This morning, I left the house for the first time in several days because we needed to restock our kitchen. As I usually do, I brought along reusable bags, but when I got to the supermarket (Dierbergs), there was a sign saying it would now only pack groceries in single-use paper or plastic bags. In a normal world, that would seem silly, but in the COVID-19 world, it makes perfect sense — and I’m disappointed in myself for not thinking of it. Not letting us bring bags from home is a completely valid rule that will help keep store employees¬†and shoppers safe, because you never know about the hygienic habits of the other humans.

Most of the store was still well-stocked — particularly the produce department — but there was nary a single ply of toilet paper to be found. The meat department shelves were very low on chicken and beef, none of which is an acceptable substitute for a roll of Cottonelle. But the deli counter was open, with lot of options on display and fully-staffed, the packaged goods aisles were pretty full, and there was plenty of bread. It also looked like Dierbergs had brought on a bunch of new employees, because more cash registers were open than usual, and each had a young person I’d never seen before bagging the orders as they came down the belt. I thanked each of them for being an important part of our economy in such hard times.

I also made a stop at The Bagel Factory, the only place in our area that has real bagels. I was worried they were closed and in danger of going out of business, like so many other small enterprises. Fortunately, the door was open and the “Hot Bagels” sign was on. I said hello to the woman who’s been behind the counter for years, told her I wanted a half-dozen, and said I was glad they were still open. She said that because all of their business is to-go (there are no tables or chairs), all they had to do was put away the cutting board and toaster near the entrance. Customers still go in — two others while I was there, maintaining a safe distance — conduct their transactions and leave with smiles on their faces, all in about 90 seconds. I hope that stays true for a long time.

With schools shut down and many people working from home, the roads weren’t nearly as busy as they’d be during a regular rush hour. Of course, not everyone has a job they can do from home, so there were still some commuters, but most of the vehicles I spotted belonged to UPS, FedEx, and other delivery services. They must be doing gangbuster business, carrying packages to people who can’t or won’t venture out into the world.

I wondered how many of them had rolls of toilet paper inside.