A friend asks me on the phone, “So how is your self-quarantine doing? ”
I reflect a moment and tell him, “Even before the current insanity my whole life was pretty much a self-quarantine.”
As a result, this extension of my default lifestyle has only required a few changes to my otherwise mundane and isolated day to day.
These days I rise and try to figure out when I’ll go out for a solo perambulation either in the apartment complex or along the bike path to get in the 5,000 steps a day regimen I use to keep my numb feet working. The where and when depend upon the weather. I once defaulted to the Chico Mall but that’s closed tighter than King Tut’s tomb. Now when it’s wet I head for the nearest large (essential) box store and do laps with a cart.
If I have any room at all left in my refrigerator/freezer/kitchen cabinets/under the bed I also try to shop during the new geezer hours at the local supermarket. (From 6 to 9 at Safeway if you are over 65.)
To do a walk or shop I have to plan my exits and entrances accordingly and suit up. My KungFlu costume has evolved and it is currently made of one plague resistant glove on my right hand, one disinfectant soaked washcloth in a ziplock plastic bag in the left jacket pocket to disinfect my ungloved hand should I touch anything of “dubious” provenance (every day more dubious items appear and the two glove days are coming soon.). Then I spray a folded paper towel with disinfectant to slide down the handrail on the stairs I share with my still unknown upstairs neighbor (Here nine months and haven’t seen her once.). I place folding money and a debit card (after disinfecting) in my front pocket so I don’t have to fiddle with the wallet.
Then, over all that, I put on the full armor of God and go outside to pretend to shop but really to monitor my town and how it is evolving in the face of the present insanity. I get into the car (please no repair requirements just now thank you ) where I have another bottle of Windex Gold Special Disinfectant spray to disinfect as I go. It works well and has no ammonia so I can spray liberally about the interior. In doing so I decide that “Windex Gold” is going to be my new aftershave. (Not bad. Sort of lemony with a hint of plague-freaked geezer.)
So far. So good.
Chico is a town of about 100,000 (up 20,000 since the Paradise fires a year and a quarter ago.). It is now haunted in the downtown sections since those are populated primarily by college students and they have long ago evaporated. Essential services such as gasoline stations, grocery stores, materials outlets, waste, and delivery are all up and running and holding well. Doctors are on an as needed (Call us first. Don’t just drop in with a cough, thank you.) basis but scant if not “essential.”
Dentists are utterly closed here. I find this out when I stop by the office of the Dentist I had scheduled drastic surgery with last month to find his office closed with a “Nothing Doing” sign on the door. But as I read it I notice my dentist inside at the front desk. I knock on the door and we have a conversation without either one of us wanting to open the door and have it face to face. I ask him if there are any “emergency” dental services available. He tells me that local dentists are working trying to find a way forward but it is still early days. So it goes with the “elective” services.
As far as the “essential” services are concerned these are all up, holding well, and fully staffed.
Everywhere in these stores, the staff that shows up and works pretty much non-stop is now widely known to be the heroes of Chico. neither I nor others are shy about saying so to their face and loudly. Said it yesterday at the Raleys deli counter and at least seven other (socially distanced) shoppers burst into applause.
Sometimes my daily hunting and reconnoitering expeditions bear strange fruit. Last Saturday after the open-air Farmers’ Market, I stopped by one of the three town Safeway stores to see what few items I just might need in the way of fresh chicken or meat. No problem there was plenty to choose from even though it was after twelve. I picked up some pork chops and turned into the most desolate and empty aisle of the market — the paper products. Suddenly, there it was. My WHITE WHALE! All alone in the vast and echoing brown shelf desolation. An iceberg of a catch. A snowy summit out of the fog. A really large hump blooming out of storm-tossed shelving. All alone as if waiting for my disinfectant dripping fingers to harpoon and take back to my try-works for slow but certain rendering into a mere cardboard cylinder. I struck without mercy and I scored!
SUPER-MEGA! 8=48! BIGGER & TALLER! ULTRA-SOFT! 6 ROLLS IN 1! GUARANTEED TO FIT. (FIT WHAT?)
What can I say? Somedays you flush the paper. Somedays the paper flushes you. Right now I figure to be sitting pretty when I quit winners.