It's been a little hard to get groceries lately, what with the coronavirus hoax still abroad in the land of the free. Still, no matter how many the hoax kills, I have to go to work, and I have to go to the grocery store.
After retiring from the newspaper business, I took a job doing talk radio. Imagine my surprise when I was declared an "essential employee."
So, after leaving work one afternoon, I pulled into the parking lot of a local grocery store, slipped my mask over my snout and headed in to buy a couple of things.
In the cat food aisle, I stepped aside for an old Republican woman, letting her get at the kitty litter. In the frozen food aisle, I stood patiently six feet behind an old Democratic voter who was buying five servings of frozen macaroni and cheese.
The store was out of democratic toilet paper, but they had socialist paper towels. And the meat counter offered plenty of communist hot dogs.
I was rolling, moving fast past the progressive cans of chicken soup, dodging a feminist who was restocking the shelf of canned chili.
I got to the cash register panting, having barely survived so many encounters with so much politics.
From behind the plexiglass screen, the Republican checkout guy rang up my purchases, and my items were bagged by a pro-life bag person who was just beginning to question her gender.
The right-wing automatic door slid soundlessly open, and I walked out into the pro-gun parking lot and headed for my car.
"How is it in there?" an evangelical Christian said to me as she approached the door.
"Not bad," I said. "They're out of bipartisan legislation, though. And toilet paper."
She made a left-wing face of disappointment and picked up her pace.
Back in my truck, the radio relayed the thoughtful words of punchline Pres. Donald Trump, who said "tremendous" and "terrible," many times, and very fast for a man his age.
Almost everything above is not true. The Trump part is true, and the mask part is true, and the grocery store part is true.
But during my 25 minute trip to the grocery store, I didn't learn the political, gender or religious identity of anyone who shopped with me.
We were just people, people shopping on a day slightly more annoying than other days, masked and stepping out of each others' way, anxious to find the only kind of cat food our cats will eat, hoping sweetly for toilet paper, saying, "The hell with that diet," to ourselves and buying a gallon of mint chocolate chip ice cream.
Just people in the market, and though we all had our dearly held beliefs and hates and loves, we shut up about them, and maybe didn't even think about them, because the cat will only eat the tuna and cheese canned food, and definitely not the turkey and cheese canned food.
In the open mouth of the pandemic, right in there between the sharp teeth, we were just little, scurrying people with tiny little needs, and desires for home comfort and Cheerios, and tuna and cheese cat food, and, oh, the humanity, toilet paper.
To find out more about Marc Munroe Dion and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com. Dion's latest book, a tuna and cheese collection of his political columns, is called "Devil's Elbow: Dancing in the Ashes of America." It is available in paperback from Amazon.com, and for Nook, GooglePlay, Kindle and iBooks.
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