Normally I don’t shop at Wegmans on Saturday mornings, when the markets are very crowded. This Saturday morning, March 21, I ventured to our local Wegmans to pick up about a dozen items. COVID-19 (not the Chinese virus!) is changing just about every aspect of our daily lives. But food shopping is essential. Markets, small and large, continue to serve the public. I washed my hands before leaving the house, wore gloves in the market, and washed my hands when I returned home.
Anyone that has shopped at a Wegmans anywhere knows that Wegmans pursues excellence. I love entering a Wegmans market anywhere—there is an immediate sense of “this is what a supermarket should be.” The parking lot was nicely full, but perhaps not as full as on a normal Saturday morning.
My first observation was in the parking lot. I wasn’t the only person carrying re-useable shopping bags. Up until just over a month ago, I often felt like the only one doing so. And the people leaving the market weren’t using plastic bags. New York State passed a law against the use of single-use plastic bags last year that went into effect just over a month ago. What a difference! People are using re-useable bags. Laws do not change human hearts; they were never meant to and never will. But they do change human behavior at some level. Not 100% (some people will always cheat or ignore laws), but laws and regulations make a difference. We have seen it in cigarette smoking patterns and in seat belt and child-seat use. Laws change behavior patterns. Government regulations can make life better and safer.
The second thing I noted was in the market. People were not getting close to each other, but they were acting friendly and respectful. The Wegmans employees are known for their helpfulness and cheerfulness, but it is highlighted in such a time. My check-out person said the usual words with a friendly smile. I also noticed that a good number of employees were carefully sanitizing shelves, freezer doors, and basket handles, all of them wearing gloves.
This is the second weekend in which I will not be worshiping in a setting with people gathered around me. That doesn’t seem right, but it is the right action for now. While I will miss gathered worship tomorrow morning, I will worship God in other ways. In some way, I am glad that in the midst of this crisis, there are ways to do some of the normal and routine activities of life. Like shopping at Wegmans. With hands washed and gloves on.