A Journal of the Plague Year: #14

Today, was the third day “back to work” as a Distance Learning Public School English Teacher and the second day of National Poetry Month, April, 2020. My contact with students thus far, remotely, has been minimal. Our district has given us three days to prepare the rollout of some supplemental learning resources for our students, and then (while the tech department is delivering laptop computers to families without the technology), about ten calendar days after that to roll out Distance Learning officially, where students are not just offered optional opportunities, but are expected to proceed with their high school education via the powers of the internet, lessons, assignments, and grades all delivered remotely. Today, I offered up the first enrichment, supplemental assignment (what I like to call “extra soul credit”) to my IB Seniors: visit the NaPoWriMo website, learn some stuff about poetry, write some poems, if you want to or are able, one a day for a month! I don’t know how many takers I’ll have, but I assured them that I was doing the assignment as well, so that might motivate a couple of them. It is my general philosophy to never assign my students a task that I would not be willing to do myself. And the extra soul credit is always the best kind.

So, without further ado, today’s offering:

#346: Pandemic Shopping

I’ve taken out the Honda Fit
maybe three times in as
many weeks. I did some
curbside record store
retail therapy, and I’ve done
the pandemic shopping.
A few days ago, when there
was a break in the rain,
I walked this time
up Concord Road, crossed
McLoughlin Blvd., trudged
across the Harbor Freight
and Tools parking lot into our
neighborhood Grocery Outlet,
the bargain market, the store
a friend of ours likes to call
The Used Food Place.
That’s not fair, but
I find it really funny.
They have marked
the floors of the checkout lines
with duct tape in six-foot intervals
so that customers don’t get
too close to each other.
Everywhere else in the store:
it’s a free-for all.
They make you bag your own
stuff and that’s fine.
The clerks mostly act like
it’s just another day and
that is also fine. I bought
milk, half and half, hot dogs,
buns, and a six pack of beer.
Buoy, IPA.
Walking back home, I kept
switching the hand that carried
the heavy bag so I wouldn’t
end up with arms of uneven
lengths. And maybe while
I knew that was not a likely
consequence of favoring one
arm over the other, it felt
real, and that’s good, when
you’re pandemic shopping
and nothing else does.

GettyImages_1215433825_toned.0

8 Comments

Filed under Education, Poetry, Reportage, Teaching, The Plague Year, Writing and Reading

8 responses to “A Journal of the Plague Year: #14

  1. druekberg

    Simple DIY masks could help flatten the curve. We should all wear them in public
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/03/28/masks-all-coronavirus/

  2. Tracie Randall (but you knew me as Tracie Bates)

    Thanks Mr. Jarmer. I really liked your poem. It made me feel better even though life is so surreal right now. And I think it’s awesome you wouldn’t assign something that you wouldn’t want to do yourself. You’ve always been one of my favorite teachers 😁

  3. I wrote a grocery shopping poem too!

  4. Oh brother, lemme tell you. The thought of going to the store now strikes terror in my heart. But I need to eat…so…I’ve figured out I can call the store ahead of time and ask if they have certain things and if it’s a good time to come. Such a strange new world…

    • Go really early or really late. You gotta eat. You’ll be okay. Bring a six-foot pole. Smiley face emoji. It is strange. This evening I picked up take-out from a favorite neighborhood Japanese restaurant. They had it down. It was impressive and amazing the way they rearranged the tables and chairs to make it safe (seemingly so) to pick up our food while maintaining the appropriate distancing. Take care! Heart emoji.

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