Day 38 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

I was giddy with excitement! It seemed incredibly supercilious to actually order groceries online. But I did it anyway. Despite feeling more hoity-toity than my Midwestern upbringing taught me I was entitled to feel, I did it.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020 – Live to Blog and Singing “Stayin’ Alive” (Ooh, ooh, ooh) because I can’t get it out of my head


Truthfully, the BeeGees is my least favorite act of all time. I don’t know who told them they’d sound better singing in strained falsettos but they were horribly wrong! I’d rather babysit a screaming toddler all night or go mall shopping for a full day at the height of Black Friday than listen to one of their ear-piercing screeches. Unfortunately, this one gets stuck in my head occasionally. Get it out! Get it out! Ugh!

Tom vs. Instacart

I was so excited! Last Saturday we discovered that our favorite grocery store, Aldi, delivered! We live in the middle of one of Maryland’s “hotspots” for COVID-19 so we had been debating what to do about groceries. We have carefully avoided going out, except to walk the Girls fully masked up (us, not the Girls), for over two weeks. However, we were running low on groceries. Decision time: Would we risk going to the grocery store this week?

Holy cow! Aldi delivers! Could it get any better than this!

We were plotting our incursion into Aldi by reviewing the website and making our grocery list. As my cursor hovered over “Shop Now,” the two magic words suddenly appeared in the dropdown menu…Grocery Delivery. I clicked and was whisked into a magical place where I could convert our list into an actual grocery order, pay for it, and set up the delivery schedule.

I could hardly contain myself! It seemed incredibly supercilious to actually order groceries online. But I did it anyway. Despite feeling more hoity-toity than my Midwestern upbringing taught me I was entitled to feel, I did it. I did it because our priority has been to remain as isolated as possible. Wow! What a feeling!

Turns out the delivery is handled by Instacart but that’s fine…as long as the groceries are from Aldi. Once the order was finished, I set it up for delivery between noon and 2:00 PM today. I’ve been like a kid waiting for the start of the curling season ever since! (What? You mean curling isn’t your favorite sport? I suppose its cornhole?)

Finally, today arrived. I was up early so I could be ready to meet the delivery. By 8:00 AM I was pacing back and forth to the window, checking out every car I heard drive by. Then, at 9:00 AM, I got my first text message about the delivery. It said, “Forget anything? Add items now! Shopping will begin soon for your Noon-2:00 PM order.” I rushed to the computer to check the order.

Of course, there were a couple more things I needed to add. We had underestimated some supplies on Saturday when we first placed the order. So, I made the adusments and hit the button that said, “Add to order.” Oh, man, I couldn’t believe it! Twice in one week! I was so proud!

At 10:46 AM I got another text heralding the near arrival of our order: “Aldi is on the way! Delivery estimate – 11:00 AM.” Five minutes later, at 10:51, there it was…early! It had arrived! (We are less than a mile from Aldi.) Clemencia and I went downstairs to meet the delivery. What a sweet delivery team! A young woman, wearing a mask and gloves, and her brother (whom she had recruited for the day), also wearing a mask and gloves. It was great!

Clemencia noticed the young woman was wearing a paper mask that had difficulty staying in place (her brother had an N95 mask), so she offered her a clothe mask she had recently made. While she retrieved one, I watched over the groceries, beaming with pride for my shopping prowess, and chatted – at an appropriate physical distance – with the young woman and her brother. Once Clemencia returned with the masks and we said goodbye, we took the groceries up to our unit and put everything away.

The shopping completed, with extraordinary efficency, I settled into work again.

At 11:31 AM, I got another text: “Aldi is on the way! Delivery estimate – 11:45 AM.”

“That can’t be right,” I said to Bert and Ernie, who looked up at me and rolled their eyes. “Must be a software glitch. They were just here.”

At 11:41 AM, I got another text: “Your Instacart Shopper here. I’m outside.” I ran to Clemencia’s office, leaping with extraordinary grace over the sleeping Girls.

  • Me: Instacart is here again.
  • Clemencia: Instacart?
  • Me: Yes, remember, they deliver for Aldi.
  • Clemencia: What are they doing back here?
  • Me: I don’t know, mi amor. I’m about to find out. Do you want to join me?
  • Clemencia: Sure.

We donned our masks again and headed downstairs. When we arrived we saw a different car with two young men in it. The young men started climbing out of their car and, as we walked toward the car, I saw Clemencia’s eyes begin to bug out and the Lip Pointing beginning. The driver had no mask nor gloves. His passenger had on a mask but no gloves. Oh, my! This wasn’t going to be good…or it was going to be really good!

We got near the back of the car and here’s how it went down:

  • Clemencia (to the young man without the mask and gloves): I need you to back away from the trunk. We need to see the groceries you have. (Unmasked Man doesn’t budge, just looks confused; I have to admit it did started off sounding like an undercover drug bust).
  • Clemencia (more directly): You aren’t wearing a mask. We are older people and you should be wearing a mask to deliver these things. We are having Instacart deliver so we don’t risk infection or infecting others but here you are without a mask and gloves. I need you to step away from the car so I can see what you have brought us. (You just don’t mess with former CDC EIS people in the midst of pandemic.)
  • Unmasked Man: Oh, sorry. (Backs away and checks his pocket for a mask…which he realizes he left in the car.)
  • Me (to the Unmasked Man): Aren’t these the same groceries we just got?
  • Unmasked Man: I don’t know. You got other groceries from Aldi?
  • Me: Yes, about 45 minutes ago.
  • Unmasked Man: Oh.
  • Clemencia: It looks like the same order.
We seem to have plenty of milk now…

Then, it hit me. Earlier in the day when I was adding things to the Saturday order I thought I was supposed to click the button under the whole list that said, “Add to Order.” So I did. Turns out, I…uh… duplicated the order.

  • Me (sheepishly): Uh, mi amor, I think I know what happened.
  • Clemencia: Que, que?
  • Me: I think I accidently duplicated the order.
  • Clemencia’s lips said (long pause…a really long pause): That’s okay, mi amor. These things happen. It was the first time we tried this. We’ll find a place for everything. (Smiles) We won’t have to shop for a month now. (But her eyes said, “Que gueva!“)
and eggs.

While we made the two young men stand about 30 feet away, we took the bags our of the car and made our way to the door. The Unmasked Man ran to hold the door open for us. Clemencia stopped him in his tracks, “Stop there! Don’t come any closer to us! We are fine!” He retreated apologetically…I think he also saw the “Que gueva!” in her eyes.

P.S. We tipped both delivery teams well. If you use Instacart, please do the same. In this way you honor the people who take the risks on your behalf.

Chickenman – Episode 7

Benton Harbor (aka Chickenman, the Weekend Winged Warrior) tangles with a hot plate in the Police Commissioner’s office.

Working with Nonprofit Boards in the Midst of Crisis

Meet my friend and colleague Charles Weathers of The Weathers Group. Charles, Patrick Jinks, Cayci Banks, Forrest Alton, and I wrote a blog and brief paper in late March/early April. Patrick has been featuring each of us in interviews during the month of April (I’m up for next week). The videos give us a chance to go deeper with the ideas we published in that blog and paper. In today’s video, Charles talks with Patrick about nonprofit board leadership during a time of crisis. The advice is practical, timely, and immediately useful. Take a few minutes now to meet Charles and to think with him about how to more effectively lead a nonprofit board or serve on a nonprofit board.

Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing your mask, and beware the “Add to Order” button at the bottom of your grocery order.


Author: The Driveler

Tom Klaus is the Driveler. On March 16, 2020, the first day of the Novel Coronavirus shelter-in-place order for his state, he started writing a daily blog to keep himself from stressing too much about the pandemic situation. He thought the daily blogging would last for only a couple of week but it stretched on to 77 consecutive days. Then he continued writing daily for a while after that as well. At some point the blog became The Daily Drivel...mostly because he was mostly writing the stream of consciousness drivel that was pouring out of his head, running down his face, and, sometimes, out of his mouth. In November 2020 he launched The Daily Drivel as a free-standing website/blog.

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