I Interrupt New Knee News To Talk About This Surreal Caronavirus Pandemic

It’s now been a couple hours since I returned from my physical therapy session. My thighs are starting to recognize the squats I did while holding a 20 pound weight. It’s actually really great to be exercising again.

On the way home I had a Starbucks craving….well, I had a good coffee craving. This isn’t Oregon or Washington (where Starbucks doesn’t rule) so, I have to settle for Starbucks. I turned into the parking lot in the Willa Springs shopping center and then said to myself, “Doh, only the drive thru will be open.” I loathe drive thrus. I especially hate the one at that Starbucks. It’s horribly designed and is constantly an accident waiting to happen. So, I drove on.

This Starbucks is in a shopping center anchored by a Publix grocery store. I decided to stop and unload my Styrofoam that Publix sells to companies that turn it into packing peanuts and such. Styrofoam cannot be recycled so, Publix takes it and the money they get they donate to local charities. They’ve been doing this since the 1990’s. When I moved to Oregon in 1992 I was a little stunned that Portland didn’t have such a program.

I wanted couscous to have with my salmon. That’s when it got interesting. I went to the rice and bean aisle. It was almost completely bare. There were two large containers of couscous but, I wanted the small box because I’m trying to stick to a mostly Atkin’s diet for awhile. It’s an expensive way to eat. When I had money I was on it for four years and my weight stayed low the whole time. Also, my gym work outs were very productive. I tend to build muscle mass pretty easily, which pisses off a few body builders in the gym. So, instead of  the couscous I got a coconut jasmine rice from Vigo.

I was amazed at how empty the store was–of both merchandise and customers. When I worked for Boar’s Head I did demos in the deli at this store. It is one of the busiest in the area. There is almost always a huge line at the sub counter. There was no one there while I shopped. I wandered around and took some photos of the empty shelves.

When I arrived home I turned on the television and found Ron DeSantis, our governor, holding a press conference in Orlando with Orange County health officials. I mostly watched the crawler at the bottom of the screen. Over 35,000 cases of coronavirus in Italy. There are over 300 cases in Florida with seven deaths. Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties have more than half the cases in Florida. In Central Florida all public school children will participate in distance learning until at least April 15th. All Florida public college and university campuses will remain closed (not sure about their libraries. Grad students are probably anxious about finishing dissertations and theses) and students will finish classes online. Bars and nightclubs are closed for thirty days. Restaurants are open but, can only fill to half capacity and many hospitality workers are losing their jobs. Spring breakers are still headed to Clearwater Beach (very close to my hometown) on the Gulf Coast. And, establishments such as Starbucks that have drive thrus can only serve customers via drive thru windows.

It is now after 11 pm. I’m watching my local news on WKMG, which just reported that my district’s US Representative, Stephanie Murphy (D), is going to self-quarantine because she had contact with Florida Representative Mario Diaz-Balart (R) who tested positive for COVID-19.

It’s scary working in the grocery industry and coming into very close contact with strangers during every shift. As a cashier, every customer comes within three feet of me. That is half the recommended minimum distance. I handle filthy money all day. Under normal circumstances money is dirtier than public toilet seats.

I hope this ends relatively soon. Next Tuesday I have a dermatologist appointment and my last physical therapy session. Then Wednesday I have an orthopedic follow up appointment. I hope they don’t get cancelled but, I could certainly understand the need.

This is so surreal.


The Publix (#796) at Tuskawilla and Red Bug Lake Road in Winter Springs. 3/18/2020.


Where I hunted for couscous and ended up getting Vigo coconut ginger rice. Publix #796. 3/18/2020.


Publix #796. No one in line for subs. 3/18/2020.


Publix #796. Usually carts waiting to get rung up are lined up into this aisle. 3/18/2020.


Notice on register where I got checked out. Publix #796. 3/18/2020.


Florida Governor DeSantis at his press conference in Orlando. WKMG TV. 3/18/2020.

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