Since being laid-off on Thursday, I’ve been trying to figure out where to go from here. A part of that figuring will require that I hole-up for the next few days with Dorian in our apartment, since I don’t have to be anywhere until Tuesday morning.
In anticipation of a long, sequestered weekend of watching online TV shows, reading books and doing anything but actually working on a book of my own, because ‘procrastination’ is my favorite big word, I went downtown yesterday to run a few errands.
My first stop was at the bank where I withdrew a bunch of cash. I hoped the teller wouldn’t think I was making a run on the bank because I withdrew enough to run my errands, but I only did that because I’d had trouble with my bank card the day before.
I just wanted to be sure I was covered for the purchases I’d be making over the next couple of hours. So, withdrawing hordes of cash from the bank… Apocalyptic overtones. CHECK.
I even sprayed the cash with disinfectant and used a hand sanitizer.
Then I went for a haircut because my hair had gotten fairly long recently and I have some job interviews coming up.
Now I look clean-cut and respectable, which in San Francisco translates to, “WHY YES, I DO HAVE LOTS OF MONEY, SO STICK THOSE HANDS OUT AND PANHANDLE ME TO DEATH, PANHANDLERS, BECAUSE NOW I’M NELSON ROCKEFELLER AND I CAN AFFORD TO GIVE CASH TO EVERYONE I PASS ON THE STREET.”
For some reason, down and out street folk hardly ever ask me for cash when my hair is long and slightly unkempt. I guess they figure I’m unemployed and ergo broke, because who would hire a guy who looks like that? Obviously, I agree, because I went and got a haircut yesterday.
In an odd twist on that theme, drug dealers also try harder to get my attention and sell me heroin when I look ‘respectable.’ They call me “Buddy,” and they say things like, “I got the best stuff here, Buddy, ignore that guy, let’s go in the alley here and talk.”
I had no idea that some heroin is apparently better than the competition’s heroin. What, is it Kosher or something? Fresher? Was it free-ranged?
When I arrived downtown I cut through the big mall, Westfield, to get to the next block. I don’t shop at Westfield because that’s where you find stores like Bloomingdales, and again, I’M NOT NELSON ROCKEFELLER, so I just cut through the food court.
It was almost entirely deserted at 5:00 pm on a Friday afternoon.
Trader Joe’s (grocery store for the uninitiated), is the next block over and that’s where I was headed, and it was anything but deserted. Throngs of grocery shoppers with carts piled high, and bins like this…
Empty cooling bins at the Trader Joe’s on Market Street in San Francisco / Photo by DW Rhodes
I had stopped into the Walgreens on the corner while headed to Trader Joe’s with the intent of getting some paper towels and *COUGH* toilet paper (I KNOW, HAHA!) to find those shelves empty with the exception of a single 3-pack of paper towels, which I quickly snatched up.
The counter lady at Walgreens asked if I wanted to put my 3-pack of paper towels in a bag, but I declined and opted to carry them down Market Street in plain view, with the thought being that perhaps someone will offer me fifty bucks right on the spot for them, in which case I’d take it and then just wipe things on my pants for the next week.
Trader Joe’s had row after row of empty cooling bins and shelves as a huge line snaked through the store with all of the things that had been in those bins and shelves now piled about six feet high on nearly every grocery cart awaiting checkout.
To be clear, I WASN’T THERE TO HORDE ITEMS, SO HUSH. I intended to stock-up on enough to last two people a weekend and a day or two, which I’ve done many times before without encountering scenes like this…
A future omelette / Photo by DW Rhodes
Those were the only eggs they had in the entire dairy and egg case. I took a picture of it (obviously) and when I finally got to the check-out cashier, I showed her the pic on my phone and presented an idea…
“One of your managers needs to make a sign to post right on that cooler that says, ‘NEW ITEM: PRE-MADE OMELETTE! JUST POUR INTO PAN AND ADD CHEESE!’
She laughed at that, thank goodness, because she looked like she really didn’t want to be there given that mad crush of shoppers.
This was literally a BLACK FRIDAY experience with no Christmas in sight, just the possibility of death and despair, and instead of snatching up flat-screen TVs, gaming consoles and perfume, they were hording dry pasta (NONE LEFT AT ALL), canned goods (MOSTLY GONE), and yes, TOILET PAPER.
Just take a shower, I guess. Okay.
Fortunately, they had an abundance of cat food and wine, so I got double of those over what I normally get. TWO bottles of wine and about 30 cans of turkey and giblets pate for the kitties.
Seeing all that cat food on my cart, some lady quipped, “You should really leave some for someone else,” to which I replied, “Why, are you hungry?”
After I made my omelette joke to the cashier, I asked her if she thought the turkey and giblet cat food would pair well with the Argentine Merlot, and she had to think about that for a second or two.
I honestly think she would have gotten the joke right away, but with so many people clearing out the store and so many empty shelves I’m certain she thought I was seriously asking if that particular cat food would go well with that particular wine.
“Um, yes… I think so…”
This called for an emergency rescue, so I honked my big red nose, waved a rubber chicken at her while squirting her with a seltzer bottle I’d pulled out of my pants. “HEY, I WAS JUST KIDDING! OUR CATS DON’T DRINK WINE!”
I’m still not sure if that’s what she thought, or did she think we were going to eat the cat food. I dunno.
I made my way home on a city bus, being careful not to touch, look at, or breathe the same air as the other four people on the bus.
On a Friday afternoon at rush hour, there would normally be about 40 people sitting and standing all around me, but on Friday I had my choice of seats, yet still chose to stand because I didn’t want to have to disinfect my ass when I got home.
As I walked through the door, Dorian asked me how it went.
“Well honey, I made it. There are still factions of living beings running in packs and looting the almost empty grocery stores, but I managed to scrape together enough provisions to get us through a few days…
I was attacked by some of the undead, but I managed to put them down with a clean head-shot to each one. Remember, they’re dead already. I was only attacked by one survivor, an older lady who tried to steal my cat food, but I put her into a headlock and choked her out. She’ll be okay but she’s gonna wake-up with a terrific headache…
By the way, I was in pretty close proximity for each of those head-shots, do I have any blood splatter? I’m going to have to disinfect right away if that’s the case.”
Dorian looked me over and said, “I don’t see any, and I’m glad your outing was successful.” So I washed my hands for an hour and then made her a sandwich. I always try to reward her when I make a joke like that and she goes right along with it without flinching. Come June we’ll have been married for 30 years. I’ve made a HELLUVA LOT OF SANDWICHES.
Now we’re just in waiting mode. I have some job interview things coming up during the week, assuming I’m not coughing my lungs up and raging with fever by then. We’re taking each other’s temperatures and zinging serious looks at one another at the sound of the tiniest cough.
If we survive this, I swear I’m going to write a book about it one of these days.