It is all our fault…..We are to blame… and now we must live with it…
When we moved into this little “one horse town” things were different. It had one hardware store where you could buy nails by the pound not by the box, pick out the screw or a bolt that you needed instead of buying a “value pack” of a dozen or more that will end up in a drawer. You could even get kerosene from a pump into your own can, or a bottle of propane etc etc etc.
The “farm store” had everything needed, out of a sack or barrel and all the needed hardware to fix a gate. But it was run by an ole S.O.B. who made it clear that they did not want outsiders moving into their quiet little town. So be it; he just did not know what was to come, and not from us retirees, but from “big business”, who would quickly remove such as he.
Then, there were three grocery stores, one larger mom and pop one, which had fresh bread, a meat market section, dairy, and even fresh vegetables and fruit, mostly locally grown. The people working there all knew you by your first name, and would accompany you, when possible, by getting what was not stocked. There were a couple more, connected with service stations, which took care of the quick, “forgot to get” items, which we did not completely appreciate, because their selection was not large enough, (we thought), but what should you expect out of a gas service station.
One locally owned bank, which I did not like, but how did I know what it would quickly become, when it was purchased by Wells Fargo. Now there are five banks and the one above has been taken over by the largest conglomeration in America, Wow~! Instead of talking to the people I knew, If I am lucky to sit and hold the phone long enough, I must then talk to someone living in India, so they can earn a little more off my business.
The Mom-n-Pop store just couldn’t survive the cost cutting of the HEB that moved in, and everyone was so exited about. The service stations are closed, but that slot has been taken over by 7-11 or Dollar General, and I must say that I still use them often out of utter last chance.
The hardware store was replaced by an Ace Hardware, and then when it folded, The Home Depot, which put the others out of business, then by Tractor Supply, none ever did have the plumbing part you needed, but you could replace it with three pieces at three times the cost, to do the same job, and remember those screws mentioned above~? Yes they both have that “convenience” (to whom~?), well I have a special drawer full of all those bolts, nails, and screws in packages and a box full of pvc parts that I will never use, but I just can’t bring myself to throwing something I paid for away. Get my drift~?
But my big sorrow is to see that damn HEB. (as I also see Home Depot), It seems that they run it as a “poor relative” of their larger stores in Austin, and I swear that the HEB produce comes from the larger stores in the city, when they are too old to sell there, and they must have hired someone who claimed to be a baker, who puts together packaged bake stuff out of a box then bakes them to a hard half burnt crust, or half raw and my sensitive nose can often smell the meat, fish counter when I enter the store. (but they tell me when you can no longer smell, you may have Coronavirus. Wonder if HEB will pass this smell test~!
But now with the current Virus thing, and my being up in my 80’s; shopping has become a real problem to me. I am not so much worrying about passing on a sickness, because I am as healthy as a person can be for my age, but I am also in that age bracket that is most in danger of catching the bug.
So first I went on line, yes they have “special programs” for ordering “curb pickup”. Lots of luck with that~!!!…. Great, you put in your zip code and start your shopping off a limited mixed up list. So after and hour or so, I had a nice list made up and and hit return…. It came back with a time and date, when I could pick it up, what they might have, a week from the date I made the request, in a store in Port Lavaca, Texas over 150 miles from me. So this would be at least a 300 mile round trip to do my convenience shopping…. Something was wrong, Austin and San Antonio were much closer, so I tried again, and again, and again, in fact three times more, then gave up.
There is another number for old folks like me, but I felt that I could outsmart them and get that milk before it soured and the eggs hatched. I could go when others were asleep; I am so smart~! NO that was not possible, they have changed their hours from six in the morning to almost midnight to a more convenient time of from 8:AM to 8:PM….Wow that is the way to cut back on crowds, just make the same number of people shop for the same amount of food, in a shorter period~!
So what to do…. I knew that if you arrive at a time when others are, or should be, sleeping, the store has fewer people. Now because churches are no longer having service, I had a great plan. I would arrive a little before 8 on Sunday, and be one of the first through that door. Only need a few critical things like eggs and milk, I would get in there and out through the express “eight items or less” lines.
So I arrived and started for the side (mostly exit) door where few people go, as it is so far from the produce. NO LUCK, it is now locked with an employee standing there, and she told me that I must stand in line and only use the main entrance, Looking at this “main” door there was a line of people around the block, nose to ass, and the doors had not even opened yet~!
If the Mom-N-Pop store still existed, I could have called them ahead, and they would have had what I needed at the front, where I could pay and go, (been there, done that), but they now live in Florida. Old Mr Evangelical H. E. Butts is long dead and his descendants even sell alcohol in his HEB stores, but not to all of us old farts.
Now I am back home and must figure out how to get those eggs and special milk, in a place where I can pick it up without standing in a Diseased “Coronavirus Conga Line”. But it is not as urgent as it was, because I stopped at “Dollar General” on the way home, got my milk, eggs, ice cream, breakfast rolls, and treats for Tami, being the only person in the store, and you know what~? Those people who work there are pleasant, and seem to be happy to have a job in these hard times~!