Pandemic shopping resembles “Supermarket Sweep”

By Brittany Bridgeforth
Pulse Staff Editor

Photo of Sam’s customers lining up to shop. Photo by Brittany Bridgeforth.

It’s 6:19 a.m. on Saturday, March 28. I’m late. I call my aunt and assure her I’ll be there to get her in about 15 minutes to grocery shop at Sam’s. I arrive for her at 6:31 a.m., and we speed off.

The store doesn’t open until 9 a.m, yet we are in line at 6:45 a.m. We are standing behind a gentleman who is coughing. I nudge my aunt to make space between him and her since I felt a bit uneasy standing directly behind him. As we stand outside in the muggy, humid and wet weather waiting for the store to open, the line is starting to wrap around the building. It’s beginning to feel like it’s Black Friday.

Prior to entering the building, my 61-year-old aunt, a secretary for University Hospital at the Medical Center, is making a plan.

“First thing we are going to do is go for the toilet paper,” she said.

I agree. During this pandemic, toilet paper, eggs, paper towels and sanitation products seem to be at the top of everyone’s household list. With many people needing these items, it has also caused chaos in stores. With these items being so limited, many go to the extent of taking items from other people’s baskets. 

Madonna Longoria shared her experience with me at an H-E-B on the northeast side of San Antonio. 

“They brought out a couple boxes of toilet paper. A lady took it from my basket,”said Longoria. 

As we make our plans, a lady, who is expecting a baby soon, and her husband assure us that this will go by quickly. They have done this days prior. 

As we wait, an employee approaches, enforcing the CDC guidelines. All of us anxious shoppers are asked to keep 6 feet of distance from one another. As we do so, I ask my aunt if she would like to sit in the car for an hour. By this time it was 7:22 a.m. She refused and said she would stand with the cart.

Photo of customers waiting in rain to enter Sam’s.
Customers waiting in rain to enter Sam’s. Photos by Brittany Bridgeforth

Patiently waiting, we are fifteenth in line. We still have an hour and four minutes to go. As I sit in my vehicle, more and more people are arriving, some wearing gloves and masks. They join the line that is now being twisted between rows of pallets.

I give my aunt a flash of my headlights to get her attention and let her know it is 8 a.m. I’m not quite sure what that would do, but maybe I thought it would get her prepared. I exit my car at 8:50 a.m. and it begins. We make it into the store with the first wave of shoppers since they are only allowing 25 people in at a time.

As we enter, I lead us to the toilet paper and paper towels per my aunt’s plan, and everyone else’s, as well. You are limited to one per household. I grab mine and she gets hers, then we are off to grab other essentials: diapers, detergent and snacks.

Feeling like a contestant from “Supermarket Sweep,” we finally get to check out. We load the car and the time is now 10:34 a.m. As we head to my aunt’s home to unload and put the items away, we definitely were exhausted.

As a wife, mother of four, working a full-time job from home and taking college classes, home schooling is an adjustment of its own. Having to get up before the sun rises and spend four hours to get groceries is not something I ever thought I’d have to do.

Those who are buying just to hoard supplies are definitely what is stirring the pot for those of us who aren’t panic buying/hoarding. It causes a frenzy, and everyone feels they have to do the same.

There is plenty to go around with no need to buy more than you need. Many stores have protocols in place that prevents hoarding and safety. Let’s work together. 

Remember what we were all taught and continue to teach ours kids: Sharing is caring. We shall recover from this.