Grocery Shopping in a Time of Pandemic

Laurie Levy
5 min readApr 14, 2020
Hands washed and ready to go

Being in a high-risk group for Covid-19 due to age and asthma creates a special fear and anxiety. Do I dare to go out for groceries or go to the drugstore for medicine? I have done each once since March 14, and found myself regarding other people as enemy combatants. When I went to Trader Joe’s during senior hours, I was very impressed by the precautions they were taking and the well-stocked shelves. Then the anvil fell. The store had to close because one of its employees tested positive for coronavirus.

While the store decontaminates, I am left to wonder if the employee was my checker, someone who handles food in the back, or someone who stocks the shelves. Despite having very poor results using Instacart and Amazon, I resolved to try a delivery service again. The business model of both services troubles me. Finding a delivery window these days becomes a game of trying at odd hours to see if I can get one within a week. If I luck out and get a window, most of what I order ends up being out of stock. These companies are the Uber or Lyft of grocery delivery services. Their shoppers are poorly paid, have to use their own cars, and are taking the risk I fear taking by going grocery shopping. Except they do it over and over to cobble together a low salary.

Imagine my shock when I received an email invitation to shop with Instacart and receive my groceries the same day, April 11, followed by this email:

I received this on April 11

It appeared that, even though I had not selected a specific time to get this great offer, the groceries would arrive “tomorrow, April 14.” While that was three days away, I was fine with that, so I placed an order. At 9:00 pm on April 11, I started receiving texts from Haman (no comments from my Jewish friends) that he was shopping my order. Following this was a constant stream of texts that the item I had selected from the Instacart website, that was in-stock when I made the order, was unavailable. There was no orange juice. Would I like mango juice instead? I went to “other options” and told Haman I would take a different size of orange juice, but he refunded my order for the juice.

Laurie Levy

Boomer. Educator. Advocate. Eclectic topics: grandkids, special needs, values, aging, loss, & whatever. Author: Terribly Strange and Wonderfully Real.