Updated: Apr 9, 2020
Yesterday I placed my grocery order through Instacart and right away it was placed in the queue. I still don't know how I accomplished that. Almost immediately I received the following message:
"This is your Instacart shopper Brandon, and I'm eggs-cited to get your order started! If you have any special requests or need to make changes, donut hesitate to ask. I'll be sure to let you know when I'm finished shopping. until then, romaine calm and carrot on!"
I can't tell you how much I loved this. I replied "I just may pepper you with requests."
As he shopped and suggested better deals and alternatives to some missing items we exchanged more puns and laughs...yes, he is dairy good at his job. We left the following sign on the garage, "Thank you Brandon. You lettuce stay home. #Flattenthecurve"
In an era of virus-dodging, Brandon made this weekly, mundane task enjoyable. Grocery shopping has turned into an elaborate game of chance: Who to order from, Amazon or Instacart? Should I try to stay up until after midnight to get a delivery window? And all throughout the process, I recognize how thankful I am to have so many options and the ability to even order my food for delivery.
Brandon drove up and dropped all of the items in front of our garage. He wore gloves and was quick and clean. Our own "wiping down" production took about 30 minutes before everything was brought into the house.
As he dropped off the groceries we chatted from afar. He thought that my kids would love the order of food. "Well, I've been pushing carrots and they haven't been buying," I said. He told me his kids somehow magically ate cauliflower. All of this conversation was at a distance of probably 20 feet. I still felt nervous. Bizarre. He smiled at the sign on the garage and asked if he could take a picture...it was his fourth day on the job and we were the first ones to leave him a note.
We are all striving to #flattenthecurve and try to stay "clean" in case we needed to help other family members and try to protect ourselves and our kids. But I also think about Brandon. He was out and about shopping for multiple people and he has kids. That's tough to reconcile.
Worse yet, today I read an online article in the Washington Post titled "Grocery Workers are Beginning to Die of Coronavirus: At least four people – who had worked at Walmart, Trader Joe’s and Giant – have died from covid-19 in recent days." That's overwhelming.
The article states:
"Though more than 40 states have ordered nonessential businesses to close and told residents to stay home to stem the spread of the virus, supermarkets are among the retailers that remain open. Thousands of grocery employees have continued to report to work as U.S. infections and death rates continue to climb, with many reporting long shifts and extra workloads to keep up with spiking demand. Many workers say they don’t have enough protective gear to deal with hundreds of customers a day. Dozens of grocery workers have tested positive for the coronavirus in recent weeks."
I know that there are many smart people striving to solve these challenges and keep workers safe. I am hopeful that massive standardization happens soon and keeps workers, and those of us staying home, safe. So, thanks to Brandon for supporting the community and being that important, and funny(!), link in the grocery supply chain. We are lucky to have virtually met you.
Meaningful Act #5 is dedicated to Brandon and all of the Grocery Workers who lettuce stay home and #flattenthecurve. Thank you for bringing a smile to my face and for delivering the groceries and allowing us to stay home. Please stay safe on the front lines of this unbelievable pandemic.
How else should we be talking about this? What is the call to action here?
UPDATE, April 7, 2020 9:30 AM: After posting, I came across this article from Molly Kinder at Brookings, Grocery workers are keeping Americans alive during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s what they need.