Corona Virus Update, Costco Version

Reverting to his shameful history as a journalist, a.k.a. “Enemy of the People”, the Clown decided to venture out into the dystopian moonscape of America, now under virtual lock-down, to report to his loyal readers. Both of them. Of course, there is no better place to observe real Americans going about their selfless efforts to “socially isolate” than at a Costco on a Saturday.

To be fair and balanced (you decide), Costco, having a large grocery component, is remaining open as are other grocery chains; and such retailers and their employees are to be thanked wholeheartedly.

Firing up the old clown car, a vehicle especially designed to hold twelve additional clowns besides himself, and inviting twelve close clown friends to join him in order to spread out and quickly canvas Costco without having to linger too long in what could be a petri dish of unknown vectors, we puttered down to Costco. However, for two primary reasons, clowns are generally bacteria and virus-proof. First, under those disgusting three-fingered white comic gloves, our hands haven’t been washed for years. The collection of microbes, bacteria, viruses and critters, many observable to the naked eye, feast on new and uninvited arrivals. You name it, MERS, Ebola, SARS, H1N1, Swine Flu bugs, et al, have entered into a clown’s “house of death gloves”, never to emerge except as skeletal remains. Sad.

Secondly, clowns never, ever touch their own faces or heads, except to add layers of grease paint to sharpen up the fake smiles, fake frowns, fake tears, hideously red cheeks, etc. Ask yourself, would you voluntarily touch a clown’s face? Or would you ever yank off the fright wig of a clown and playfully tousle the matted, greasy tangle mass revealed?  Of course not, you are not an idiot. But you might, however, go to a Costco on a Saturday in late-March, 2020, so the jury is still out on the idiot issue.

Using the parking lot of Costco as our first clue to the extent of social distancing, the evidence was not encouraging. The traditional Costco ballet of cars circling and circling in order to pounce on the parking spot nearest the entrance was in full performance. Angry glares, hand gestures, horns and eye rolling were much in evidence. Some drivers would park straddling the parking lane markers in order to have more social distancing between cars. This parking safety measure is not actually endorsed by the CDC. Then, in desperation, others would squeeze into the half-spaces left available on either side, thus requiring all involved to exit or enter their car by climbing through a window or rear hatch.

Once inside the cavernous warehouse, things appeared routine. One could still purchase a big screen TV large enough to be considered a Jumbotron. Computers, laptops, printers, ink cartridges, packs of 50 Magic Markers in a wide array of colors, luggage, vacuum cleaners, 60 ounce jars of jalapeño-stuffed green olives, ceramic “never sharpen” knives, inflatable kayaks, the latest in spring and summer fashion clothing, were all in abundance, abundance being the business model of Costco.

However, descending deeper into the parts of the store where edible things besides jalapeño-stuffed olives and household goods are available, the picture bleakened. In these areas, the crush of shopping carts and their frenzied pushers were clearly thumbing their noses at social distancing. The ubiquitous term “in an abundance of caution” seemed to have no meaning. Carts were piled high with the essentials of life. Toilet paper. For those late to the toilet paper scrum, paper towels were apparently Plan B. When the paper towels were gone there was a surge toward the facial tissue pyramid. Apparently, Americans have  been convinced that eating paper products is an essential defense against the Corona virus. I believe they got that notion from Trump’s latest presser.

As discouraging as the scene was in the paper products aisle, the household cleaning supply aisle was a disheartening dust-up between the Hatfields and McCoys. Some of the smaller clowns in our posse (many clowns are small people, formerly known as dwarfs, midgets and/or pipsqueaks, depending on the cruelty of one’s middle school friends) were able to dart in and around amongst the contending shoppers and report back that, so far, no blood had been spilled.

In the now endless check-out lines, there were observed several acts of human kindness. One Gen Z’er gave his loaf of whole wheat bread to an elderly couple who had failed to rush the bread aisle with the required zest and determination required to obtain the prize. A mother of two toddlers generously exchanged a 180-count package of Huggies ($39.99) to another young mommy for two, 900 count boxes of Kirkland Baby Wipes  ($38.98) with nary a word said about the $1.01 value differential by mommy #1, a true saint. The moral? Babies gonna poop, health crisis or no.

The Clown, unsuccessful, his-own-self, in the acquisition of bargain-priced paper products, loaded up the clown car with clowns and reverted to plan C. We headed for Buford Highway. It’s called that because if you continue on for 30 miles north, you come to a town called “Buford”. But long before one reaches Buford, one is confronted with several miles of ethnic markets and retail outlets. Many are called “Mercados” which is Mexican for mercado. They sell groceries and such. There are also dozens of Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese and Philippine stores. None of these have “Mercado” signage so determining which would be a place to buy groceries instead of, say, obtaining a “very special massage”, is more challenging. So, we stuck to the mercados. Following several stop-and-search forays (a variation of “stop-and-frisk” but without the racial backlash), the Clown proudly returned home with (1) a six pack of Viva paper towels, (2) a three-box package of Hello Kitty facial tissues and (3) a package of cocktail napkins made in China, each with a “fortune” printed on one side. They are the cocktail napkin version of fortune cookies.

The Clown’s plan is to use these cocktail napkins in the guest powder room, so if a guest is more than just “powdering” and needs an effective paper product for personal hygiene, they can first read their fortune which, for most of us would be, “You will be spending an inordinate amount of time at home so wash your hands”.


Observoid of the Day: Withholding Corona virus supplies based on politics is like Eisenhower refusing to send the Third Army, supplies and air cover to Bastogne because the commander there hadn’t said nice things about him.

Bonus Observoid: Don’t we all wish that Eisenhower were still available?

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