COVID-19: Reality vs. perception

As the virus spreads, life goes on


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By Arlene Jones


I began my self-quarantine journey on the afternoon of March 17. This past Friday, was my first trip away from my home since my quarantine began.  My entire perspective on the world had come down to what I had seen on TV or the internet. Thankfully, I had an N95 mask from doing rehab work in the past. So, I put it on and off I went.

Driving north on Laramie, I saw a crew of construction workers. As I got even closer, I marveled at how one seemed to have dreadlocks sticking out from underneath his helmet. To my surprise, it turned out to be an entire crew of black men, all working for Ozinga, laying down the sidewalk curbs. That was a rare sight that I can't recall seeing ever in the past. Normally, if there is a construction project and a black person is to be seen, it's usually a black female whose responsibility is to direct the traffic. When I got further north, there was an entire crew of white guys doing the same thing. Another unusual sight as of late. I can only surmise that the normally predominantly Hispanic crews were missing because of the virus, and possibility of police interactions since the proclamation by the governor for only essential workers to be out and about.

I finally made it to my favorite produce market.  Jerry's Produce in Niles not only has some of the best selections of fruits and vegetables from all over the world, the prices for them makes the trip worthwhile. Before the pandemic, it was one of the busiest fruit markets in the area, with every ethnic group you can think of being in the lot to go inside the store. Thankfully the store wasn't as busy because of the early hour. I had to wait to get into the store, but the line with everyone standing six feet or more apart, moved quickly. They did have a woman standing outside who was directing and limiting the number of people that could be in the store. Once inside, I didn't notice a shortage of anything. Thankfully my shopping list was in the same order that the produce was laid out. So I was able to get everything I needed, including things from their wonderful meat department.

As I made my way back home, I did stop at several other stores. With the exception of toilet paper, all the shelves were pretty well stocked. I did notice that people are a lot nicer during this pandemic. For the most part, most are respectful by giving everybody their space. 

On Saturday, I ventured out to Sam's Club in Northlake. I arrived around 10 a.m., and the line was already around the corner from the entrance. Sam's was limiting the number of people in the store to 100 at a time. With the exception of the silly woman who bumped me with her cart as we stood at the end of the line, I could never understand why she felt the need to want to get so close. It took about a half hour, but I finally made it into the store. Again the selection was great on everything but toilet paper. My normal 15-minute run to Sam's Club took an entire hour.

The prediction from the governor is that the next two weeks are going to be the ones that will truly define this pandemic time.  I pray everyone stays safe and healthy so we can all make it through this unusual time together.

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