Safeway pickup was less than smooth. Arrived at around 4pm after the 3pm pickup window opened and found a complete lack of social distancing happening at the pickup spots.
Safeway says you just drive up, pop the trunk, call a posted number, and wait for someone to come load your groceries in the back. No touching anything, no close proximity to others. The reality was far from this.
When I arrived I saw a Safeway worker casually chatting with multiple other curbside pickup customers. One person was standing outside his car, maybe two feet away, as the Safeway worker loaded groceries into his car. Neither were wearing masks as they chatted away casually. Another car had an elderly couple (well within the age-related risk group) with their car windows down, talking face-to-face and passing their order confirmation paperwork back and forth. No face masks and no gloves on the elderly people. This Safeway worker must see hundreds of people a day, touching items and standing too close. She’s now doing the same with people at high risk for severe complications from COVID-19 and nobody but me seems bothered by this.
I call the number on the sign and the only answer is the Safeway worker that looks at me, in a mask and wearing gloves, a little puzzled. She comes over and attempts to talk to me through my closed car window. I don’t roll it down so we awkwardly shout things at each other as I hold up my email confirmation on my phone and try to zoom in so she can read the name on the order. Why couldn’t we have done this more easily over the phone like it’s supposed to work? She ultimately shouts that they’re running way behind on orders and that ours isn’t ready. I should go home and wait for a final email with a pickup confirmation before coming back. I drive away disappointed.
Seven hours later, at 11pm, we get the email. I suit up in a fresh mask and pair of gloves and drive back to Safeway. There’s only one other car waiting this time and there’s no Safeway worker out and chatting with customers. Great. I call the number and there’s no answer. After about four more call attempts I finally get an answer from a (quite understandably, I must say) stoned worker that says he’ll be out with my order soon. Cool. I hit play on my ebook and pop the trunk. A surpassing number of shoppers are parking and walking in as I wait. I guess coming at 11pm to shop in person probably isn’t such a bad idea. Most are wearing masks and gloves, which is comforting. Maybe ten minutes later he shows up and loads the groceries in the back. He tries to hand me a confirmation paper and shrugs and drops it when I ask that he just toss it in the back. He’s wearing gloves, but no mask. I thank him profusely, wish him well, and drive off (with the windows down in hopes that any errant coronavirus particles will be blown off the plastic bags.
It felt post apocalyptic getting groceries like this, rebreathing moist air through a surgical mask, wearing blue nitrile gloves, driving through mostly silent streets late at night to have someone I don’t know put groceries in the back of my car with only a few words spoken between us as we stay as far away from each other as we can. What does normal look like after coronavirus? Do we shake hands again? I don’t want to. Do we wear masks during daily activities like is common in some Asian counties? Do we ever work in crowded offices again? I don’t know the answer to most of these questions and fear we won’t for a long time.