. I was planning to make Thai Lime Chicken but apparently your incompetent store refuses to cooperate.”
“We are sorry you haven’t had a positive shopping experience. I have credited your account for the two lemons as well as an additional ten dollars. Is there anything else I can help you with/”
“You haven’t helped me at all!”
“Thank for your loyalty during these difficult time.” Then the line goes dead.
I stared at the two lemons sitting on the counter before picking them up and tossing them across the kitchen. I debated with myself whether to just abandon the idea of cooking and just order some food. No. I had planned Thai Lime Chicken and that’s what we were having tonight. I search for my car keys, grabbed a face mask, and headed out to drive to the store.
After parking the car, I put on my mask as well as a face shield and surgical gloves. I wasn’t taking any chances. When I got to the store entrance, I stopped and looked around. I spotted a young woman walking into the store.
“Excuse me,” I said. “I was wondering if you could help me?”
She stopped walking, her suspicious eyes fixed on me. “It depends.”
“I need two limes and I’ll pay you ten dollars if you could buy them for me.”
She looked at my protective gear and shook her head. “I’m in a hurry and beside it looks like you’ll be safe with all that shit. All you’re missing is a hazmat suit,” she said, bolting into the store.
After several more failed attempts at finding someone to shop for me, I cautiously entered the store. I picked up a hand cart and meticulously wiped it down with several sanitizing wipes. Once I was satisfied that it was safe to carry, I walked into the store before being stopped by a store employee.
“Sir, I’m going to have to take your temperature.”
“Sir, you are going to have to remove your shield for me to take your temperature.”
“There’s no way I’m taking this off inside the store.”
“I’m sorry but we are required to take the temperature of all customers before they can shop. I can’t do that with your shield on.”
Everyone who works for this story is always sorry but totally unhelpful. I slipped off the shield and held my breath. He took my temperature and waved me inside. Putting the mask on, I continued inside and headed to the produce section.
The store wasn’t busy, so avoiding people was a simple matter. Standing in front of the limes, I ripped off a produce bag from the roll below the display, But I couldn’t seem to open the bag with my gloves on. After a couple of frustrating minutes I threw away the bag and tossed two limes into my cart. I strolled down a one-way aisle toward the front of the store to checkout. But there was a woman pushing a cart in the aisle going in the wrong direction.
“Excuse me, but you’re going in the wrong direction,” I said, maintaining a six-foot distance from her.
“I’m sorry but you’re going to have to turn around and come down the aisle in the correct direction,” I insisted.
“No way. Go report me to Public Health.”
In frustration, I went back up the aisle and chose another one, making sure there wasn’t anyone impeding my route. When I reached the store front, I found an empty cash register and put the two limes on the conveyor belt. The cashier said something to me but I couldn’t make out what she had said because she wore a mask and stood behind a thick layer of plexiglass.
Then I noticed the shopper behind me was ignoring the six-foot rule and loading her groceries on the belt before I was done. I spun around and recognized her as the woman in the aisle.
“We meet again,” I said. “Do you have a problem with figuring out how far six feet are?”
“I just have a problem with assholes.”
“Can you get the manager?” I asked the cashier. “I would like to report this woman.”
The cashier rolled her eyes. “Sir, just pay the $1.99 and leave the store.”
I decided the quicker I get out of the store, the safer I would be. I swiped my debit card on the card reader and scrambled out of the store. Back in my car, I pulled off the gloves and doused my hands with hand sanitizer before heading home.
I’m in the kitchen chopping peppers for the dish when my wife arrived home.
“What are you doing?” she asked.
“I’m making dinner. Remember, we’re having Thai Lime Chicken. And wait until I tell you the day I had.”
“I picked up dinner. You are supposed to make dinner tomorrow.”