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I knew it might be an odd experience since I haven’t been out much. But it felt even stranger and more disconcerting than I had expected. The pharmacy in our development is small. It’s usually not very busy there, so I figured I’d just ride over and pick up my prescription. Jerry was dying to get out of the house—it was almost like a road trip—and drove me over.
To avoid people’s bumping into each other to shop or pick up their prescriptions, the owners decided to allow one person at a time into the store. There were at least four signs in the little outside entry area that demanded we wait outside until it was our turn. (I say demanded because words on the signs were underlined, and one sign had a large arrow on each side of it so that inattentive customers would be sure to see it.)
As I approached the pharmacy entrance, I saw one person waiting outside—with her mask and a pair of spring blue rubber gloves. Walking up to the door just before me was a fellow who looked perfectly normal—except he had on a mask and a pair of yellow leather gloves. He looked slightly familiar, but I realized all of us do when half our faces are missing. I felt almost naked with just a mask on.
Normally people in our development are pretty friendly. Wherever a group of us is waiting, we smile, pass the time making small talk. But today, all of us were silent. No chit-chat. No smiles (except for the one my husband had crudely drawn on my paper mask). We all stood our six feet apart, quietly, waiting our turn.
Each time a person came out, another one of us went in. Every customer had on a mask and gloves. (Maybe as seniors, they all feel threatened. After all, I’m only 70.) Finally, the fellow who’d been in front of me came out, nodded, and I felt sure I could detect a smile under his mask. It comforts me to think so.
In spite of the sunny day, cloudless sky and gentle breeze, it felt dark and forbidding as I waited. It seemed like all of us waiting were stuck in a timeless movie, where our lives were forced to stand still. Even the birds, usually calling out to one another, seemed to be silenced with us. We were together but alone.
Fortunately, the pharmacy pretty much had its routine in order. So once I went in, I exited with my medication quickly.
But the oppressive feeling of disruption, sadness, and uncertainty followed me out the door.
I still haven’t shaken it.Published in