12/20/2021
Out of it

A new supermarket opened a month back, and it's on the building right beside mine. A two-minute walk.

It couldn't have come in at a better time. I'm getting tired of driving a relatively short distance to my usual grocery, but don't want to walk that far anymore. I don't think my body can take it. But I also need my exercise. Oh, and I may need to stick to my budget more, what with my pay shrinking in real terms and all that.

That also means the unexpected convenience of being able to get away with going to the grocery without having to prepare like I'm going out. I mean, it's literally next door. I have done my weekly rounds wearing my home slippers. Without having taken a shower, even. I mean, I'm sure I don't smell that bad. I  also still brush my teeth.

That means having to learn a new routine on most Saturdays. I still bring the same three shopping bags, although most of the time I only use two of them. The selection isn't big, but it helps keeping me in budget. (One of the bags is an insulated one I got when someone gave me a tub of ice cream, which comes really handy when it comes to frozen items.) I don't have to take an elevator ride to the parking levels anymore. I go straight to the lobby, walk out of the entrance, walk past the parking entrance and another lobby in the same condominium complex, and I cross the street to this other building with the new grocery. And then I walk a bit more, roughly a minute. That's it. I'm in.

There are some inconveniences with the new grocery that I will get used to sooner or later. For one, everything is in a different place than what I'm used to with my usual grocery. (There is a "picnic goods" section where the trash bags are, for one.) There's also the fact that the aisles are narrower, perhaps too small for the shopping carts to make a turn without being all awkward about it. But, again, something I will get used to. It's been open for weeks and I am certainly learning my way around.

But there are some things I should have learned a long time ago. Yesterday, I did that entire routine - out the unit, down the elevator, out the building, in the grocery, and through the narrow aisles - and only when I was almost at the paltry, lonely, arguably day-old vegetable section did I realize that I was not wearing a mask.

I did learn to always have a pack of masks for this very purpose. Well, it was when my barber mistakenly cut off my mask mid-haircut, which meant I had to replace it right there and then. But I must say it's the first time I forgot to wear one since it was required everywhere almost two years ago. And I'm the guy that goes out for errands, so I should remember. But, well, I don't know. I was feeling out of it yesterday morning, and forced myself to go out because it's a routine and it might snap me out of this almost-permanent funk I found myself in.

I guess everybody else was in a funk as well. My girlfriend didn't notice I was mask-less. The security staff at the building didn't notice. The security staff at the grocery didn't notice. The guy I walked past didn't notice. Thank heavens the grocery was empty - it was rainy, after all - otherwise someone would've made a scene and told me off, at the very least. Oh, and also, please don't take this as a comment on whether mask mandates are ridiculous - I believe in them and have always thought we Filipinos should at least make it a habit when we're sick and have to be out, considering how cramped we are (in Manila, anyway) and how Hong Kong, a mask-wearing city, never seems to get that sick. The point is, nobody noticed. Are we all just out of it? Have we all just had enough of this never-ending whatever-this-really-is? Are we all just tired of all this?

Yes, I suppose so, yes.

And your responses...

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