Awake early due to anxiety about the need for a big shop today. I have been dreading this for some time, as my local supermarket is quite compact at the best of times and with underlying health conditions and the lock down I have been social distancing. Unfortunately even though the local fruit and veg and meat deliveries are happening I still needed to get some essential items and vital medications, and the local supermarket has a pharmacy that I collect this from. There is a dedicated hour for healthcare workers and whilst I could have taken advantage of this I did not feel safe to do so as they are the high risk staff that I am not safe to come into contact with. On an early morning walk past the supermarket the healthcare workers were showing badges and walked straight in. The poor elderly were queuing outside 45 minutes ahead of their allotted time slot. I have written to the CEO of the supermarket about my concerns about the ordering of these priority slots as the vulnerable should not be following healthcare workers, some of whom are in their uniform. Having taught infection control and worked as an infection control nurse for many years, I know this is not safe due to the cross contamination from uniforms to others and the environment. A healthcare uniform is not a badge of honour and has no place in a supermarket.
So, attending at mid morning I approached the entrance with slight trepidation about what to expect and how busy/safe it would be. Standing at the barrier I waited with a trolley and then realised that the queue was actually on the other side of the building meaning you had to cut across the line of people to join it. The queue was snaking all around in a square to start off with, some people in blue vinyl gloves, some in latex, some in leather (sounds like a kinky movie), which made me chuckle slightly. I felt guilty looking across the line behind me to see a poor older lady and wanted to let her go first. After about 60 people and 20 minutes I was in and picked up the self scanner. So began a most bizarre shopping experience, in the main quite silent, scared faces, people seemingly wanting to be in, out as fast as possible but having to quietly and patiently wait in a snaking line up and down the aisles. At many points there was a bottleneck and 3 people ended up side by side and despite squashing into the baked beans you were definitely not 2 metres away.
Standing at the chemist section with its perspex glass, I mused on the odd eeriness of it all, the man made masks of all manner of shapes/sizes and materials, thinking this is my white picket fence locality where I never thought I would see this. Silent shuffling, abiding by the foot placed marker stickers towards the counter. I was relieved to pick up my medication, had a joke with the staff and for a few minutes it seemed normal until I turned back round to see the pinched worn faces behind me. I was careful not to over shop, but bought large packs of things to prevent me having to repeat this experience in the near future. After an hour I was back out in the fresh air, relieved, thanked the staff who seemed distracted on their mobile phones, cleaning the trolley handles with the same bit of cloth over and over. Grateful for all of the people who helped me to get everything I needed on my list and am now back in my bubble. Blessed be the fruit!