NYC Journal Monday 4/6/2020 – Running out of vegetables in your third week of quarantine
Have you tried to order groceries?
I spent almost an hour a week ago on Fresh Direct. Getting everything just right. Picturing the meals in my mind. Accepting out of stock items with equanimity, even enjoying adapting to the restrictions. Making sudden and surprising culinary revisions. I got everything loaded up in the virtual cart. I marveled at the genius of the info age and the dynamism of capitalism, meeting changing needs with an almost magical speed and efficiency.
At the end I had to pick the delivery date and time. Every day and every slot for the entire week sold-out. Didn’t seem to be another week possible. And that was that. None of these groceries could actually be delivered.
I was defeated for a day or so. I wrung my hands about running out of frozen peas and thus living without vegetables, which couldn’t be sensible for a recuperator! But then I thought, “look! There must be some company in my neighborhood delivering. They won’t have every slot sold out. You need to stop being so invested in this elitist globalism, demanding the best French wine, German cabbages, Nepalese apples in yakmilk tea, dandelions from the yard next to the Green yard in Peoria, and so on. You need to think local; you need to act local; you need to buy local.”
So I googled (which I guess involved some nonlocality, but I did it real quick, and while mostly looking away from the screen) and saw a grocery store that delivered and that was not only in my neighborhood, but even had my neighborhood’s name inside its name! That’s how deeply it sought to imbed itself in my neighborhood. And so then the same thing, the same thrills, the same mentally sketching healthy whole non-pea-based meals as I shrugged off the occasional supply disappointment.
The first step of the shopping spree was to put in my name, contact info, and address. Then I picked the delivery option. Then I spent thirty minutes choosing, considering, weighing, debating, getting everything just so. Then I finalized the purchase. Then I was told that they didn’t deliver to my address, and would I like to switch my order to pick up? I’d put that address in forty minutes ago!!!
There was no place to explain that I wasn’t allowed to leave my apartment, that while Sunday’s Teledoc didn’t seem too worried about my health, he was very concerned that I keep my lingering cough confined to my apartment. The choices were only, “Yes, I’ll come pick up the groceries” or “Forget it”. I picked “Forget it”, but it did not tell the whole story.
I thought maybe Whole Foods. I noticed that if you have Amazon Prime — even if getting the trial had been an accident and then you forgot to quit in time and that’s why you still have it — you get special Whole Foods delivery perks. So I signed in with Amazon. “Delivery temporarily sold out”. And then something about how they’ll post updates as appropriate. So. Need to cancel that Prime. The problem is, you try to tell them you don’t want to be automatically reupped, and there doesn’t seem to be an option for that; instead they tell you how you’ll lose Prime forever, or they could just remind you a couple days before this month is up, and then of course if you want to quit, you’re welcome to. That way you don’t waste the month you’ve already paid for. But then you miss the email they sent. Google didn’t classify it as Primary, and well, uh.
The saddest thing is a man working 9-5 from his lonely apartment feeling strong in the morning and then stressing himself out and so by 3pm feeling his lungs go soft and the cough coming back. All because he can’t relax. All because he snarls at some poor coworker who is out there in the world, risking his health for their essential work, work that the crab apple is quite literally (e)mailing in.
I don’t know if you ever look out your window and see a health care center in red brick with only one large barred window on the ground floor. If you look out and catch a 60ish black man with a slight spread lumping his bright red sweatshirt and navy blue sweatpants with big side-pockets. If you look out and catch him put one hand lightly on the railing halfway up the wheelchair ramp. If you see him, both arms out, one hand bent up to avoid the wall, the other hovering over the round steel railing. If you notice him do a little side step shuffle for five or six beats. And then glance around to see if perhaps someone saw his performance; and, not seeing you, who are far back from a window he probably didn’t even scan, continues his walk up the ramp in the knowledge that his dance will remain a secret.
And now you honestly can’t recall whether or not he wore a mask. Surely he did. And surely this picture of health young man is running without a mask and with his T-shirt tucked into his long boxy running shorts. Surely he runs smooth, showing pale muscles in a broad back and developed chest. There’s actually a lot of people running. Here comes a young woman with oval wire glasses, a long sleeved shirt, very short shorts, pale legs, a single blond braid whipping back and forth in sync with her pigeon-toed stride.
Author: Johnny Onnda Spott
Editor Team: BW/AW
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