Friday, May 22, 2020

one works, the other doesn't

Given how content I am to hole up with B. and the cats, with just e-mail and blogs and an occasional phone chat with my brother to sustain me socially, I was surprised at how satisfying my latest web-based meeting was yesterday. Because it went smoothly and because it was populated with a group of actual friends (as opposed to just friendly acquaintances, like the library committee), it filled a socializing hole in my being I hadn't realized I was missing. In lieu of meeting annually in person, we're going to try meeting monthly online for a while. I think this will work.

The weekly grocery shopping, though, couldn't have been more stressful while still coming to an eventual successful conclusion. We'd tried to turn to online ordering and pickup from the store back at the start of April, but gave up because no slots were available. This week we looked again and they were. So we placed our order, which allowed specification of substitutions, with a pickup time of noon today. The instructions said, when your time arrives, drive to the store, park in one of the designated spaces, phone the number on its sign. Seemed easy.

The first crash came when the phone call produced only an intercept. When I went inside to inquire, the first thing I was asked - the first thing every store employee asked me during the day's saga - was, had we received the e-mail confirming the pickup was ready? No, but there was nothing in the instructions saying to wait for such an e-mail. I was told they were running way behind, partly because of the holiday weekend, but then why were they offering time slots they knew they couldn't fulfill? How late they'd be they couldn't say at that point, but when I tried again after dinner, a shifty manager whose stories kept changing finally settled on "sometime that evening." At about 9:15 the e-mail came. But why they couldn't have sent out a delay message or two with an ETA was not clear, nor was the utter and complete lack of interest of every employee in the fact that the dedicated phone number didn't work. Also unencouraging was the several-times-observed tendency of store employees to pull down their masks in order to talk, which rather misses the point of having one. Given that I couldn't reach the store even on its regular phone number (ring, ring), I probably spent more time in breathable risk by conducting this ideally no-contact pickup service than I would have had I done the shopping myself. Maybe we'll try this again next week, with no holiday and a longer prep span. Maybe.

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