Earlier today, NBC News said, “Over the past year of the pandemic, mass shootings have gone dormant.” It is horrifying to face the reality that it is more than likely that, post-pandemic, mass shootings will once again be a “normal” part of life in this country. And that the Republicans in the Senate will do nothing to pass legislation that would keep all of us safer.
A trip to Costco isn’t what it used to be
by Ruth Neuwald Falcon, Seattle, Washington
On Monday, I looked in my pantry. Then I looked at my schedule for the week and I thought, Wednesday would be a good day to go to Costco. It had been many months since I’d been there, but I’m vaccinated now and feeling my way back into “normal” behavior.
Then Tuesday happened, the second mass shooting to make the national headlines in a week, this one in a giant grocery store, and I wondered if a trip to Costco was such a good idea.
There was a time when I found tooling up and down Costco’s wide aisles, slowly filling my cart with this and that, to be an oddly calming, even slightly meditative experience. Strangely (and this may just be Seattle), no one ever seemed to be in a great hurry, not the shoppers nor the staff. While efficient, the clerks didn’t appear to be under pressure to perform perform perform. They seemed glad to be working there, friendly with each other and with their customers. I enjoyed checking out the food samples that affable people in hairnets gave away. There was one woman I grew rather fond of, Florence, though I know she had no idea I was a fan. She was older (maybe the age I am now? OMG) and encouraged one to nosh in a most grandmotherly way.
All of that changed, of course, with COVID. No more free food. No more slow-walking the aisles. No more chatting with strangers about various products or with checkout people about how our days were going. I remember the last time I was there before everything shut down a little more than a year ago. We didn’t know about social distancing then, and we weren’t wearing masks. But we were in a panic about toilet paper and cleaning supplies. I loaded my cart with essentials like Goji berries and dried cherries, oversize jars of almond butter (of course they were oversize—it’s Costco), cans of organic mushrooms and refried beans. There was no plain water left so I stocked up on coconut water. No TP either, but I was able to get paper towels and tissues. The line for the cash registers snaked up the central aisles and around to the side, all the way to the back of the store. People studiously avoided each other’s eyes, as if by not looking at each other we could prevent contagion.
I did go to Costco today, and I couldn’t wait to get out of there. No one seemed particularly happy to be there. No casual chit-chat at the registers. People shopping purposefully, faces masked, eyes still averted. But the masks offer only one kind of protection. As Don Lemon said last night, with each shooting, the odds for each of us get worse.