Shopping in a Covid-19 world

As I have stated many times, I don’t get political in this column. And I won’t start today. That said, this column addresses some topics that bleed into the realm of health and society, which somehow is now kinda politics. But I offer this initial disclaimer up because, should this be posted on any of the Facebook pages of the local newspapers my column is carried in, I vow I will not go in and read any comments because I believe newspaper comment sections are one of the top causes of high blood pressure in the country, and no one needs hypertension in their life.

That said, I’d like to talk about going to the grocery store in the new world we live in. Thus, some thoughts:

  • I wear a mask when I go to the grocery store. I get that there are some very strong opinions on both sides. I represent only one side: mine. I wear a mask. If you don’t, well, I’m not the mask police. If you don’t think I should wear a mask, well, OK. You’re also not the mask police. So let’s get our milk and dog food and move on.
  • I am not a fan of people in my personal space, and that is not because of a pandemic. This has been a theme of my life for decades. If I strategically position my cart where you cannot get within six feet of me, this is not because of COVID-19. Trust me, I was doing this years ago.
  • Stay. With. Your. Cart. Again, this is not something that is new with me, but with the new world we live in, it’s not too much to ask that, should you forget an item in the produce aisle, you take your cart with you to get it. If you leave your cart at the avocados and then jaunt off to get some lettuce 20 feet away, you’ve kinda occupied all the territory in between, and because I’m a pretty respectful guy, I patiently stand there waiting to get into that territory between you and the cart. And if you are a fellow shopper wearing a mask, my thought is, “Hey, you’re feeling kinda health conscious and probably doing that whole social distancing thing. So, yeah…”
  • Please be mindful of when you meet a fellow shopper you haven’t seen for a while and want to catch up. Personally, I am at the grocery store to get groceries, but I get that people can catch up with old friends on occasion. Great! But if you are catching up with someone while you are at the end of the aisle, blocking all passage out of said aisle, a little personal awareness (and maybe utilization of your peripheral vision) would help you realize someone is waiting to go to the next aisle.
  • If you are in stores where there are one-way aisles, could you be mindful of that? I mean, it’s not a whole lot to ask. Quite frankly, I kinda hope it stays that way. And if I get to the end of my shopping list and find that I have to lap down a different one-way aisle to loop back and get my item, I embrace it. A few extra steps in my day!
  • Lastly, let’s address carts. I am still not a fan of anyone leaving them in a parking spot, much less just casting them aside to drift on their own. And I have also advocated for, when you park, grabbing a stray one to bring inside with you. The grocery stores near me have done a great job at sanitizing carts that are ready for use, and I hope they continue doing that. I will continue to return my cart to the proper corral, but I have to say I am of late less reluctant to go gather a stray. Cart Warriors, you, too, have a pass on that.

Who knows how history will treat all of this pandemic and our responses. As I have said many times over the last few months, you will never be able to prove I was too cautious. But everyone has to make their own choices. That said, I do hope one of those choices is to continue to give me my personal space.

Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, you can e-mail him at or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.

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