Costco In COVID-19

This morning, I went to Costco. Yes, in the midst of the swirling coronavirus fears and preparations. Yes, after hearing reports of half-hour waits just to get into the parking lot. Yes, after all the media coverage of runs on groceries and paper products. What can I say: we needed almond milk and coffee.

I pulled up to the stoplight out front of the Costco at 11:40. It took me 15 minutes to get into the parking lot, park w-a-a-a-y away, and walk in. That really wasn’t bad: the 15 minutes included a good five minutes waiting behind someone who themselves was waiting for someone to back out of the handicapped space, so they could use it. The driver of the pickup behind me was visibly getting frustrated, even angry, at having to wait for a disabled person to find a parking space. Not a good start to the visit, I thought to myself.

On walking in, an employee stood there to wipe down the handlebar of the shopping cart I had brought in. I had to laugh because I’d been walking it in from the parking lot for a good five minutes first. It only took me about ten minutes to do the actual shopping, including, yes, the purchase of a pack of toilet paper. They had an employee stationed there, warning people, only one per customer. Is this what we’ve come to?

The entire length of the store is one long checkout line. Note everyone has toilet paper and water.

Checkout, however, took 35 minutes of standing in line. There were three lines that stretched to very back of store. The lines moved pretty quickly, but still, very daunting to see.

So what kinds of takeaways did I have from my hour at Costco?

More shoppers were wearing masks than employees: I saw only one employee with a mask, while at least a half dozen shoppers wore them. I take some comfort in that. Most carts had their allotment of toilet paper, plus bottled water–those were the popular items.

But all the more was, while it was a madhouse of people and a palpable sense of fear, it was more like an impending blizzard than the apocalypse. There was calm, there was order, there was a lot of toilet paper and water being bought…but apart from the angry pickup driver, I didn’t encounter short tempers or hideously selfish behaviors. Yes, it was easily three times busier than a normal Saturday; but it wasn’t unsociable, and in that I have hope. We may have to weather some difficult days and weeks with coronavirus, but we don’t have to do it in an atmosphere of panic.

Author: Waiting For Life

Eric became the Associate Pastor of Sydenstricker United Methodist Church in Springfield, VA, in June 2019, as his first appointment on entering the pastorate. He is also a student at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, KY. He's been a Certified Lay Servant in the UMC since 2003 and has been preaching and teaching about Christ since 1995, and answered Christ's call to pursue ordination in 2018. Opinions and posts are my own, not those of Sydenstricker UMC, or the Alexandria District or the Virginia Annual Conference of the UMC.

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