[By Tina Koyama in Seattle] On March 3, 2020, we had already begun hearing about the hoarding that was going on in stores – shelves emptied of staples like bread, milk, rice and, inexplicably, toilet paper. Stocking up but resisting the urge to hoard, we shopped at Trader Joe’s as we usually do, unaware then that it would be our last trip there for more than 14 months.
Yesterday we finally returned – the first in-store shopping trip of our post-vaccination life. As Rip Van Winkle continued to rub the sleep from bleary eyes, I had to concede that not much had changed (we missed the free coffee and food samples, of course). Most of our favorite TJ’s products were still there, and we discovered a few new (at least to us) things to try. We carefully followed the one-way arrows on the floor that were largely ignored by other shoppers. They had probably long ago figured out how to efficiently navigate the aisles during a pandemic.
Checking out, we had to be reminded by the clerk to wait within the circled area to stay safely out of the way of others. Embarrassed, we told him that it was our first shopping trip in 14 months, so we hadn’t learned the rules yet. He welcomed us back “out,” and we thanked him for his service all year while we had stayed safely at home.
With frozen foods in our bags, I couldn’t take the time to sketch then, but I made a separate trip today to make this sketch. Seattle’s University District Trader Joe’s dark, dreary storefront is not the kind I would typically want to sketch. But it was important to me to commemorate this event.