March 30, 2020 Covid
Each time we head to the supermarket, it becomes more weaponized: In the first week there were the plastic gloves. Then came the strips of duct tape on the ground, urging us to keep 1.5 meters away from each other. Today, the cash register had been outfitted with a clear screen of plastic to protect cashiers from people sneezing onto them as they pay for their weekly haul.
The people have changed, too. At first, everyone cautiously danced around you in the aisles. Now, people are visibly freaked out if you even walk into their direction. They wear home-stitched masks (looking strangely innocent with their colorful patterns) and Rocío witnessed someone shouting at a cashier in defiance of the new rule to use a shopping cart: “I don’t want to touch the handle!”. The nerves are clearly wearing thin.
As much as we try to act like normal, responsible citizens, our own weekly haul of groceries seems excessive. Part of the liberty that city life affords you is being able to go to the supermarket on a whim, and since I don’t have a bike I usually don’t carry that much stuff. Now, carrying the biggest shopping bag we have in the house, I drag home several kilos of groceries, surely looking like an anxious prepper.
With the reputation already ruined, we try and get toilet paper, which remains impossible to come by. They have posted a sign at the shop: “The supply of toilet paper in Germany is in no way in danger. Please act responsibly.”
We go home, stash away our groceries, start doing some work until suddenly, without warning, the grey sky opens up and snowflakes tumble down. Just two days ago I was cycling in 18 degree weather, today it snows, and Rocío, ever excited about the snow, runs out to the balcony to spend a few minutes sitting in the blistering cold, enveloped by snowflakes.