Monday, June 28, 2021

Sobbing At The Salad Bar

[“Let Inga Tell You,” La Jolla Light, published June 28, 2021] ©2021

Who knew that June 15, California's official alleged re-opening, would be the happiest day I’ve had in 15 months?  I went to Gelson’s to shop for dinner and was happy to see no cart guys. Nobody spraying anything.  No masks required for customers.

Then a few steps further inside, I saw it, like a mirage in the Sahara.  The salad bar was back.

I actually started crying.  OK, my husband doesn’t call me the Grim Weeper for nothing. But I truly thought salad bars were going to become permanently-retired relics of the past, along with blowing out birthday cake candles and shaking hands. We’d tell our great-grandchildren about them and they’d say, “Seriously? People touched each other? There was food that wasn’t plastic-wrapped?”

Pre-pandemic, Gelson’s fabulous salad bar, along with their hot food bar and soup station, were mainstays of my life.  At the salad bar, you could get exactly how much you wanted of about 50 different salad ingredients, freshly replenished multiple times daily, with a choice of six dressings as well.  I blame my 22 pounds of Covid weight on the loss of that salad bar.  Also from not socially distancing myself from my refrigerator.  But especially the salad bar.

I guess sometimes you don’t appreciate what you have until you don’t have it.  Covid has given us all more opportunities to experience this than we ever wanted.  Like most people, I got the message after three months. Didn’t need another whole year of Appreciating How Good I Had It Before - especially about masks.

Let me be clear that I did, and will continue to, wear masks when required (or someone specifically asks). But for those of us who wear glasses, unloading the mask requirement in most locations was right up there with the salad bar.  For more than a year, I’ve felt like I’ve been rendered legally blind with fogged-up eye wear. It’s amazing I haven’t fallen and broken my hip. In my age group, that often leads to pneumonia and death. Either way, it seemed like I had “respirator” written across my forehead.

We all developed our own comfort zones over the last 15 months about personal boundaries. By definition, anyone whose standards are more lax than yours is a risk-taking idiot. And those folks who are still standing in their back yard wearing masks as they water the tomatoes might as well have gotten Covid for all the quality of life they have (in some of our opinions).

Let me just clarify that my husband and I have probably been less impacted by Covid 19 than 99% of Americans.  We’re retired. Nobody we knew died of Covid.  In fact, no one we even knew contracted it.

Regardless, there are some things I am just totally over.

At this point, I can’t even bear to hear the C words (Covid or coronavirus) or the V words (vaccine and variant).

In various mindfulness classes I have taken over the years, the power of visualization has been emphasized as a way to manage stress.  So when someone other than a doctor’s office says, “have you been vaccinated?” I can visualize myself inflicting some major act of violence on them.  It allows me to continue to smile the whole time. 

Forty-two million doses of vaccine have now been administered in California. Watching the evening news, I think I’ve personally witnessed every single one of them.

I’ve written about the 30+ hour slog it was to get appointments for Olof and me, only to have them repeatedly cancelled.  I feared that as younger and more computer-savvy groups became eligible, it would be harder and harder to get appointments. They’d be giving shots to offshore infants and we’d still be hitting Refresh.

Turns out, we could have gotten a free ticket to Six Flags and a $50 gift card if we’d waited long enough. Now, those once-elusive vaccine folks are begging us to show up.  In another month, they’ll probably be offering foot rubs and a glass of Pinot along with the shot. I’m guessing all those people who waited five hours in their cars to get into PetCo Park are feeling Refresh Rage right now. 

Initially I wore latex gloves at the supermarket, and washed my hands a lot. But I lived for those two trips a week to Gelson’s and a weekly jaunt to CVS. If I lived in a locked-down retirement home, I would have broken out early on.

Plenty of people we know are more comfortable continuing to wear masks which is fine with us. We, however, hoped getting vaccinated would allow us to start living a freer life. As we experienced during this past year with a family friend, Covid isn’t the only horrible thing you can die of.

It’s been emphasized that Covid has probably never going to completely disappear.  Its future course is still unknown.  But as long as Gelson’s salad bar is back, I can live with it.


               Gelsons's salad bar miraculously re-appears.  Was it a mirage?


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