COVID Coping: You Get What You Get
A personal essay
The first time I visited Asheville, my host recommended a cafe that had quickly become a local favorite. She described the food, the chefs and even the decor. Almost as an afterthought, she said, “Now, listen. They sometimes get things confused, so you might not get what you ordered. My advice is to just eat what is put in front of you, because I promise it will be good.”
Similarly, when visiting San Francisco, a friend recommended a family-owned restaurant in Chinatown. When I asked what menu items he thought I’d like, he smiled and gave a little shrug. “They’ll probably tell you what you’re going to have,” he said, “And don’t try to argue.”
I’m reminded of these experiences as I have become a customer of online grocery and delivery services. In early March after traveling for a week, I developed a respiratory illness with a high fever, just as our country was starting to realize that the coronavirus was no longer a problem that existed only abroad. Without the availability of a COVID-19 test for a couple of weeks, I stayed home and away from people. This was before we were using words like quarantine and isolation. But it wouldn’t be long.
This was also when online grocery shopping was at its best. Oh how I loved the pre-COVID Whole Foods delivery through Amazon. I picked my items online and in just a few short hours, those EXACT items were delivered to my doorstep. It was beautiful.
As more area companies moved their employees to working from home and the phrase social distancing began rolling off our tongues as frequently now as the terms quarantine and self-isolation, lockdown rumors started. People became fearful and panic shopping ensued. Due to a lack of inventory, I could no longer place my grocery order on Amazon.
I turned to InstaCart, and soon I learned about the world of substitutions and limited delivery times. But hallelujah, I was able to get groceries, albeit now days later. I eagerly awaited my first delivery only to learn, much like all aspects of life, things had changed dramatically in an incredibly short amount of time. I didn’t get all my items. In some cases, I got everything I needed for the meal except for the main ingredient. And once, I got ONE, small, random red potato. Which put to rest my plans for cooking a mess of green beans with bacon and potatoes.
Let’s stop right here so that I can pull out one of my all-time favorite mom phrases: You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit.
Has there ever been a time that those words were more true? Now is the time to stop and count our blessings. We no longer find comfort in a daily routine of going to an office and sharing physical space with our colleagues. But we adapt. Look at how we already have! Zoom and other online collaboration software companies have dramatically spiked in users in just a couple of weeks. We find a way. We make it happen.
Yesterday I got bored bumping around between my furniture as if my house is a living pinball game. I took a break in my front yard. As I was yelling across the street to my neighbor in a friendly conversation, he lamented the loss of televised sports. Not being a sports fan or much of a TV person, it hadn’t occurred to me how disappointing that could be. But alas, he has Tiger King.
Lost play dates and canceled school activities make way for family game night and Monopoly marathons. Indefinitely postponed first dates create opportunities for perfectly grown adults to talk on the phone for hours, just like teenagers. At least those of my generation.
You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit.
Last night I cooked a sirloin steak (that was the replacement item for the roast I attempted to order online) along with brussel sprouts. My plate felt incomplete. Then I remembered that lonely little red potato. It was delicious.