Empty shelf etiquette

In the razor thin moments of eye contact and courtesy around supermarkets, there seems to be a new etiquette that’s arrived this season.

The lines are long are but the stores are empty. The listless souls garding the doors hold their weapons with slacked hands, the temperature checkers appropriately shaped like guns. There’s a terrible boredom that hangs over them or maybe it’s more obvious than usual for some indiscernible reason.

There used to be some effort at distancing but no one cares now, the blocked off street near the store are passé. You shuffle slightly adjacent, while politely not reaching across to grab what you’re looking at. There’s an air of informality with shorts and smaller T-Shirts abound. All of them wearing their masks below the nose or suffering foggy glasses.

Ask while guesturing to an empty shelf and of course it isn’t there. It’s still necessary to ask, just as necessary as it is for the people who work there to shrug. Certainty fitting that a world rebuilt around plastic consumerism has left us empty shelves and gestures.

It remains better than the indignity of having some billion dollar delivery service insist that the livelihoods of their workers and some disaster funds depends on your generosity, so these little bits of theater are a welcome refuge. All the vulgarities of consumerism are reassuringly locked away in four walls no matter how often you must visit.

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