Grocery Shopping In The Apocalypse

Me in a fully stocked grocery store, wearing what is presumably a giraffe patterned camouflage mask.

I went to the grocery store last night to gather the usual apocalypse supplies of almond flour, coconut flour, apple cider vinegar, and jalapeno-flavored pork rinds.  As one does.  What am I making with that stuff?  I could be making Keto bread rolls.  I could be recreating a type of industrial-strength spackle used by the Ancient Egyptian pyramid builders.  It could be for an extra gooey plastic explosive that Macgyver would make: just add duct tape, Twinkies, and bubble gum.  You don’t know.  It’s a mystery!

(It’s Keto bread rolls).

At the store I noticed how much calmer, more serene, and less crowded it was compared to three months ago.  When the lockdowns and quarantines began, I remember the grocery stores were packed with people.  People who were rabidly and furiously panic buying mass quantities of different products like roles of bunghole wadding, toilet brushes, and pork chops.

While grocery shopping last night, the atmosphere at the store was more orderly and socially-distanced than the chaos of that earlier age (three months ago).  The store had installed those plastic sneeze shields at the registers, all of the employees and most of the other customers wore masks, and there was no longer a Roman style bath house in the produce section.  Actually, I’m kidding.  The communal bath house was still there.  You just had to book an appointment instead of cannon-balling in.  Safety first!  

There were even signs reminding people not to lick the shopping cart handles before leaving.

One particular thing I grew curious about was the rice and toilet paper aisels.  In March and April this grocery store, and all of them around the world, were consistently devoid of these things.  As you can see from the picture below, the rice and toilet paper have returned to their natural habitats.  Isn’t it interesting what happens when people stop hoarding and panic buying rolls of excrement exfoliators?

Rice and toilet paper in their natural habitats.

However, the grocery store being less crowded and more orderly doesn’t mean that everything is A-okay.  There’s still a lot of danger going on in this world, so I thought I would write a few helpful tips on how you can survive your next journey to the epicenter of caloric commodity consumption:  The Grocery Store!

Arrival and Scouting:

When you first pull into the grocery store parking lot, don’t just rush into the building.  That’s an amateur move.  First, you need to properly scout the perimeter to check for any ambushes, booby traps, survey takers, and The Predator.  I recommend getting yourself some infrared goggles.  They work the best.

Proper Cart Selection and Sanitization:

Choosing the best shopping cart for your supply run of Doritos and beer is crucial.  You’ll want a shopping cart that comes pre-equipped with a battering ram and retractable wheel spikes.  They do exist.  You just have to check the back of the cart row.  Some grocery stores may also have a shopping cart that has a mount for a .50 caliber machine gun.  You know…in case of zombies.  Sadly though, you’ll have to bring your own machine gun.  Also, don’t forget to bring a spray bottle of hand sanitizer to spritz the handles of the cart, because as we all know, people lick those things!  Safety first.

Stick to the List:

Write a shopping list and adhere to it.  The more time you spend in the store, the more dangerous it can become for you.  You may encounter a wandering pack of toilet paper hoarders.  Or you may succumb to the delights of the free sample section at the bakery the way a sailor succumbs to the siren’s song, thereby remaining trapped in the grocery store for eternity.  Or worse yet, you may fall victim to hungry impulse buying and acquire twenty five bags of Chips Ahoy, a pallet of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and an apple (because health).  So stick to your list!  And we all know that making a shopping list and adhering to it can save money.

Be A Mad Max Road Warrior In The Aisles:

Use the battering ram that’s fastened to the front of your shopping cart (mentioned above), and treat each of the grocery store’s aisles like a gauntlet of dangers.  Because it is.  In between the frozen pizzas and discount lawn chairs are lanes with pit traps full of vipers, roving bands of mutated, post-apocalyptic marauders adorned in spiked, football shoulder pads, and those people that leave their carts perpendicular in the aisles, knowingly impeding everyone else’s shopping experience because they can’t decide which brand of coffee filters to buy.  Your battering ram will plow those people out of the way quite nicely.  

The Barter And Currency Exchange:

Once you’ve successfully filled your armored push trolley with the goods and foodstuffs that will get you through your next game night or tupperware party, you must approach the checkout station to pay for your goods with the checkout guardian.  It’s good to call ahead of time to see if your grocery store accepts bartering in place of cash.  If not, then you won’t have to bring a crate of live chickens and a coconut to trade with if you don’t have to.  Whether you’re bartering or paying for your groceries with the local currency, remember to treat the checkout person with the utmost respect.  They deal with all manner of self-entitled jerks every day, and they are also the last gatekeeper you must pass by if you want to escape back into the wastelands of suburbia. Kindness and respect will get you far with people.  Especially with the checkout guardians.  Otherwise they might pull out a rocket launcher.

I hope you enjoyed reading my silly little guide above, and can get some advice and insight from it.  In all seriousness with the times we’re in, be safe and healthy, and also be considerate of everyone around you at the grocery store.  That means wear your mask, don’t overbuy products that other people also need by sticking to your shopping list, and treat your fellow shoppers, and especially the store employees, with kindness and respect.  This may be the new normal for now, but it won’t last forever.  How long this all lasts is up to everyone and how we all behave.  But eventually, humanity will prevail over this pandemic.

And then we can return to the great things we used to do before the self-isolation and quarantines began: Playing eleven straight hours of video games, binge-watching Netflix shows, and stuffing our faces with glorious junk food and tacos.