Masks and Gloves? Check! (My Coronavirus Diaries, Installment #11)

April 18, 2020


This morning at 7:00am, by order of Republican Governor Larry Hogan, masks became mandatory wear in any enclosed public space in Maryland (a majority Democratic state). Thanks to a timely gift of a reusable cloth mask and disposable gloves from a dear friend yesterday, I was prepared. Not that I was planning to go out today; I’d already taken my aunt on our weekly grocery outing yesterday, both of us wearing hastily fashioned bandannas made from scarves. The timely gift of masks and gloves arrived afterward.

But, after receiving two phone reminders from my pharmacy to pick up a newly pricey prescription refill, I decided I’d better venture out this afternoon. After figuring out how to put on the mask (my friend had even given me a link with instructions that I didn’t bother with) and pocketing a pair of gloves, I drove to the pharmacy and started my transaction. But I used the wrong card to pay for it! Thank goodness I had the presence of mind to check my error, return to the counter, and reprocess the purchase with the correct card!

Flush with some spare cash (thanks to my aunt, who gave me a little “gas money” yesterday), I decided to go on this next part of today’s adventure: searching for my magic elixir, Cloverland Chocolate Milk! I thought I’d scored some two days ago. Alas, that bottle had gone bad—even though it passed the smell test. After drinking it twice, and becoming nauseous both times, I ditched it, and settled for a bottle of Giant brand chocolate milk yesterday. But that milk was just as bad. No nausea, but also no taste; this 1% “milk” with too much chocolate flavor had the consistency of water.

So, off I went to a small neighborhood grocery store a block away from the pharmacy. I found an easy-in/easy-out parking space, donned my gloves, and marched over to the store, expecting its normal easy-in/easy-out shopping experience. Instead, I encountered a long line along the side of the store—they were counting customers, allowing only a small group in as an equal number went out.

At first, I felt foolish standing in this long line. Although everyone wore masks and many wore gloves, no one paid any attention to the chalk-drawn X’s on the sidewalk, marking the 6-foot distance we were meant to follow. I decided not to mention that. Instead, I engaged in a lovely conversation with the two women in line behind me. Mostly, I listened, nodded, laughed, and gave thumbs up to these women, as they talked about their lives. Both were mothers of grown children. Both had had painful experiences with bad backs and knees. But most inspiring was their shared positive attitude. Girded by faith, yes. But also, girded by determination and fortitude to make the necessary changes in themselves to improve their health. One of the women had faced the fact that being overweight had contributed to her severely damaged knees. Not only had she worked to lose that weight (you’d never believe she’d been so heavy!), but she also endured multiple surgeries, extensive physical therapy, and overcame the need for pain medication. Both women described their reluctance to be dependent on canes as the impetus for their current daily regimen of walking and staying active as the best antidote to their conditions.

Before we knew it, we were at the door of the store. Our conversation ended abruptly, as the security guard motioned me to go in, but stopped the two ladies behind me. I shouted a quick “Thanks” for the conversation as the guard told me to keep moving.

Fifteen minutes later, I was walking back to my car, having scored not just my magic elixir, but a fresh tomato for tonight’s salad and a box of creamer for my coffee.

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