Joey and Sami arrived at the shopping center, but first turned right instead of left and pulled into the McDonald's drive-thru line. It was a fairly short line. The two quickly ordered there food and then went to Kelso Beach just past the store and down a hill toward the outskirts of town. There they ate their fast food in silence, quickly devouring their meal. Neither had eaten breakfast that day. Sami wasn't eating much in general anyway; her stomach was always feeling like a mess, causing digestive issues and nausea. Once finished eating, the two headed back up to the plaza where they turned into the grocery store parking lot. “You got a list?” Joey asked as they stepped out of the truck. “Yup,” Sami answered as she showed off a little piece of paper. “You have a dollar for the shopping cart?” Standing outside the door now, Joey looked through his pants pockets. After a minute of searching that turned into a frantic mess of worry that he'd forgotten, he pulled out a dollar coin and smiled jokingly, hoping for a happy response from Sami. She just scowled, unimpressed with his silliness. He rolled his eyes behind her back and slammed the truck door shut before putting on his cloth mask. Outside the old store was a long line of people, all six feet apart, or more in some cases. Everyone wore their masks, some cloth such as Joey and Sami wore, and some were the disposable blue ones. Still others wore shields over their faces, or wore scarves. A few middle aged women were wearing gloves. It was a unique sight to see. The feeling throughout was ominous. There was no smiling, no greeting each other. Some people scolded a mother who had her two small children accompanying her. As if that was fair, with daycares and schools closed, what was a mother supposed to do? Hiring a babysitter was out of the question in a time like this. If she wasn't an essential worker, there was no way she could find a facility to take her child. And if her husband was away working, or she was a single mom, how was she supposed to get food and necessities without bringing her children along? Leaving them in vehicles was against the law. Parks were closed. Sami felt empathy and sympathy for the woman. There were no options, and people were criticising her like she had many that she just wasn't accepting. The world was becoming unreasonable and unfair. The woman's youngest had to be two, and wasn't forced under regulations to wear a mask in public. Yet that didn't stop people from telling her to get a mask on that child. The indecency of people was disheartening, and burdened Sami's already sad heart. It just wasn't fair in the least. Damned if you do, and damned if you don't, Sami thought to herself. “People are awful,” Sami observed to Joey as they moved up in the line, the mother of the two kids finally getting her turn to go into the grocery store. At the exit was an employee who was keeping track of all the people that were coming and going. Only a certain percentage of customers were allowed in at a time. Stores that were still allowed to be open were only permitted about 25% capacity to ensure that people could keep adequate distance apart from each other. And if they weren't wearing a mask, they weren't allowed due to noncompliance. Inside her chest, Sami could feel her heart pounding. Only two more people were in front of them before it was their turn to enter the store. Joey grabbed a cart casually and returned back to his partner, putting a hand on her for reassurance. “They are, aren't they? That poor mother didn't deserve that.” “No, she didn't. She was just trying to get food for her family.” As they waited a little longer in the line, having already waited for about fifteen minutes, an older woman came out of the store with just three things in her hands. Several standing around scoffed and shook their heads. The idea was, lately, that you didn't go to the store unless you absolutely needed things. Coming out of the store, you better have several bags full of things with you to qualify your trip as essential. Luckily, people weren't kicked out because they only needed a few things for their pantry. Again, Sami was embarrassed for the human race. Who were they to judge what was essential or not? Maybe she didn't need those things for food, but essential things included more than just meeting physical things. Maybe those products were essential for her sanity, or essential for her self esteem… both things were just as important as needing food in your stomach. In the world today, where you couldn't see your loved ones, it was essential to find something to keep you going. Be it puzzles, mind games, gardening, baking… to keep your mental health status quo, it was incredibly important to find something that could help one to accomplish that. It was just as essential. Arguing and judging otherwise was just being cruel. "Seriously," Sami rebuked.
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