8 April 2020

Carry on, Jo: Jo goes to the supermarket (Covid-19)

"Of course I know what shallots are!", Jo snaps into his cellphone.

"And cumin?", his wife went on, worried.

"Look, I've consumed more cumin in my lifetime than you have rice!", retorted Jo loudly as he struggles to manoeuvre the rusted shopping cart with his other hand, not realising how imbecile he'd sounded to the other midday shoppers.  "And stop calling; you're embarrassing me!"

This isn't right, Jo inwardly protests.  Grocery shopping is a woman's job.  This social distancing thing is getting ridiculous.  Damn virus!

Mrs Jo has been at odds with herself all morning over letting her husband do the groceries by himself.  He's so inept, she laments.  If only I could ride a bike.  They have had to be frugal ever since Jo lost his janitorial job three months ago for habitually loafing at work.  Feeding their large family which includes his young, unhandy second wife and eight children has become a soul-sapping, daily worry.  They have little money left.  Damn you, Jo; don't bungle this.

Back at the supermarket, Jo is surprised to see numerous others like himself; men trudging along with shopping carts, each clutching his own unique grocery list.  Most look lost and confused.  A handful are squawking over the phone in obvious distress.

Purple carrots?

Honey, quickly, what does beetroot look like? But, Mom, their cutlets only come in 2kg packs!  No more bok choy; what now?  Which ketchup brand do you want?  Come see for yourself if you don't believe me!  Honey, is spinach a fruit?

Blaming this curiosity squarely on the Covid-19 lockdown, Jo is wryly amused by the scenes being played out before him.  I'm not alone.  Almost instantly he feels sunnier - spirited even - and promptly pulls out his own grocery list.

"I have one too!", he abruptly interrupts a passing shopper, startling the septuagenarian to Jo's perverse delight.  Tickled, he murmurs, "Right, let's do this."

Grabbing a small pack of lady's finger, Jo is relieved to see neatly-arranged packets of cumin just two shelves up and, to the left, the plumpest cucumbers he'd ever laid eyes on.  He duly helps himself to a packet of each, well-pleased with how he'd started off.  Three down, five to go.  Darn, I'm good!

Heartened, Jo gleefully meanders his way around the supermarket in double-quick time.  Having been a janitor almost his entire working life, he has learnt to quickly work out the layout of places strange and alien.

Gliding from lane to lane, rack to rack, cooler to cooler, he mentally ticks off each item on his shopping list as he nonchalantly chucks them into his cart one at a time.  And lastly, shallots!

Proud of how efficiently he'd run his errand, Jo gloated to the cashier, "Look at those amateurs.  They were already here when I came in and they're still at it".  He shakes his head in arrogant disdain - his ego bloated.  The cashier remains deadpan.  Loser.

Back home, Jo's wife is suddenly overcome by a deep sense of foreboding on hearing the unmistakable sound of her husband's decrepit bike approaching.  I knew it!  Something's wrong; he shouldn't be back so soon.

"You wouldn't believe how ignorant and stupid some people are", Jo enthused as he sauntered into the kitchen with his purchases.  "This guy at the store doesn't even know what spinach is!"

Already feeling tight-chested from dread and potential regret, Mrs Jo doesn't respond as she goes over the two shopping bags her husband had just brought in.

"And another had to ask his wife what beetroot looks li......".  Before Jo could finish, however, his wife lets out a harsh, ear-shattering screech.

"Jo-o-o-ooooo.........!  You got these wrong!"

"I did?", Jo ripostes.  "Well, at least I got the cumin right."

Jo's versions of lady's finger, cucumber and shallots

Are you, like me, from the brigade of (reluctant) hubbies who have had to do the groceries during the Covid-19 lockdown?  Did you personally experience or witness any of the scenarios mentioned in this story - whether in the role of the husband or that of the wife?  Do share below.


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