ROCHESTER - In what portends to be part of a new grocery shopping normal, more than a dozen 60-, 70- and 80-somethings gathered in the dark early this morning outside the Milton Road Market Basket patiently waiting for the 5:30 a.m. call for their "seniors only" hours to stock up on a week's worth of groceries without the normal crush clogging the aisle.
One white-haired lady who was first in line proudly declared she'd been there since 5:15 a.m. Looking around she noticed she was surrounded by men.
"What ... am I the only woman here?" she quipped. "Where are all the wives? Home sleeping?"
It was a bizarre scene, but there was also a sense of solidarity among the old folk.
Seniors are the most vulnerable to contracting COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, so supermarkets like Market Basket, Hannaford and Shaw's are all establishing "seniors only" hours, mostly in the early mornings on Tuesdays through Thursdays. Hannaford's hours are from 6-7 a.m., Market Basket's are from 5:30-7 a.m.
Some of the talk was about the need for "seniors hours" at the liquor store.
Much of the talk was about the scarcity of sanitary necessities.
"I'm here to get some toilet paper," said one Milton resident.
But when shoppers got inside shoppers found much of the toilet paper stocks already depleted, with just some high-priced varieties still on the shelves.
Wipes, Purell, Lysol were also nowhere to be found.
Many supermarkets have said they haven't been able to stock Purell or Lysol wipes for more than a week.
Other food items that were in short supply included mayonnaise and frozen vegetables, save for okra. Yuckie poo.
True, there were some gaping holes on store shelves, but there's more than enough to get by. No need to panic, so please keep it to a week's worth. We know we did.
What may have been the best part of the whole experience was the waiting outside, commiserating with fellow baby boomers and joking about the absurdity that has now become reality.
And then just a couple of minutes before 5:30 a.m., here they came. A gaggle of young, grandkid-aged, uniformed Market Basket employees, Dunkin' Donut coffee cups in hand, sallying through the doors headed for the front lines, stocking shelves, putting out produce and manning registers to get the old folks their victuals. God bless 'em.