COVID-19 updates from Texas

As of today, the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, has not declared a state wide stay at home order. He is letting counties make that declaration. I live in Tarrant county. We have had over 100 cases diagnosed. It’s growing by at least 15 cases a day. Fort Worth has issued a stay at home advisory and the schools in the county are closed till further notice.

I shopped at Central Market in Fort Worth today. They are the source for a supplement I take daily that is very important to my health. (I bought two bottles, a month and a half supply.) They are very serious about keeping their customers safe from each other. I had to wait in a line outside the store, keeping at least 6 feet from everyone else. They didn’t let anyone in until someone else came out. There were decals on the floor reminding everyone how far to stay apart. When I got to the checkout, I was informed the reusable bags I had brought in, they couldn’t touch. I had to bag my own groceries. I don’t mind that. There was also an acrylic shield between the card reader and the cashier so I couldn’t cough or sneeze on them.
Central Market’s parent company is HEB. If you’ve paid attention to big natural disasters in Texas, you’ve heard of them stepping up and providing hot meals during hurricane relief and generally taking care of their communities. They really do believe in taking care of their people.

I work for Walmart, if you’ve followed me for a while, you know that. Shopping at Central Market made me aware of the huge difference in a company that really cares for people and one that wants to make it seem they care while still making as much profit as they can.
Walmart stores have reduced hours, supposedly so they can have more time to sanitize and restock. And they are hiring lots of temporary workers to stock and cashier. And I don’t know what actually happens from the time I leave at 4 pm and when I get there at 7 am but I don’t see the extra sanitizing happening when I’m there. There are no sneeze guards at the registers, cashiers and customers are only about 3 feet apart. The pharmacy is serious about distancing and disinfecting counters and there are markers on the floor for distance and there are three or so pieces of tape on the floor at the service desk to keep people spaced apart if they’re paying attention. There is no limit on people in the store. There is no reminder to keep 6 feet apart. There are a few gloves available for us workers to use but no masks.

Another thing I see is many shoppers are not taking this whole thing seriously. The people I see shopping when the store opens are. They keep their distance, many are wearing masks and gloves. They get in and get out. Then, late morning, the people start coming in that are just hoping to find something to buy. Afternoon brings a lot of people that get bored and decide a trip to the grocery store is something to do. They come in groups, the whole family including kids. Then they get mad when they can only buy one thing from the meat counter. Or one carton of eggs. There’s no toilet paper or paper towels by then so they complain about that.

Today was a nice spring day so I was sitting on the front porch as it got dark. We live not too far from Interstate 20, on a normal day the road noise is very noticeable. If everyone was taking this seriously, you would think it would be much quieter. Nope. Highway noise was just as loud as normal. We also live in the flight pattern for DFW airport and there are a lot fewer airplanes in the sky.
The National prediction is for this virus to peak in three weeks. Governor Abbot says he should have a prediction in a week of when this will peak. But then, this is the state where the Lieutenant Governor said that grandparents should be willing to die to save the economy for their grandchildren. No really, here’s the link:

Oh, and gun stores remain open as “essential” businesses in the state. Cause errbody gotta have a gun to protect theyselves when the lootin and stuff commences.

Religion in the small towns

Driving across rural Texas panhandle, I am reminded how small town southern America can be overwhelmingly, in your face, Christian. I have no problem with having religion or who anyone wants to worship or how you worship. That’s your business.

I also know this country was built on the concept of Freedom of Religion. The founding fathers were still stinging from the enforced imposition of the Church of England as the only sanctioned religion in the nation. To the point of, if you wanted to preach any other doctrine, you literally had to stand on the graves of your ancestors to speak it.

I have heard those who say this country was founded on Christian values. If you mean respecting every person, and valuing every life, then yes. But these are common core values for every religion on this earth. Freedom of Religion means you are free to worship in the religion of your choice. And since all religions, at their core, revere human life and believe in kindness and love to your fellow human beings, why is worshiping in a different way a problem?

Being an empath can be a curse. You always see the other person’s side. You always try to understand where the other person’s viewpoint comes from. And if I were a non Christian, driving through all these little towns professing a love of Jesus in their signs, I would take it that a non Christian would not be welcome here. Based on the current state of public partisan Christianity, I would believe I would not receive help I might need, especially if I was a Muslim woman wearing a hijab. Or if I had a Jewish or Arabic last name. Or if I was traveling with a female friend and held her hand as I needed, for emotional support.

I know you are vocally proclaiming your support for what you believe in, but did you think it might make someone feel unwanted, unwelcome or afraid?

Think about it. Really, really think about it deeply.

Do you really need that sign?

The good things

Ok, I work at Walmart and it’s not exactly a glamorous job. Most times, not a rewarding job. Most of the time it’s just fixing things the overnight stockers got wrong and telling people what they want is either right here behind me or two aisles over or we don’t have it anymore. Some people come in with the attitude that nothing they want will be there and nothing will make them happy. 
And then there’s the little happy surprises. And they seem to come from either old people or little kids. 

I have worked at this store long enough to watch kids grow up and people grow old. The middle ages don’t change that much but both ends do. I have seen awkward kids grow into confident young adults. I have also seen some of my favorite older people slow down, start using canes and disappear. 

I started out in the photo lab where you really get to see where people live, their vacations and holiday gatherings. You see babies born, start school, where people go on vacation. It gives you a window on people’s lives. Well, digital took over photography and photo labs disappeared. I lost my career there. I miss that a lot. 

Life is what it is. 

Now, I work keeping things stocked, putting it on the shelf where customers can buy it and helping people find things. And sometimes you still get to connect with people. 

My very favorite customer is a blind woman who simply needs someone to walk her around the store and help her select groceries. I have been doing this so long, we have gotten to be good friends. We have fun talking about cooking and food and I have introduced her to new things available in the store we both like. A few years ago, she got a fabulous guide dog named Wella who is now one of my best friends too. 

Sometimes you just get used to seeing a face around and have an extra smile for that person. I never seem to learn their names but there is this one old man who reminds me of my dad and he always talks to me and teases me about something. I always have a hug for him. 

Sometimes I have to sit on the floor to straighten things or stock things and it never fails, some old person will say something about “sitting down on the job”. There’s a couple of them I have a running joke with about whether I’m sitting on the floor or not. We both get a laugh out of it. 

Then there’s the little kids. I like to smile and wave at the babies and I often get a charming smile in return. 

Yesterday, I was stocking things and as usual, I dropped one. This little boy came over, picked it up and handed it to me. I thanked him and told him he was sweet to do that. Hey, positive reinforcement can’t start too early. He might have been 4. He showed me his hot wheels car which was one of the characters from the movie Cars and I went along. A few minutes later, his mom was asking me where something was and almost before I could answer, he ran over to me and wrapped both arms around my knees and gave me a big hug. It was the sweetest moment. 

It’s people like this that make my job worthwhile. 

Idiocy, panic and the coming apocalypse 

A hurricane, with the same name as an invisible rabbit hit Texas recently. And we were doing ok, even with the current president coming to visit and making it all about him “what a turnout, good luck Texas”.
Sunday night, I  heard something on the news about the gas refineries on the Texas coast shutting down for a week or so driving gas prices up so I told my hubby he might need to go top my tank off before prices started going up, and he did. This was at $2.19 a gallon.

Next couple of days, status quo. I drive by a small gas station on my way to work, they usually keep an average price and don’t bounce around matching prices to the penny. Monday, still $2.19 a gallon. Driving to work Wednesday, I notice it’s $2.43 a gallon. Going home for lunch, it’s $2.59 a gallon. And after work…same price as at lunch but all the pumps have plastic bags on them saying gas is out, all gone.

I’ve heard stories, seen posts on Facebook about long gas lines that go around the block and people actually fighting over getting gas. In the city I live in. And we are a four hour drive from Houston.

The gas is still there, people. There is over a year of supply in the reserve. The only reason gas is running out is because people are acting the fool and acting like it’s all running out NOW.

And now that all the gas stations are out of gas, it’s going to take much longer than usual to get them all filled up again because there are only so many trucks that can only supply so many gallons to them so prices will only continue to climb.

And I’m sitting smug on a full tank that will keep me going for two weeks if I use it like normal and longer if I ration it.