We’re fast approaching a month in lockdown in Mallorca. When it started, I had plans to do so many things, including decorating. There’s still plenty of time, though, because the lockdown is being extended to April 26th – another couple of weeks from the already-extended date of Easter Sunday.
The last time I left our finca was on March 14th, when we did our usual Saturday morning trip into Manacor. The good old days. Since then, The Boss has done the past two weekly supermarket shops, and local Manacor agricultural producer Terragust has delivered fresh produce to our rural home.
The Boss volunteered to do the supermarket run. I could tell that it was somewhat stressful, and not just because of taking the necessary paperwork, disposable gloves, sanitizer, and wearing a tightly wrapped scarf around his upper orifices – like a 21st-century Dick Turpin.
I may be a writer, but my handwriting is shocking; I blame years of computer use. My handwriting could part-qualify me to be a doctor – a career path I’m very pleased I didn’t pursue, in the current circumstances. Only I can understand the scrawls on the shopping list I usually take on our forays for food. On those occasions, The Boss pushes the trolley and probably switches off mentally until it’s time to get his wallet out.
To make shopping easier for him, I typed out a list, in the order of which he would find the items located in the store. I pictured him whizzing around with his trolley (he’s usually in charge of it when we shop), plucking the required items from the shelves and dropping them into the trolley. Job done.
Alas, it wasn’t quite that easy. I received several calls on his mobile phone on both occasions, with various questions. What was the Spanish for linseeds? What did dried yeast look like? That type of thing.
Stepping Up to the Trolley
With Easter almost upon us, I decided I’d do this week’s shopping run. I hadn’t driven the car since March 9th, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to give my motoring skills an outing. Unlike the almost-deserted car park and store that The Boss had reported after his trips, yesterday was a busy day of pre-Easter shopping and I had to queue to enter.
I wore disposable gloves and a Mrs Dick Turpin-style scarf as I pushed my sanitized-handled trolley through the store. Every now and then, my reading glasses would steam up from the breath trapped by my scarf but, even visually challenged by the fog on my lenses, I could see that social distancing was Not Being Observed. I spent much of my shopping trip avoiding other trolley-pushers and muttering crossly under my breath, like a mad woman. By the way, muttering crossly under your breath, like a mad woman, is an effective technique to make people give you a wide berth.
A large number of shoppers were men, I observed, and most of them appeared clueless. I saw several apparently phoning home, from the exasperated ‘get me outta here’ looks on their faces.
I’m not a stock-piler – we wouldn’t have space to store stuff, even if I were – but I did decide to buy two of certain items, in the hope we could extend the time before the next shopping trip. It was with a well-filled trolley that I arrived at a till, where a friendly young lady wearing a clear perspex face shield gave me a bit of a turn when she told me how much my bill was.
No worries. I extracted my Banca March card (which I almost never use), and duly inserted it into the machine. That was when I realised how difficult it is to tap out a PIN number wearing disposable gloves, with fingers that extend way beyond the length of your own. Three unsuccessful attempts later – although I was convinced at least the last one was correct – my card was rejected. (It was only when I arrived home that I realised the card had expired last November!).
I looked at the three packed Sainsbury’s trolley bags (brought over from the UK in 2004 and still serving us weekly) and envisaged having my purchases taken away from me. My UK bank account card came to the rescue; two unsuccessful attempts at its PIN number and I was on the brink of another card rejection. In a red-faced huff (it really was too warm to be swaddled in a lambswool scarf), I ripped off my right-hand glove and stabbed out the number on the terminal keys. I did, though, thank the cashier for her patience – and for being there in the first place. Judging by the look of surprise on her face, that didn’t happen very often.
Back in the safety of the car, I went a bit wild with the hand sanitizer before driving home. Shopping in the time of corona can be pretty stressful…