Roger Marolt: Settling in on the new abnormal
If you could only have one, which would you choose: coffee or toilet paper?
That’s a tough one. Fortunately, you don’t have to choose. Unfortunately, there is no choice. Next time you have to restock the bomb shelter formerly known as your home, you will see.
We went as long as we could but Sunday we had to make a big box run to Target to resupply for this isolation period. There was not a roll of toilet paper in the place but the coffee section was completely stocked. I was a little disappointed by the toilet paper shortage, but thrilled about the caffeine situation. I can live without the former. In a pinch, you can substitute Kleenex if you’re not too aggressive with it. Worse case scenario? You have new appreciation for why toilets and showers are so close together.
As for coffee, that would be a tough shortage to muscle through. What’s the easy household substitute for wake up juice? Three teaspoons of ghost pepper hot sauce? A few drags on a Marlboro? A couple whiffs of ammonia-based bathroom cleaner? It’s not pretty.
My daughter, who has been sequestered with us throughout this ordeal, joined us on our Target trip. Can you believe the isolation has already lasted a week? It felt so good to get out in our mobile bubble to see Glenwood Springs and the sun. Once in the store, we kept our distance from the few other people there. I noticed nobody was so much as making eye contact. I said “hello” to the first couple of no nonsense shoppers I passed, at a safe distance, and didn’t get replies. It’s like they started to speak and then caught themselves. I don’t know if this all-in distancing stems from guilt of getting seen in public or is just evidence that our brains haven’t adapted to what the exact shut-in protocol is, so everything is off limits until we can cerebrally rewire for this weird time. It really is for the best.
I overcompensated for the lack of TP and bought what is about a three-month supply of Keurig coffee pods for our family of accountants in tax season working from home along with our college sophomore who is now here taking her engineering courses online. The boxes of java are stacked on shelves in the garage where the toilet paper should be. It’s not like this overkill escaped my mind in the moment, so I stopped and bought a case of wine in Willits on the way home. I figured there is no better antidote to coffee in the morning than booze in the evening. Plus, they gave me a 10% discount for buying a dozen bottles. It’s not like I ever considered not buying that much in a time of crisis. If they only knew.
Before this, we stopped at Fat Belly Burgers in Carbondale to get some take-out lunch. I looked around to make sure nobody saw us. We ordered far away from the window and the kid working the counter was just as far away on the other side. We swiped our own credit card on the reader now conspicuously placed on our side of no-man’s land and he didn’t make us sign anything. We hollered out the tip to add to the total. He set our bag of food on the counter and backed away slowly. I bounded up and pinched it by the fold at the top and we made our getaway, headed for home to indulge in the luxury of eating something, anything that we didn’t cook.
The burgers were heavenly! Afterward, I remarked how good it felt to do something normal again, even though what we had just done was anything but. If you had ever told me that one day my wife, my 25-year-old daughter and I would plan a fun outing to Glenwood to buy toilet paper in order to break out of a funk only to come home with a case of wine and a bag of hamburgers instead because they were completely out of even store-brand toilet paper, I would have sold all the stocks in my retirement account immediately.
Roger Marolt is starting to see that the easiest way to get through the darkness is to make light of it. Email him at email@example.com.
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