As a little girl, my mom had to force me into the stores. I’d rather sit on the bench in the middle of the mall (remember those?) and watch people. People have always fascinated me.
You know the game we play when we imagine the lives of those around us? The couple sitting there eating dinner—it’s surely their first date. They’re looking a little tentative, trying too hard to make conversation and smiling way too much and way too big. The little kid who just pulled away from his parents and is running towards the fountain—he’s really running away from his little sister, who’s screaming in the stroller. Clearly, he’s had it, too. The older man shopping alone with a click of his cane and a hint of a smile. He looks spry and eager for the next purchase; he’s probably buying something for his new love, having found it again at 85.
People watching now consists of Zoom, Teams, and WebEx, if the other people can get their cameras to work.
But shopping is now a “thing” of epic proportion. Of course, I switched gears on my shopping opinion once I reached puberty. And for me and my mom, it became our time together, our outing every week, a chance to spend a valuable evening consisting of lots of goodies, a nice dinner with wine, and some lively conversation.
So what did I do when COVID hit? I got her an American Express Gold card. And I passed on all the searching expertise I’ve gained over the years. I mean, I didn’t just start shopping online after the pandemic. But now, it’s on my list of favorite pastimes. Perhaps you can relate.
Do you remember when COVID first hit and we were huddled inside our houses feeling like lost prisoners, and even the sound of a lawn mower was a welcome reminder that another human being actually existed? This is the new role our delivery drivers play for us—not just the connection to them and the realness they bring, but the things they bring, a connection from some other place. I have a security camera that tells me when someone’s at the door. And it always feels like my birthday or Christmas when I know something is waiting for me to open.
In the beginning of the AC period of our history (aka After COVID), my neighbors must have thought I’d lost my ever-loving mind. I admit it. I evolved quickly into a seasoned pandemic shopper while maintaining my commitment to keeping everything clean. This meant boxes stayed on the porch for at least three days; after all, that’s how long they told us it takes for this thing to die on cardboard, right? Then, there was the unpacking on the porch, the spray bottle full of a really strong alcohol mixture, and wiping down everything before bringing it into the house. Then the handwashing and the return trip to the porch to dispose of the contaminated trash. It also meant more trips to our neighborhood dump. The man who manages the cardboard station knows me by name now. I’ve gotten really good at breaking down boxes, disposing of the innards properly, and skipping my way between the bins happily, knowing I’ve done my recycling duty, perhaps not properly thinking of all the waste I helped create!
Some days, my porch is 10 boxes deep. I’d like to say it’s only things my mom and I need, but the term “need” has taken on a new meaning. If I can’t browse in the store, I can do it online and I can do it better. Stronger. Faster. A million-dollar retail woman.
The holidays are upon us now, which means my porch is even more festively decorated with deliveries. It means I got my Christmas shopping done in record time. It also means Santa still has a job. If he can’t come down the chimney, fear not; he’ll visit you on your porch, when you’re sleeping, when you’re awake, and whether or not you’ve been good.
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