Friday, April 10, 2020

Losing the Food Lottery

It is basically a food lottery here these days.

At one local market, orders must be placed no earlier than 7 AM, no more than 20 items in total. And I think no products starting with the letters C, G or P on Mondays and no item greater than five letters on Tuesday or Thursday. And if you are not sitting at your computer at 7:01, fuggetaboutit.

In another location, orders are taken one week in advance. When did you ever know what you were missing, or what you were craving more than fourteen minutes ahead?

Then, there is news of secret locales, the ones no one else knows about. They are somewhere in the midwest and have mostly stuff you have never eaten, never even considered eating. But now they must be thought of as delicacies.

So, it was basically Christmas (or Chanukah) early yesterday afternoon when we got the call that our order was ready for pickup, the yogurts, juices, greens and other black market goodies (just think of toilet paper that you can eat) there for the taking. We rushed out of the house, called when we arrived at our destination and within a few minutes we were heading home with thoughts of gastronomic glory overwhelming our senses.

The now usual dance routine was performed with unbagging, washing (both our hands and every item that had touched the air within the past three months) and  placing our bounty, like gold, gently into assigned slots. We looked at our good fortune as one would stare at a diamond of unrivalled beauty..

 I counted the minutes until our repast.. But God had other ideas.

At about 4 PM on the first full day of Passover, one of the ten plagues struck this little community, as golf ball sized hail reigned down upon us with the intensity of a Trump rally in Mississippi. The minutes passed and what appeared to be snow accumulated on our back deck. Soon, as it had arrived, so it left and we imagined the worst was in the rear view mirror.

Then we heard the crack. Initially it sounded much like approaching thunder. Almost at once we realized it was something else, something far more sinister.. A huge tree had snapped, not from the branches, but in the middle of what must have been its 50 foot trunk. And landed directly on the overhanging wires, cracking several poles as everything sagged under the weight of an unwelcome guest.

The lights and computers shuttered in response and then gave up the fight. It would be more than 12 hours before power was restored. And, after the initial shock had dissipated, our thought turned to our new prized possessions. Certain meats were saved by quick thinking transfer from refrigerator to freezer. But we were not so lucky with much of  the rest of our treasure.

In the morning, as my wife and son read through the guidelines of what temperature certain items could survive and for what period, the stark realization came of what had to be done. So, one by one, greens were discarded, yogurts were emptied and our collective hearts sank as we stared at what was once more mostly empty space.

I well recognize that in this time of terrible turmoil, of lives upended, of lives ended, sadness over the loss of a morsel of food is beyond ludicrous. But the mind has a mind of its own. For all of you who are similarly situated, where travel into a grocery store or supermarket seems an invitation to disaster, you understand what it is to wait day after day for the next arrival of those treats you have taken for granted your entire lives. No longer at your beck and call. And now, at least for us on this day, nothing but a mirage.

I thought, for a brief moment, I had won the lottery. But it turns out I merely had the right numbers on the wrong day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You probably won’t read this for hours or maybe days - after reordering, waiting, driving back to the store(s), washing, unwrapping, washing, resting, prepping, washing and hopefully having the energy to chew and swallow, but we send commiserating thoughts, wishes for your continued safety and sustenance and much love,

E and M