I’m standing in line at the grocery store. My hands are full of products I don’t recognize but should be sufficient for the next couple days here. I place things on the conveyor belt, hoping the cashier doesn’t ask any questions. Of course, she does. I assume she’s asking if I want a bag and shake my head no. Thankfully, that seemed to answer her question.
The few items are rung up and she tells me the total. Again, I don’t understand a word. I glance quickly at the screen to see the total and I pull out a bill large enough to cover it. I have a pocket full of change but it’s going to take me forever to figure out which is what and I don’t want to hold up the line any further. I’ll end up leaving all the change at the hotel before I head home.
I head off into the street, checking my phone to confirm directions back to the hotel.
I’m standing in line at the grocery store. I’m six feet back, on a marked circle, but shifting forwards and backwards to let those moving from aisle to aisle get by.
My glasses fog up ever so slightly and then clear up. They fog up again and then clear. I start holding my breath so as not to have them fog up completely. Maybe if I breath through my nose. Maybe through my mouth?
I’ve grown up in cold winters, scarves wrapped around my head. I usually just take my glasses off. I do so again, careful not to get my hands close to my eyes. I’ll grab some hand sanitizer on the way out. I’ll wash my hands again when I get home.
“Let me spray and wipe down the belt first, sir.” Right. Old routines keep wanting to creep back in but I have to wait. I think to myself that I’ve read studies of how fomite-based virus transfer might not be a big concern. It’s all about the air. Who knows, said more as a statement than a question.
I stand to the side of the tall plexiglass barrier with my bag at the ready to quickly bag my own groceries. Cashiers aren’t allowed to do it themselves anymore.
I no longer leave my cart at the exit, allowing others entering the building to quickly grab my cart. The entrance is now fully separated from the exit, forcing specific lanes of traffic. I take my cart to the mid-lot receptacle to keep the lifecycle of collect-and-clean in check.
The bags are placed into the back of the car and I hop into the front. I carefully peel the mask from my face.
Everything feels surreal. Most things are the same but plenty of things are not. They’re just different enough to create a generalized anxiety. It’s not unusual for me to feel this anxiety when I’m travelling.
Now I feel it when I’m at home.