When our area finally moved into the yellow phase of quarantine a few weeks ago I wondered just what that would mean for area businesses around here...especially our mall. Month after month of everyone staying indoors except for food shopping had turned my little town into a ghost town of sorts. No one was outside. Not for a walk, not in their yard. Not on the roads in the early morning hours. Nothing. For months. We were under curfew from 8 pm until 6 am but you would expect to see...or hear something.
With the warmer weather and some relaxing of the stay at home orders, people...are...everywhere now. The hum of lawnmowers, weed whackers, and the occasional power saw (for the neighbors who are remodeling their home a few houses down) has broken the sounds of silence of this quarantine life and has filled the air with life. Life, coming alive once more is a wonderful thing...as long as we are careful how we do it. Some...do not care.
As the county moved into yellow, the only three stores in the mall with outside entrances could open up. With CDC regulations in place and reduced hours, those stores were set to get back to work. Bath and Body Works stores are not one of the lucky ones to open. But after two weeks into yellow, TJMaxx stores in the area got the go-ahead and they began opening up on Thursday.
I didn't plan to go to the grand opening. I expected that some would want to go but I planned on waiting to return a few things on my next trip out for food and errands. As luck would have it, my husband needed to get some wellness check bloodwork done and he decided to go on Friday. Because I don't care to go out every day now, I chose to catch up on groceries, and a few other errands after the bloodwork and that included the visit to TJ's.
We no longer go into places together since the start of all of this. I would rather go in, get what I need to be done, done, and get back home. If I need bloodwork done, he waits for me in the car. If we need to take his dad to the doctor, I go in with him. So while he went in I waited out in the car...that grew hotter and hotter in the early morning sun. Note to self...do not wear all black when you will be in a car for a long period of time. Almost two hours later, he came out of the wellness center quite upset over the crowds in there and took me to Walmart to grab a few extras we needed, while he sat and ate crackers and juice in the car.
Walmart is no picnic to shop in. People are required to wear masks in the store. People think wearing the mask around their neck counts. Or on top of their head. People also don't follow the stickers on the floor for social distancing. The only registers open are the self-checkouts and they get pretty jammed up when people come to do their major grocery shopping and fill up a cart. I didn't need much but the one thing I did need was his meds and the register was taking a fit and not recognizing the bottle sticker and I needed help. A ten-minute shopping trip took forty-five minutes to get checked out because of the slow-moving process of the pharmacy and I was starting to feel weak from not eating and overheated wearing the mask.
Back into the car I go...and off to our next stop. TJMaxx. When we pulled up to the parking lot I could see a small line outside of the open door. Then I saw the REST OF THE LINE, curve around the doorway, alongside the mall building wall, around the dock area, and back to the opening of the mall doors. Hundreds of people were waiting out in this hot sun to get in and they allowed only 75 people at a time to shop with a time limit of 45 minutes for each. I saw hubby's face and decided to go to the Dollar Tree for supplies and then try again in a bit.
This TJMaxx store is small, so I was shocked to see that they would allow 75 people in at a time. What I didn't know at the time was most of them were in line waiting to get checked out.
The Dollar Tree on this side of town was out of the packing tape I needed so we decided to try the other store across town. Halfway driving there I realized that I forgot to grab new mini blinds in the other anchor store open in the mall so my hubby said we can go back and get them and check on TJ's before getting home.
Back at the mall with plenty of packing tape in tow, the store with the mini blinds had a few extra rules in place before entering...which is fine...I am all about safety first...I just wish their requirement of using the hand sanitizer didn't come with having it in a push-button unit. Yuck. So I pushed the button (after looking at it hesitantly) ...smeared the sanitizer around on my hands, declined the cart after learning it is the only place to get a cart in the store and memorized the only door I can leave the store from...as told to me upon entering. And then sprayed my hands with my alcohol from my pocket.
I found the blinds quickly...thinking we still need to eat something...as I am still hot and faint...and -----> there's the line to checkout. L O N G G G. One register open on the entire lower level...and everyone is filling up a cart with stuff today shopping.
Which surprises me. The stuff part that is. These three months of stop...has done some good with me...and stuff and wanting it all gone. So I am selling it off. My poor mailman said to me through the glass...is there anything left in there to sell? He's been a bit overwhelmed I supposed with scheduled pickups. Oh well, the post office wants us to use that service instead of the window.
Okay so back to the blinds...it takes forever for my turn to get checked out and I get to the car and we drive around the building to check out TJMaxx. Well, the line isn't around the building as it was so I got the bright idea...in this hot sun...and no food...and a migraine starting...to grab the bag off of the back seat and go make my return.
TJMaxx had extended its return policy by these three months with a receipt for purchases made after February. Which is great. So I am standing in line...on the red tape area outside doing my part of the distancing...watching very few people coming out of the building...all while getting a nice sunburn. At the head of the line...are families...with four, five and seven kids...all in tow with mom and dad. Most stores that were open posted signs that they preferred that one person from the family come in to shop. Granted, people with kids may need to bring them if there isn't anyone to watch them.
Okay, I am hot, miserable with a terrible headache so I am thinking...why am I here doing this...and better yet, why are people bringing their kids out to a store with a limit on how many can go in...during this pandemic. I said I was cranky.
I mean that many people have to leave the building before anyone can go in...and we are all cooking in the sun waiting for seven people to leave...and they don't seem to be leaving in large amounts. TJMaxx was kind enough to provide a bottle of water to its guests if they wanted...I passed. We would move up slowly...and the lady in front of me would turn around quickly to see where I was standing. 'Mam...I am the least of your worries...wait until you get into the madness that awaits us.
And after forty-five minutes creeping up one red line after another, in I went. The workers here greeting me with kindness as we made small talk about how things will work inside while getting me a cleaned cart to shop with. I explained I am only making a return and I was told to follow the line to the registers. I glanced up every aisle I passed looking for the opening to join in and found it back at the front entrance of the mall in pets. This line was beyond words. It was filled with one shopper after another with FILLED shopping carts of the most random of goods. Each one making up for their inability to shop these last three-plus months and they wanted it all...NOW!
I stood there in disbelief. The two women in front of me shopping together with their three kids each had a cart full. They would take turns leaving the line to go and grab more all while the smallest of the kids would scream. I had a migraine. It did not get better. No one...but me...practiced social distancing. Sardines in a can we all were in this line. People still coming in with carts could be seen through the end of the aisles, carelessly paging through the racks of clothes...looking to buy. The shelves looked as if there had been a run on items and people were grabbing whatever they could just to buy something. Products that were in the aisles they belonged in during my March visit were placed randomly on shelves just to fill up space. Easter items were still in place and the Rae Dunn end cap was filled with random, old merchandise...and Easter things. I saw a few Rae Dunn birdhouses on an end cap and thought ugh. Just ugh.
People finally joined the mamba checkout line we were in behind me and the woman behind me never heard of social distancing. She wanted to crawl inside of me it would seem...or over me. She was up against me standing at the front of her cart as I had my hands on my cart rail. I, cannot start a riot in a store I just want to make a return in...with a migraine by telling her to back up. And backup would have had a few expletives added. Oh, I have said it kindly to people before...while grocery shopping. But this...no, this was pandemonium in here. Pandemic pandemonium and I was over it all. The workers saw it and said nothing. They would keep making the Maxxinistas Credit Card speech over the intercom while the germs ran rampant. I stayed on the red dots to keep my distance from the people with the kids in front of me who now lowered their masks...all while the kids screamed and the woman kept bumping me from behind.
I moved to the front of my cart now...to use the cart as a spacer between us. Her new idea was to bang her cart against mine. I am not sure at this point at how long it was because every time I looked at my watch I got madder and my head hurt...but I was over it. The people in front of me kept shopping loading more and more into their carts then taking things out and leaving them randomly everywhere, and I would see filled up carts wander down the aisles looking for the end of the line, looking to get checked out...all while children in the store screamed.
As we finally rounded the corner to the regular check out lane, the last mile...I guess you could call it the Green Mile...where you get ready to pay, Ha Ha, green, money,...the woman behind me hit my cart so hard with hers she knocked me off balance. I looked at her over my glasses, and she got the message.
It was finally my turn at the register and I could have cried, my head hurt so much. The cashier asked me was it hot in there because she was so overheated she felt faint. We commiserated over the entire situation, I thanked her for coming back to work as I did appreciate it and her help and I left.
Walking through the OUT door, my friend counting the customers asked me in jest, "How Fun Was That?" I told her I pushed out a small human being with less pain and QUICKER. We laughed, I thanked her again for being there and crawled my way to the car.
I stood in line outside about forty-five minutes to get in...I stood in line inside for one hour and forty-five minutes to do a return. Ridiculous. Absolutely, Positively Insane.
What is the point of pretending to follow the CDC regulations with having only three registers open (to have social distancing) while the manager paced in front of each watching everything...people were stacked on top of each other in line...with others including a ton of little KIDS shopped in the store. People removed their masks whenever they wanted. People touched every blessed thing...especially the two in front of me.
Other workers roamed around the store with what looked like no purpose. The touchpad was sprayed after every customer...while using the same dirty rag on EVERY touchpad to wipe it off.
It was announced Friday that our county will now move into the green phase next Friday, the 19th. More restrictions will be lifted and all stores can reopen again with some limitations. That is great news for the local economy for sure. But I really want no part of it.
As for me and hubby, we will be here at home watching all of the craziness from a distance. We are going to keep our routine of going out for groceries and doctor visits only for a time. I don't know what is next for us virus wise as summer comes and people are out, doing what they want while we still have cases found. I do know that I want no part of the Pandemic Pandemonium that I witnessed yesterday.
It's not worth it.