Navigating a COVID world

Everyone needs to make their own decision about how much they will quarantine and in our case we have definitely been more isolated than many.  Lee has been concerned about getting COVID because he was a long time smoker and has a heart condition, and in order to support that I rarely left the compound.  Like most people though it has left me feeling incredibly restless, made all the more difficult by the fact that personally I don’t worry that much about getting sick.  I think its extremely important to protect other people though, but as they opened up Texas it became harder and harder to sit at home.

The reality is that in this lifestyle what one of us does has a significant impact on the other.  There is no space to social distance from each, and unlike when we had a house we can’t sleep in separate beds or take over separate areas of the house.  My choices are his choices and vice versa and that has been brought home during this crisis.  For example, we had a plan for Lee to work in South Dakota this summer, but after learning the specifics of the safety measures they were willing to take and the fact that Lee would come into contact with hundreds of people a day, he ultimately decided not to go.  I completely understand that decision, but obviously it also impacts me as we will be staying in Texas through the summer.  It gets hot down here, and for folks that like to follow the weather I think we will have some challenges. Don’t get me wrong, we are both incredibly grateful to have a place to stay, but we were also looking forward to a summer in the badlands, where the elevation keeps in cooler. Plus we were looking forward to a summer of exploring the region and just generally “getting back to normal”.

Before he made his decision we had a somewhat heated conversation about what this looks like over the next several months.  Essentially I have felt it was important to stay at home to avoid putting others at risk, but if Texas was going to throw themselves wide open I wasn’t willing to stay on strict lockdown for the next several months.  Unfortunately that puts him at risk, and we were having trouble finding common ground.  Ultimately Lee agreed that if Texas had 14 consecutive days of declining new cases he would be OK with higher risk activities (ie: haircut, etc).  In the interim he has been softer about me taking short trips out as long as I am masked, gloved, and try to maintain social distancing.

I have spent the last few days going to several places and it has been such a mixed bag of experiences I wanted to share them with you.  Keep in mind we are in Texas where the laws are relatively loose but this may show you what things look like when those rules are loosened.  Here is a summation of those experiences in no particular order.

  1. Home Depot – I intentionally went at 10:30 am on a Friday hoping that I would beat the crowds, but the parking lot was mostly full.  I couldn’t enter through the garden center but instead walked down to a tent and then in the front doors where an employee was keeping track of the number of people.  My main issue with that approach was the employee was not wearing a mask, and I had trouble keeping 6 feet from people when I went in the door.  I made an immediate left and went into the garden center and picked my tomato plants, two pots and soil.  All of the elderly people I saw wore masks and most of the people my age but none of the employees were masked at all.  This particularly bothered me when I came to checkout.  Although there were no lines painted we all naturally fell into a six foot distance pattern, but unmasked people kept cutting through the line.  At least 4 different people did this in the short time I was standing there which kind of defeated the purpose.  The check out person didn’t have a mask either and did not stay behind the plastic.  Mixed experience but I am happy with the tomato plants I bought.

I bought two heat resistant plants I have never heard of. Summer set and solar free. Hope they taste good because all in it cost about $58.

2. Spring Creek Gardens – Unfortunately Home depot didn’t have grape tomato plans so on Mothers Day Cori and I ran up to a local nursery.  It was a very nice place and had beautiful landscape plants but unfortunately hardly any good vegetable plants.  I did get two scrawny grape tomatoes plants but couldn’t find any inexpensive pots.  Worse, only one person there had a mask on.  Yes it was mostly outside, but people were close to each other and social distancing wasn’t always possible.  Plus there were kids because there was a petting zoo which worried me more. We left as quick as we could and again the employees had no masks or gloves.


3. Dollar General –  I didn’t think I could handle Home Depot on a Sunday so we stopped at Dollar General to see if they had pots.  Not only did they have a nice selection but about half the people were masked, the aisles were relatively clear, the checkout line had spacing lines for people to stand, and the cashier had a mask and Plexiglas.   I was thrilled to see they were being safe and will definitely be going back!

4. Whataburger – I was hungry after stopping at Home Depot and went through the drive-thru for a sandwich.  I was pleased to see everyone had a mask and gloves and they have not opened their dining room yet despite being allowed for 25% capacity.  I felt completely comfortable and the food was great!

5. Pizza Hut –  In complete contrast on another visit I saw that they were doing curbside drop off for Pizza hut and decided to give that a try.  I haven’t been to Pizza Hut since this entire thing got started and when I tried to social distance they looked at me like I was crazy.  Since they now have curbside drop off I decided to give it a try.  I was only there for a minute or so when the door opened and the same employee from last time walked to my vehicle.  He was holding my pizza box which now has a sealed tag on it, but he had no mask or gloves.  He walked right up to the driver side window and I quickly put my mask on.  He was less than two feet from me and handed me the box and then asked me if I wanted to tip the cook.  I stated I did not and left fuming.  That was twice in a row I had a bad experience and I would not eat that pizza until I could recook it.  I also filled out a COVID specific online survey about the experience and was scathing in my scores.  I rarely do that, but I like Pizza Hut and hate that I don’t feel comfortable eating from there because they are not following their own policies.

6.  City of Gruene – Another day Lee and I ran over to New Braunfels to run a couple of errands and on the way we passed through the tourist town of Gruene. We were both really surprised to see that the town was packed with tourists and only one person had a mask.  All the small boutique shops were open and there was absolutely no social distancing going on.  We didn’t even get out of the car.

7.  Sea Island – When we got to New Braunfels we stopped for pickup of Sea Island.  I absolutely adore their shrimp and although it is a long drive I have wanted it for a couple of months.  I was surprised that their parking lot was very full but we did managed to snag one of the spots that said for pickup.  I had ordered on their app, and wasn’t sure how to tell them I was there so I asked an employee but he said to go inside to get my carryout.  That defeated the purpose so I called the number I saw on the sign and they did bring the order out right away.  The employees were masked and I did not need to go inside, but I didn’t feel great about how full the parking lot was.  I thought restaurants were on 25% capacity but it definitely seemed like there were more people than that.

8.  Auto Zone – Lastly we went to Auto Zone for Lee to pick up a car part.  He masked up and went inside and came out very angry.  Not one person in the store was masked and the cashier gave him attitude when Lee kept backing away because the employee was standing too close.  The person handled his purchase and receipt without gloves and the credit card terminal wasn’t clean at all. Lee didn’t see any lines at all for social distancing in line.  He was so upset that when he came home he wrote an email to the company.  It wasn’t just the complete lack of measures that bothered him but the lack of respect for his safety, and the fact that their website has lots of specific things they are “doing” but they’re not actually doing any of those things.  As he stated in the email he can order every product they have online from Amazon, and next time that is exactly what he will do.

So it was a mixed bag of experiences over a three day period.  I was really happy in all those cases where companies were attempting to keep people safe and really angry when they weren’t.  The anger isn’t so much for myself but for those people who are stuck in their homes because folks won’t follow some simple recommendations.  I want to get out and spend a little money like anyone else but I am going to have to be very choosy about what places allow me to do that.  I say allow because they are making a choice and I get to make mine. And for those of you who may think I am making some sort of political statement, please keep in mind that the major principle of capitalism is I get to choose where to spend my money. 🙂

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15 thoughts on “Navigating a COVID world

  1. As the spouse of someone at high risk I understand your frustration! I’m in North Carolina and it sounds like they may be not as ignorant here as many do wear masks, but everywhere there are exceptions. Prayers to you both and stay healthy.

  2. Hi Donna: an article from an RV blogger about her experiences in going to stores in Texas. People not wearing masks is ugly!!

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. Tracy – I really appreciate your post concerning your experiences running errands. And I did not think it was political at all – just your honest feedback. We are in New Mexico where things are still in lockdown, so we are only venturing out for curbside pickup of groceries and curbside pickup of take out food. Fortunately these experiences have been positive (employees have had masks on, and have agreed to leave bags and back away. But while waiting, we have noticed several customers going into stores and restaurants without masks, and not staying 6 feet from other people.

    Unfortunately, I fear that as many states open up, the positive cases are likely to spike, and regional lockdowns will be reinstated. We had plans to travel this summer and fall (with our RV) through Utah, Idaho, Oregon and Washington, and rendezvous with different friends, but have canceled all of those plans. We are starting to think that we will be staying we are for several months – social distancing – until either good tests show that we have antibodies (and our Doctor tells us that he thinks antibodies = immunity) or until a vaccine is available. This is not ideal – but we also live full time in our RV and have some of the same concerns that you discussed, should one of us get sick. BTW – We are ordering a lot of items that we need online and are having them delivered to the RV Park. Stay Safe.

  4. We are in Kansas, near KC and May 3 they began their tiered opening of the state. One of the first steps includes opening restaurants at 10% capacity, to our surprise we have seen only one restaurant open for inside seating, that was nice. Most customers at Home Depot, Lowes and Menard’s are practicing the 6′ rule, the cashiers have the plexiglass shields and at Menard’s masks are mandantory and children under 16 are not permitted in the store. So as anxious as we are to have some freedom we are happy what is happening in our area. Stay safe! Becki

  5. We are in Florida and since we keep hearing the same behaviors, we haven’t actually gone anywhere since March 16th, besides a scenic drive about a half hour away.

    We do delivery for everything (grocery, pharmacy, everything RV/house related) and so far that’s worked really well. We’ve also done takeout once. I know not everyone is lucky enough to be in a spot to do that, but I’m thankful we can. It just stinks to be fulltime RVers staying in Florida humidity all summer – and I’m sorry you will have to do the same! We canceled our plans to go back to NH for the summer. Still waiting to see what happens before deciding on the fall.

  6. I am in Texas also and mostly remain at home because I don’t think it is safe to venture out and I have a 90 year old mother at home. I am curious where do you check for information on the covid cases in Texas. I also want to see “14 consecutive days of declining new cases.” Thanks so much for sharing your experience. Stay safe.

  7. What is clearly evident in your post is that a lot of people in Texas have gone insane. This is true elsewhere. I don’t get how hard it is to put on a mask. Yeah they can be a pain, hard to breath through blah blah blah. but dammit… it’s not forever…. the fashion police are not coming to get the mask offenders. Of course maybe it as simple as how do you enforce wearing a mask, so the idiots brazen flout the order as their tiny way of being a rebel against the “man”. It’s the “murican” way. Freedumb!

    Be safe, take precautions… don’t give in to peer pressure. Do what you gotta do!

    • You really think this virus is going to go away? Well it’s not. And I will not live the rest of my life in paranoia. I will not wear a mask. I smoked for 35yrs and had a heart attack and over 60. If I get sick so be it. Would rather live than hide.

      • That’s complexly your choice Ken but I will share with you that if you die from this you will die alone. No one will be able to sit at your bedside because you will be quarantined.

      • Yes it will go away …. caveat… someday when it cannot find a host without the needed antibodies to fight it. Sooner or later that will happen. I’m notsaying this year or next because you simply cannot pin down a date, but someday. It’s not fear. It practicality. Humans are already living way past their natural lifespan so every day past 50 is as gift in that context. But why take unnecessary chances? Could this whole have been handled better? Yyou bet. You WILL wear a mask to do many things or you simply will not be allowed to enter or participate… That will be policy set by the business, gov’t or activity… that is THEIR RIGHT to decide and there is nothing you can do about it if you want to be there. Just as it is your right to shun them if you disagree. If you choose to ignore common sense and in fact get the virus, and if you succumb to the worst outcome… as Trace says… you will be all alone at the end… make your peace with that. Your choice.

  8. We are in California and it’s fairly densely populated here in Sacramento. Every store I’ve been in (Target, Walmart, TJ’s) has distance lines on the floors, monitoring of how many people go in and out, and a mix of people wearing masks and those not. Some people seem clueless and ignore the lines and get right up in your space while others are obviously trying hard to keep their distance. As of this week, every employee I’ve encountered has worn a mask. Where it’s really strict is the Commissary and Base Exchange. They require a mask and are quick to tell you to back off if you are too close to someone in line to check out. They provide a mask if you don’t have one and they clean all the cart handles. We do most of our shopping there.

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