Pandemic grocery shopping

I mostly do my grocery shopping by grocery pick up- I shop online, then I park at the grocery store and they bring it out to me.  I prefer this to shopping with the Cherub at the best of times, and this the not the best of times (I don’t think it’s the worst, either, I think the worst is coming).

There’s only one store in my little town that does this and the shoppers… well. I once put ten lbs of whole chicken in my online shopping cart and the gal texted me back that they don’t have any ten lb chickens, the largest was only 2 or 3 pounds.  I explained I wanted enough whole chickens that it added up to around ten pounds (we were having a crowd that night and I was going to roast them all).

Last week, I thought I beat the curve by ordering from Walmart in the really large town nearby- it’s cheaper, I could go see one of my kids while there.  But between the time I placed my order and the time I scheduled pick-up, the schools were shut down, groups larger than 250 were asked not to meet (it’s now down to ten, I think and it’s only been a week), and all h, e, and double toothpicks broke loose.  I got a call my order would be late.  An hour after my order should have been finished I got a text that it was ready for pick up.  Two hours later I was still sitting in the parking lot.  I called and told them I had to go use a bathroom but wasn’t using their public bathroom, would I miss my pick up if I did that.  She asked if I’d be back by about half an hour from then, and I would, so she said it ws fine, just call and let an associate know when I got back.  Well, I tried.  Nobody answered the phone for about 40 minutes.  I ended up calling a different extension and asking for a manager.  The new managre said he had my name and knew my story (that I had a medically compromised offspring in the car with me), and my order was nearly reading, it would be done in five or ten minutes. Two hours later it wasn’t.  I called again and was first told grocery pick up staff had finished and all gone home. This was nuts because every one of the grocery pick up parking spots were full and had been for hours (12 of them). But I did not think of that, I panicked a little (we needed diapers. I can do without toilet paper, but not diapers for the Cherub). I tried not to lose it but I know I sounded shrill and desperate.  She started talking over me and explaining how busy they were and how short staffed and how much chaos was going on and how managers had stayed late to help – and I knew all of that and I was very sorry for them all, but I needed diapers, and that one manager had told me my order was almost ready.  I kept trying to tell her that, and she kept talking over me but I finally managed to catch her in a moment she stopped to breathe to tell her that yes, yes, yes, I totally did understand all of that and I was terribly sorry about it all but the thing was- I’d rather have been told my order wasn’t going to be ready until 2 a.m. then to be told it was going to be ready in five minutes when it wasn’t anywhere near that, and I wanted to know why I was told that.  She sent me to another manager, who was more helpful, more informed, and I think more honest.  She told me it was going to be at least another four hours. I asked her if I could just take whatever part of my order was complete (because everybody agreed my refrigerated items had all been put in a case hours and hours and hours ago, and especially  a package of the diapers my daughter wears because I desperately needed those.

She thought a moment and then asked me to tell her what size and brand diapers I needed and then she personally would go find them and bring them out to the car for me.  She brought out the last three packages (I’d actually wanted a case, which is what I always buy, but the cases were gone), and my small bags of refrigerated or frozen stuff (including a very sadly wilted and floppy napa valley cabbage that had obviously not been stored in a cool enough location).  She refused to accept any payment for them.

I went home.  I tried to cancel my order online multiple times but the system just would not let me do that.  Three days later somebody called to ask if I was coming in to pick it up that day and she wasn’t best pleased to hear that i was not driving 40 minutes one way on the highway in a snowstorm to get that order, but she agreed to cancel the rest.

I am sorry for them, and I don’t really blame anybody but the manager who promised me five minutes. It was awful for everybody.  But then, I still needed some of the groceries I hadn’t gotten.

So I placed the order with my more expensive little small town grocery store, omitting some things they either didn’t carry or charged way too much for (nearly 7 dollars for the same fish sauce that is 3 dollars at Walmart).  Again, nothing I wanted was really, really the kind of thing people were stocking up on (except rice and milk).  She texted me to tell me they had no gallons of whole milk but she could get me half a gallon of skim milk.  I said thanks, but no skim milk at all, I’d take a couple cans of evaporated milk instead.  I mainly wanted milk for making canned tomato soup because that with grilled cheese is comfort food.   By the time my order was done, it was still not showing what she’d subbed for the milk on my online order, but I went to town and picked it up.  I came home and put away the cold things and left the canned for later. This morning I discovered I have ten cans of evaporated milk, and just like that, I became a crazy hoarder.

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2 Comments

  1. Brenda
    Posted March 18, 2020 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    Is this the city that starts with L? I have an online order I am supposed to pick up tomorrow.I hope it goes better than this..I would love to have your recipe for tomato soup.

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