EDITORIAL

You can’t blame it all on the pandemic

Posted 5/25/22

It was with reservation that I pulled into the Job Lot parking lot on Warwick Avenue Saturday.  It was packed. Would I be able to pick up a couple of paint brushes, roller and tray and take on …

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EDITORIAL

You can’t blame it all on the pandemic

Posted

It was with reservation that I pulled into the Job Lot parking lot on Warwick Avenue Saturday.  It was packed. Would I be able to pick up a couple of paint brushes, roller and tray and take on the next phase of preparing to launch the boat that has been covered in the yard since October, or would this turn into a frustrating wait?

I was encouraged when the glass doors opened to reveal an empty aisle. Summer apparel apparently wasn’t on shopping lists. Gardening tools, fertilizers, seeds had no takers either. Then came the patio and pool selections. Noodles were being snatched up and one woman wheeled along a plastic kiddie pool.

“Planning on beating the heat?”  I offered.

“It’s for my dog,” she replied.

These shoppers were intent on beating the heat, dressed in shorts and T-shirts. Their carriages were filled with coolers, beach towels, fans as well all that’s needed for outdoor barbecues from paper and plastic plates to all that’s needed for the grill. 

Summer was knocking with forecasts of temperatures in the 80s on Saturday and topping the 90’s on Sunday.

Thoughts of quickly returning to my work on the boat evaporated when I worked my way to the back of the store. I was greeted by line of carriages. The full parking lot now made sense. The reason I’d seen so few shoppers is that they were waiting to have their purchases tallied. I paused to see if the line advanced. It didn’t.

The initial thought was to return the items I was holding and come back later, but that didn’t make sense. It would delay my project. Going elsewhere offered no guarantee of being faster assuming, of course, I could find what I needed. 

Prior to the pandemic and the breakdown of supply chains, I had never questioned if I could find what I needed to paint the boat.  The question then was price and where could I get the best deal. It didn’t matter driving an extra 15 minutes to save 15 to 20 percent, especially when it comes to bottom paint that can cost more than $200 a gallon. Job Lot doesn’t carry boating supplies, but a paint brush is a paint brush as are paint trays and rollers. No, I’d found what I wanted. Why risk not finding them elsewhere? Besides, it would be a waste of gas. That hadn’t been of concern until another out fall of the pandemic  - inflation – hit us. 

And couldn’t this line of shoppers also be attributed to the pandemic? 

While I couldn’t see the registers, I imagined only one or two at most being open. Businesses everywhere can’t fill jobs. The stories are plentiful. People are taking early retirement, changing careers, looking to work from home and not prepared to make commitments. 

Then came another reminder of the pandemic.

The woman in front of me, who wore a mask, suggested I might want to distance myself.  She said her child had tested positive and although she and her husband tested negative, you can’t be too careful.  The woman’s mother chirped that the virus was probably picked up in school.

“It’s been ages since I’ve shopped,” said the mother adding more items to an already full cart.

Shopping deprivation, more fallout from the pandemic.

We advanced a few cart lengths, but still there was no sign of the registers when the store manager appeared. He thanked customers for their patience and then revealed the reason for the delay. It wasn’t a shortage of clerks – all the checkout lanes were open. Rather, it was the credit card readers. The manager suggested customers with cash or checks could speed through.

The woman in front of me said she had cash. Her mother was happy to hear it, adding yet a few more items to the cart.  Jokingly I asked for a loan. She laughed.

When I finally reached a register the clerk hastily tallied my total. I fed my credit card into the machine and wait and waited. The explanation for the delay made sense. Job Lots throughout the system were experiencing a wave of customers.

I felt relief. This was a phenomenon that couldn’t be traced to COVID-19.  We could blame the weather.

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