So I braved going to the supermarket today. With government site-down-loaded-permission slip dated and signed and in hand, I got into my car and drove over to my favourite supermarket in Regusse, 20 minutes away. But I felt cheated because I wasn’t stopped by any policeman. I didn’t even cross any!
I drove past some cyclists and thought about how wonderful it must be for them, all this beautiful weather and hardly any traffic! I saw a couple walking their dog but I almost felt like telling them they were walking too close together, jeez – what is wrong with me?
Nothing looks different here of course. The sun is still shining, it is very warm today (17 degrees C) and the radio station I listen to in the car, France Blue Provence, was talking about the closures of national parks here. The representative from the Calanques Marseilles (a beautiful narrow, steep-walled inlet that is developed in limestone and dolomite with turquoise waters of the Mediterranean) was saying he was sad that the park had to close to tourists but was excited about the fact that without them, the park will “rejuvenate” thanks to being left alone for a while. This has been the case for the canals of Venice for example. I’m sure all the other rivers here (although I always thought they were pretty darn clean) will also profit from dramatically lowered frequenting. So, there’s another example of a silverlining to the lockdown.
I parked my car and got out. After carefully rubbing an antiseptic wipe on the handle of the cart, I took out my clean handkerchief so I can use it to open fridge doors in the market. I noticed a sign at the entrance, “only 50 customers at a time” but there was no one there to control this. I walked in but was reassured to see few people shopping, even though the parking lot looked full. I scanned the aisles but felt myself strangely attracted to the rosé display. Gosh, so many pretty prink bottles screaming for me to take them. I have lots of wine in my cave at home but this was a good time and excuse to try some more local rosés. I stuck to a price range between 6 and 8 euros per bottle, which these days is on the low side. I remember just a few years back when these bottles cost 4 to 6 euros but the world demand for rosé dramatically rose in the last couple of years shooting the prices way up. I wondered though, if the economy takes a nose dive (and this looks like the case) rosé prices will do so too. Another silver lining for rosé consumers? Well, as long as there is excess of course. But I shouldn’t be thinking like that since my hubby is in the rosé business (lol!). Times are a bit uncertain to say the least! But everyone is in the same boat. Except supermarkets, pharmacies, and internet shopping sites. This is their gold rush.
After selecting a few bottles of rosé based on their colours (I’m big on a pale pink sort rather than golden salmon and to be honest Mirabeau’s Classic is my absolute favourite) I mosied down over to the organic food aisle. Then I had this epiphany: why am I worried about pesticides? I’m using wipes to keep myself from getting a killer virus! Organic food suddenly took a back seat to the more pressing worry of a world-wide plague and so I selected a package of non-organic smoked salmon, so much cheaper. Then I noticed the fresh tuna on the fish stand. It was nice and rosy red. I thought about how I used to think there was too much mercury in fish. Fuck it – life’s too short!! I asked the lady for a couple of pieces but she was quick to snap at me for getting my handkerchief too close to the fish. I assured her my handkerchief was not touching any fish but she was having none of it. She was not in a good mood. I don’t blame her. The fish was expensive, 24 euros per kilo. Should I be spending so much money? Then I remembered my Japanese father once saying to me when I was young, how in business, you should save up your money when things are going well. But when things start to look bad, that’s when you can start spending again. Works every time, he assured me. So okay, it’s time to heed my father’s advice…for once.
Many shoppers were wearing masks. I have a bunch of masks in my car. I was smart, I had ordered them on line back in January when I saw that the virus was spreading in Asia. I haven’t felt the need to wear one here yet. The French news channels keep saying only wear one if you are sick. But if you are sick, why would you be out at the supermarket? Shouldn’t you ask someone else to do your shopping? I found myself moving past the shoppers quickly, keeping at least a 2 metre distance from each person. But why was I holding my breath when I moved past them? How silly of me…must be some weird instinctive human thing to do when feeling threatened? The pay counter was next to the toilet paper aisle. I grabbed a pack. I’m running low at home, I swear!! And okay, next time I’m out I’ll wear a mask.
I feel for the supermarket clerks who have to serve so many people all day. I feel for the policemen, the medical staff, the emergency workers, everyone who doesn’t have the “luxury” of staying at home and must continue working during this terrible time. Then again, at least they are getting paid. These knots in my stomach and this constant worrying have much less to do with the possibility of contracting COVID-19 and much more to do with not knowing what is going to happen in the future, our jobs, tourism for the region, oh gawwwd. Nevermind, rosé and smoked salmon will keep me happy – for now.