Having the world slow down and turn to mostly online interactions only, I found this new world to be a mixed blessing. As my physical issues have increased over the past 5 years, it’s been increasingly harder for me to get out and about easily. I’m also basically an introvert as well so withdrawing into semi-isolation is quite normal for me.
Then came COVID-19.
And my social life picked up.
I’m sure that sounds counterintuitive but my social life has relied on Facebook for quite some time now. It wasn’t my idea to join; I was talked into joining FB 10 years ago when I was involved in a high reunion. I was able to get in touch with folks from both high schools I attended; I connected with far flung cousins; I was able to surreptitiously watch my son’s life (snicker) and generally paid little attention until the election of 2016.
Then I got political and got blocked and dropped. Often. Just a tad bit liberal and definitely outspoken. Also, I blocked and dropped my own friends and family to keep my sanity.
Now I keep in touch with a few old friends, an occasional interaction with my southern cousins, lots of fun with my “new” yankee cousins and also with former friends and neighbors from Georgia and Virginia.
Then a plague.
That first week was so much fun! Folks actually responding to me, interacting with me on FB, colleagues actually listening to me. All of sudden my social life bloomed!
You see, I may not be a forgotten senior shut-in but I am not able to participate in activities like I want. I was already in the process of resetting my life. I started ordering from WalMart – I need to drink electrolyte drinks and it’s hard finding the flavor I can tolerate in stock, not to mention the heavy lifting aspect of 8 packs. So Walmart has been delivering my Gatorade for some time now. But now they are sold out – in the nearest Walmart and at the warehouse, and in every store I’ve checked around here.
I had tried Walmart’s pickup option before the pandemic. It was so nice not have to fight my way through shopping inside the store: my crutches are great for walking but not so much for shopping. So that was helpful. Now the only way to get a pickup scheduled is by sitting online and hitting the go button repeatedly at midnight. Second pickup scheduled for tomorrow! Success! As close to risk free shopping as possible and less risk than other stores’ pickup options.
I hadn’t tried a local grocery store chain delivery before – I actually had no clue they would deliver to me 15 miles from the store here in deliveryless Maine. And it’s not my choice of grocery stores. We used their instacart early on, no issues at that time back when this all started. They were supposed to deliver to me on Monday. I’m still waiting on my delayed delivery; I may get one. We are talking a instacart delivery service – a friend of mine in Georgia said the shopper started her order, listed it all as out of stock and cancelled her order. No explanation. So I’m not betting on actually getting the delivery I asked for last Friday. (edit: nope, they cancelled the order completely)
I had switched to Walgreens for the drive up pharmacy window, thank heavens, but my husband’s meds are still at the grocery with no delivery, drive thru window or easy pickup. You also have to walk thru the entire store to get to the pharmacy which I really hate in normal times. Now it’s just dangerous.
I had called city hall (because I believe in preparation) ahead of issues to find out if there were some organizing around helping the homebound and to offer my help. The answer I got was hysterically funny to me. She just said call city hall if we needed anything. Wut? I have lived in smaller communities than Gardiner, Maine, and certainly never gotten that type of attention. In fact, I remember asking the Air Force for assistance many years ago when an ex-hubby’s drinking got out of control. My asking for help was signal to them to do a full-on investigation of him. Forget helping the family. The investigation put me and my son at risk. Oddly enough, I now have trust issues due to what I have witnessed and experienced over the last 60 plus years.
So welcome to my world. We are all trying to figure out how to safely get provisions. But now, my abilities to get provisions have been severely impacted because of so many trying to use the same services. The local grocery who was doing a curb pickup out of a store 15 miles away stopped until this week but I’m not sure I’ll ever manage getting that done – my last midnight attempt said all slots were filled within a minute. One minute.
Senior hours are impossible. We are both high risk and absolutely do not feel safe in a store, having to rely on others around us to keep us safe. Thanks for trying, stores, but no thanks.
I finally called city hall this week (just before I found out my instacart delivery wasn’t coming soon). The city finance manager, Denise Brown, did deliver – in more ways than one. I had hesitated calling because I was afraid there would be a catch, a reluctance to help someone “from away” as they call folks who weren’t born here. And there’s that trust issue.
Denise picked up the few groceries and meds I asked for, delivered them personally, included a couple of extras like paper towels and marshmallow peeps (!) and then returned unasked today with a loaf of the bread I prefer. All at no cost to us! She said they have a fund for that. Now, folks, that feels like I’m living in a dream world! It’s just surreal. Maybe Mainers do take care of Mainers. What a terrible situation to have that proved!
My point in writing this today is to emphasize the necessity of folks helping their neighbors and I also want to suggest that if you are healthy and can get out, please do your own shopping. Please let us who cannot get out be able to get deliveries. If you are competing with us for the pickups and deliveries, we can be in dire straits. Seniors especially may need help. Most disabled folks are in my boat, connected digitally. Others, the older seniors, may not have a phone with apps (walmart pickup requires a phone app) or internet access. These are the ones at extremely high risk – too many are simply not used to asking for help just like us but unlike us, don’t know how to navigate today’s world.
Please, pick up the phone, call someone you haven’t seen in a while, check on seniors to see if there is someone who is helping them, let them know you care. I need that in normal times. We need it now more than ever.
Welcome to my world: be grateful that someday life will return to normal and you can return to your normal. Just don’t forget that I and many other seniors and disabled folks need you just as much then as we do now. This is our normal normal – but now competing for scarce resources.