On Groceries, Freedom, and Abuse Of Power

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On Thursday, I went to the grocery store I have been going to for my entire life.

The cashiers and I are on first name basis. They watched me grow up, and are now watching my kids grow up. Pretty soon, we’ll be moving away from this town, and I’m actually a little sad about switching grocery stores. 

It felt like home…

… until yesterday.

I haven’t said much about the current world situation, because there are so many unknowns. I am not a medical expert, nor do I claim to be one. 

It’s a new virus that doesn’t respect political views, geography, wealth, or religion, so I believe there is merit to putting safe, temporary restrictions in place.

We’ve been obeying stay-at-home orders as best as we can.

We aren’t going to church.

We aren’t gathering with more than 5 people.

We aren’t utilizing trails or parks that have been closed.

I take off my shoes before entering the house.

We move onto the grass, or to another sidewalk to give people their space when we go for a stroll.

We aren’t grocery shopping “just for fun.” For the past two months, I’ve been trying to order groceries for our household of eight, ten days out, online. Much of my order is usually missing, but we make do.

Yesterday, I really did need to enter the grocery store though, and pick up a few things that had been unavailable for several weeks.

I left the kids at home with Brad, so I could be in and out as quick as possible, and allow other shoppers to enter (a limited number of people are allowed in the store at a time). I selected a sanitized cart, sanitized my hands, and kept my distance from others.

As I approached the checkout lanes, I noticed that, except for the people who were being served, there was nobody in line.  Naturally, I scanned the lanes to see who was almost done, and stood at least 10 feet back until it was my turn to move ahead.

Then I noticed a woman I had never seen before approaching me. I’m not sure if she was a new employee, or a government appointed social distance enforcer, but she told me curtly that I could not stand there.

She told me to back up to the freezer section, at least 25 feet from the checkout lanes, where there was nobody in line. I did so, and within 30 seconds, she told me I was allowed to proceed to the same place I had been standing originally.

Unbeknownst to me, my infractions continued.

One of my feet was not directly on the dot (the other one was).

“Please, stand ON the dot, Ma’am,” she continued.

I looked down, and sure enough, one foot was outside the 12″ radius.

I suppose the fact that I was not wearing a mask had already made her suspicious of my recklessness, and my misplaced foot must have confirmed it.

I kept my mouth shut, and moved my foot back on the circle like a good plebeian, but what happened next is what prompted me to share this story.

The same woman sidled up to a co-worker who was having difficulty figuring something out on his phone. She stood shoulder to shoulder with him, not six feet apart. Then, with her glove-less hand, she began tapping his phone, trying to resolve whatever issue he was having.

She was touching a surface he would touch, breathing in his bubble, yet she spoke to me like I was two years old, making sure I stood on the dot with both feet, all in the name of safety.

When rules apply to everyone but you, you are a dictator.

Absolutely, I believe the virus is real, dangerous, and deadly for many; I also believe that opportunity for misuse of power abounds, and that also concerns me. 

β€œIt will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man who knows what the law is today can guess what it will be tomorrow.”
-James Madison

If you see no problem with shaming or humiliating another human being into submission of an arbitrary rule,  then I wonder how much you really value freedom, or life at all. 

This is not an encouragement to willfully defy rules that are not in opposition to Scripture. I believe we are called to humbly submit ourselves to governing authorities, as directed in Romans 13: 1-7.

 This is simply a plea to recognize what cattle carts look like, and to understand that being herded onto them “for your own safety” may be far more detrimental than it seems. 

Please read this, if you’re not familiar with the reference. 


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9 thoughts on “On Groceries, Freedom, and Abuse Of Power”

  1. I am deeply encouraged to know that others are recognizing and speaking out about the intensely grievous restrictions being placed on US Citizens. That it is even happening in this way at all, disturbs me to my very core and makes me seriously question the future of the USA.

  2. We feel the same down here in Indiana. It seems that the government’s fist is loosening a bit down here. I believe that restaurants may open now and some other businesses. They don’t enforce the distance rules as adamantly as you have described. For the most part I am able to stay at home (as I did before all this) since my husband and I are retired. One of our daughters who lives near does much of our shopping. I had to go out to the doctor’s (lab work) yesterday and they made certain that I was sanitized and masked before I entered the lab area, only to hear one of the attendants coughing away behind a screen. (I had just had to promise that I had not been coughing etc.) I know that it has been a trial and I understand everyone’s concern, even if I do doubt much of the “news” that I hear about it. As trials go, this is (so far) fairly minor, although my heart goes out to those who have been thrown out of work and the businesses who have been forced to shut down and see their own income be cut off. We haven’t been loaded into boxcars yet, though my husband reminds me that FEMA has camps ready to fill. I just trust in God and pray for His will, and that I will be obedient to it.

  3. It’s only fair that I share today’s great experience at the very same place!

    Now that I knew I was supposed to stand by the freezer section until summoned, I stood on the circle (with both feet!) and waited my turn, but this time, the social distance enforcer was a man, not a woman.

    “C’mon down, Ma’am,” he waved with a smile. “You can move right on up as soon as the lady in front of you has left.”

    The store was much busier than it was the last time I was there, but he continued to treat each person in line with a smile and dignity, all while making sure the rules were being followed to a ‘T.’

    When he passed my lane again, I thanked him for doing his job so well.

    He replied, “You know, people are stressed enough these days. I see no reason to not be nice. God bless you!”

    I was so encouraged! I never did send in that letter I was composing about what happened last week, but I will give this man a commendation.

    Brad thinks he must have read this book: https://amzn.to/35YBZB4 Have you read it? It’s a great one!

    A little kindness goes a long way these days! I don’t know if this man was a Christian, but he epitomized what we should be to those around us: kind, gracious, and helpful.

    My Oma used to say that a smile costs nothing; why should we not freely give it when we have all the hope in the world?

    “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” John 13:35

  4. Thank you!!! I am sad that this happened to you but glad that others are seeing it. I live in NY so please pray for us. Not NYC, we live in western NY, and yes its country. It scares me that people so willing just did as they were told, this has happened before in history and it didn’t end well. And yes you are right it is a dictatorship. However, there are good stories also, and for the most part my experiences have been good….Smile on πŸ™‚

  5. It takes strength from above to not put that dictating woman in her place when she failed to practice what she was just previously asking of others!!
    It’s much easier to comply when the admonition is given with pleasantness…but then we weren’t promised a pleasant and easy life.
    Now your second story in the comments just warms my heart!


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