Christopher, Eldon, Vincent…these are the names of the men that have been important to me in my life. They have listened to me. They have shared with me what they thought would be best for me. They always asked me what I thought before making impulsive decisions and they respected what I had to say.
These men are my Instacart shoppers.
For the past many weeks I have been quarantining with my husband of almost thirty five years. Most days I choose to forget about his snoring that woke me up multiple times and instead choose to remember that I love him. But other days during this lock down, I can’t ignore how I feel—that I’m mother, housekeeper, and cook which, no surprise to many women, are not roles conducive to also feeling like a play mate and lover. I know he tries. He is willing to set the table… after I ask him to do it. He will take out the garbage… after I ask him to do it. He will unload the dishwasher… after I ask him to do it.
Now, people, I hear you saying “Is she crazy, she has a husband who agrees to all of this and she’s complaining?!” I guess the point is that no one has to ask me to do our laundry, or cook the meals, or keep the kitchen clean, or continually make sure there is food in the house. So, yeah, you can hate me for saying this, but sometimes I wish he would anticipate what I need and just do it without asking. I sometimes feel that a little teamwork is needed that I shouldn’t have to ask for. This brings me back to how I met my other men.
During this period of stay-at-home, I was surprised when I found that I had quite a learning curve to climb when it came to what I thought would be a simple task–ordering groceries and food online. I had never done this before so I downloaded Instacart, gave them my credit card and the journey began.
First, I discovered that although I needed chicken breasts for that night’s dinner, I couldn’t get them from the market I was trying to order from until several days in the future. I searched Instacart for other stores and each time I went to check out my six chicken breasts, I’d be informed that delivery was days away. So I kept trying other markets on the app. And voila, I finally found chicken from a place that would deliver that day. To be sure I’d have enough for several meals I doubled my order. I felt so accomplished when my twelve chicken breasts arrived and I packed up all but two of them for freezing.
However, what I discovered during the ensuing days was that I unknowingly ordered chicken breasts from all those other markets, some of which decided that they should throw in some chicken thighs as well. Now my freezer looks like a poultry graveyard with about two dozen dismembered chickens.
You would think I would have learned something from the chickens but, no, I inadvertently bought twelve tubes of Crest toothpaste, I attempted to order eight bananas but wound up with eight pounds of bananas, and when I thought I was getting six fresh uncooked chicken apple sausages, I got six packs of them each multiple sausages inside. It took me having to store thirty six large sausages to finally master the checkout process and get my orders down to manageable numbers. What took me a while longer was figuring out how not to get items I never asked for. Then a friend told me about communicating with your shopper in real time as he or she was actually at the market picking out items for you
That’s how I met Vincent, Eldon and Christopher. Over the past few weeks, my masked men fought dragons to get me my unsweetened almond milk and the proper amount of ground beef. Together, as they shopped, we picked out appropriate substitutes for things the market didn’t have. Christopher gave me his opinion if he thought I was making choices I’d regret, Eldon and I cheered and gave one another thumbs up when a coveted item was found, and Vincent and I decided together, as any good couple should, that it was worth doubling the order on some of the hard to find items that he managed to score.
Unaware of the others existence in my life, we lol’d together, we mourned the items that were not to be. And unlike my husband who would stare at the shelves in the refrigerator and ask “where’s the chicken” as if it might be hidden in our bedroom under the covers rather than on a shelf where it had been for thirty years, these men knew exactly where to look in the market to find what we were looking for. And then, when Vincent, Eldon, or Christopher let me know he was on his way, and I let him know that he should leave the packages at my front door, we knew that we were destined never to meet. But I left them each a hardy tip just to let them know how much I appreciated the care and concern they showed. These men were on my team.
I suppose if I were granted a lifetime with my hero-shoppers, we might begin to see flaws in one another that weren’t apparent over texts. I’d get irritated that they even thought for a moment that vanilla cake mix was an appropriate exchange for the elusive all purpose flour, and they would probably want to throttle me after I asked them to read off all of the ingredients and nutritional information on the box of cereal.
And then I wonder if Christopher, Eldon, or Vincent will watch “Jeopardy” with me and give me enormous kudos when I know the answer to something. And will I be wowed by them as I am by the randomness of my husband’s knowledge in areas about which I had no idea? When I’m feeling low, will any of them make me get off the couch and take a walk with him and reassure me that this state of affairs is not forever? Will they pour me a glass of wine at dinner, take a bite of the food I cooked—very likely chicken—and say “this is really good” even when I know that the flavor in that night’s dinner bore a resemblance to the Styrofoam that came in that day’s UPS box? And, bottom line, will they willing help me with all the day to day tasks even if it does take a little prodding on my part to get him moving?
When all of this passes, I will remember my Instacart heroes fondly. Our teamwork is getting me through this quarantine. But a team isn’t a life-long partner. And though they do know groceries in a way my husband does not, it’s the sound of that snoring that reminds me that I really do have my partner at my side.