Survive the Supermarket with Social Distancing | Jase Graves

  • Wednesday, April 8, 2020 8:30am
  • Opinion

As we adjust our daily schedules to the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic, many families are suffering from acute boredom.

Students are suspending their homeschool teachers without pay for excessive grouchiness, children are traumatizing their pets by repeatedly dressing them in Superman and ballerina outfits, and adults are resorting to binge-watching Tiger King on Netflix­ — again. One necessary diversion from this “new normal” is a trip to the supermarket, which has transformed from a mundane activity into a full-contact version of Guy’s Grocery Games.

What follows are a few tips for shoppers hoping to survive this ordeal and make it home with enough supplies to avoid another day of gorging on Little Debbie products and then ordering Taco Bell.

First, parents of teenagers should resist sending them to do the grocery shopping. My wife and I made this mistake when we grew tired of all the chronically dramatic sighing and dispatched our two eldest daughters to Target for a few staple items. You can imagine how relieved we were when they arrived back home with a four-pack of canned Starbucks Double Shot Espresso, a family size bag of salt-and-vinegar potato chips, and three pints of Bluebell cookie dough ice cream. Thank goodness they remembered the essentials.

Before you leave on your shopping trip, it’s important to wear the proper attire. If you’re like me, you’ve been spending your entire shelter-in-place period sporting pants that feature a drawstring. Naturally, you’ll want to dress a bit more formally out in public, unless you’re planning to brave the hordes at Walmart — where pajamas are the norm and pants are optional. Also, be sure to wear something you can strip off immediately and disinfect upon your arrival home. Your spouse’s bathrobe or a full-body Chewbacca costume should do the trick.

Next, if you have delusions of finding the supermarket well-supplied with luxury items like bread or milk, put those fanciful thoughts aside. Instead, we all need to become acquainted with the wonderful world of semi-fresh produce, which always seems to be fully in stock. Sure, fruits and vegetables don’t have trans-fats, sodium nitrate, and all the other wonderful things we love about processed foods, but at least they lack flavor. And it’s high time that Americans start following the American government’s official dietary guidelines, which remind us to avoid ingesting anything that tastes good. So try to forget about your favorite bagels, and pretend that cauliflower is actually edible.

Finally, it’s important to practice good hygiene and social distancing while wistfully wandering through empty aisles that were packed with Ultra Soft Charmin, Lysol spray and ramen noodles back in the good ol’ days of late February. Patience is key as you wait in line for the complimentary hand sanitizer at the store’s entrance while the lady in front of you attempts to use it as a therapeutic body mask. Speaking of hand sanitizer, if you have trouble judging whether you’re at least six feet away from other shoppers, just remember that if you can smell their Purell, you’re too close. And you really have to put on the social brakes when you reach the liquor aisle and see all of your fellow homeschool faculty members.

When you arrive home to restock your pantry with whatever the grocery store had left, like unsalted peanut butter, the odd eggplant and other stuff you’ll only serve once you’ve devoured all of your houseplants, remember that past generations have survived much worse — like leisure suits and disco.

If we all stand together — at six feet apart — we can get through this, especially with some help from Little Debbie and Taco Bell.

Graves is an award-winning humor columnist from East Texas. His columns have been featured in Texas Escapes magazine, The Shreveport Times, The Longview News Journal, and The Kilgore News Herald. Contact Graves at

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