Trader Joe’s shopping in the pandemic. Hurry up and wait

I took my first trip to a Trader Joe’s in more than two months this week, which also means it’s my first trip there since the Coronavirus pandemic swept the globe. I had to wait on line to get in when the store opened for senior shopping at 8 a.m. But once inside, I found the items I wanted and even a few I don’t normally buy there.

I went to a checkout lane with no one waiting in front of me, but the checkout was a sad moment for me, so much different from the pre-pandemic Trader Joe’s.

Shopping at Trader Joe's
The line I encountered waiting to get into a Chicago-area Trader Joe’s. These were all seniors waiting for the 8 a.m. opening of the store for senior shopping.

Checkout clerks now are surrounded by plastic shields. I was asked to push my cart to the clerk but to remain at the six-foot away line on the floor while she checked out my items.

Once she was done, she asked me to walk past her and her sheild to the card processing terminal to pay and leave.

The usual friendly banter with the clerk was gone. I am someone who looked forward to talking to those clerks when I shopped there. Chalk it up to me being an old man with few, if any friends nearby anymore.

Those days of chatting at the checkout are gone.

I am not normally a hard-core Trader Joe’s shopper. But there are items it sells that are low in salt that it’s impossible to find many other places.

My haul included Trader Joe’s High Fiber cereal which I’ve found over the years has more fiber and less salt than competing brands; Trader Joes salt-free marinara sauce and its low-salt salsa. I also found a low-fat brie I’ve never tried before.

I also grabbed some whole-wheat spaghetti and was a bit surprised there weren’t more whole wheat pasta options. I also bought some vacuum-packed grilled artichokes for my lunch salads becauase while still salty, they have less salt per serving than more traditional marinated ones.

There was no disinfectant or disinfectant wipes to be found, the same as I’ve seen everywhere I’ve shopped in recent weeks unfortunately.

I was done in less than half an hour. And while there were about a dozen people ahead of me waiting for the opening at 8, by the time I left, there was no line outside.

 

 

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