Like many Americans, I am doing my part to ensure safety for all during this Coronavirus crisis. With more than 30 years of experience as a registered nurse, I took my fair share of infection control courses and retained that knowledge for many years. I’ve taught my family the importance of shoe removal at the door, followed by spraying said shoes with either Lysol or a 1:10 bleach solution to kill pathogens. I’ve been diligent about washing my hands, not touching my face, covering a sneeze or a cough and staying out of the stores and the general public as much as possible. Because of my immune compromised status, I make it a point to only go out if necessary. This is for my own safety, as well as for everyone else’s, my family included.
Today, however, was the most surreal experience I think I’ve had to date.
My daughter, who enjoys trips to the grocery store, asked me if I would accompany her to Best Market in Syosset. She wasn’t interested in a trip to Trader Joe’s or Shoprite, mostly because of lines and the inability to adhere to a 6’ distance from the next person. Her concern for me is great, so we opted to try Best Market. It’s usually one of the least populated stores in the area. Usually.
Several weeks ago, Hubby and I took a trip to Best Market. There wasn’t a spot to be found in the lot. The usually sleepy store was now saturated with people, which meant that lines would be longer and tempers would be shorter. We breezed through the store as best we could, found a checkout line and managed to get in and out within 45 minutes. It wasn’t awful, but it was 45 minutes longer than I might have liked.
This morning, I headed into the lot of Best, only to hear my daughter moan, “Oh, no” as I parked the vehicle. I glanced to the entrance, only to see a line of about 10 people. Daughter jumped out of the car, donned a pair of gloves and an old mask I had in my nurse’s kit from years ago and ran up to find out what was going on.
Because of Governor Cuomo’s sound advice about social distancing, the LIDL corporation decided it best to only allow a small number of patrons into the store at a time. For every person who exited, another was allowed into the building. A table sat beside the store associate with germicidal wipes and cleaning solution for patrons to use to wipe down carts. Inside the store, associates patroled the aisles to ensure that everyone maintained a six-foot distance from the next person. The process was controlled and orderly, and my daughter and I were able to find everything we needed for our regular weekly food shop.
The most surreal part of it was the quiet. Not a word was spoken by any patron. Traffic was light on Jericho Turnpike, which lent to the stillness. It felt peaceful, truly, but it was also creepy as heck. It’s a necessary evil, and I must admit that Best Market made the entire experience move as smoothly as a well-oiled machine.
I commended the sales associates who worked today, because they are on the front lines to help us all. Our heroes aren’t celebrities or sports figures. Our heroes are our delivery people who bring food to the supermarkets. Heroes like your cashier or stock personnel in groceries and pharmacies. Real heroes who work 12-plus hour shifts, like your doctors, nurses, and ancillary staff in hospitals. The person who just handed you a coffee at Dunkin’ or Starbucks. The woman who took your money at 7-11 so you could grab a quick quart of milk for your children. The news personnel who carry a story or an update about this crisis to your newspapers and television screens. These are the heroes on the front lines of this crisis. The very next time you’re in a store or a physician’s office, please thank our selfless helpers for their service. They deserve your gratitude, because they are serving the public, which can sometimes be a thankless job. Be kind and try to hold your temper. After all, the Golden Rule of “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you” should be something that should be foremost in our minds as we navigate these unfamiliar waters. We’re all in this together, so let’s show a little empathy for those who are working so hard for our creature comforts.
Patty Servidio is an Anton Media Group columnist.