Friday, April 17, 2020

Resupplying under lockdown

It’s now been three weeks since New Zealand went under lockdown. Supermarkets were declared “essential services” and allowed to keep operating, but with restrictions. At the same time, people who are older or with “underlying health conditions” were urged to stay away from the supermarket. Online ordering was overloaded. What to do? I found ways to resupply under lockdown.

I last went to the supermarket on Sunday, March 22, the day before New Zealand’s lockdown was announced (I talked about my pre-lockdown shopping adventures the day before my solitary confinement began). Since then, I’ve been using what I bought, plus things I had on hand—fresh, frozen, or in the pantry. It was only in the past few days that I’ve started to run out of things, and that was what led me to try making soda bread: I ran out of bread a good week or so earlier.

I had a dilemma, as I explained last week:
There will come a time when I’ll need to go get more groceries, and that presents a challenge. I meet the criteria for people who should, when possible, avoid going to the supermarket in person because of my high blood pressure and heart issues (arrhythmia). However, those conditions are also under control, and there are people who are far worse off than I am, which makes me want to leave the available support for those who need it far more than I do. And yet, it’s scary to think I could be more vulnerable, or have a worse outcome, than others due to my my “underlying health conditions”, as they always put it.
The problem is that the supermarket chains’ online ordering system was instantly overwhelmed, and even the system they’d set up to give delivery priority to vulnerable people often had no available delivery slots. So, I had a choice between braving the supermarket or finding another way.

My decision was made when I came down with a cold (yes, it appears it’s possible, even in a lockdown). I didn’t want to risk going to a supermarket when I could be considered “vulnerable” and while already fighting (an admittedly not serious) virus. So, I looked again at “a restaurant supply company [that] sells large packages of stuff for homes, too,” even though “they greatly exceed my needs as one person living alone (in some cases, I could never get through it all before it’d go off).” My specific motivator is that one of the cafes I go to had organised to get a commission for any online orders from their referral, meaning they could get a bit of cash while they’re closed. So, I placed an order on Monday (I waited because of the holiday weekend).

The order arrived yesterday. The photo above is of the delivery truck from my perspective under lockdown; I didn’t open the front door until after the delivery guy had walked back to his truck to leave. The quality is good, as you’d expect from a company supplying the restaurant trade, but that also means it was more expensive than I’d ordinarily buy (mostly because the produce is all/mostly organic, but the meats are also high grade or organic and/or free range). I didn’t have a lot of options, other than having a family member shop for me, and that—well, I’m not ready to be that dependent on others. Not yet, not while I’m this “young”.

The only real downside of my order was that their only bag of flour is 10kg (a normal supermarket on is usually 1.5kg), and the yeast came in a 500g package (which is basically a US pound; the store-bought yeast I’d buy is in a MUCH smaller bottle). Still, I wanted ot use my breadmaker more, anyway, so I can use a lot of it up, maybe even all of it.

So, I’m now stocked with food for at least a couple more weeks (and several months for breadmaking…), and hopefully by then we’ll have moved to Alert Level 3. However, that’ll really be a sort of “Lockdown Lite”, with most of the same restrictions still in place, but with a little easing. The preliminary guidelines for what that will mean were released yesterday, and will be put into place whenever we exit lockdown (and a decision on that date is to be made next week).

I said last week that I’d placed my first online order for supplies, and it was for the furbabies. The package was picked up here in Hamilton on Tuesday, so I expected that the order would arrive the next day, Wednesday, but it didn’t. It also didn’t come yesterday. It arrived at 9:12am today. That delay resulted in a small problem: Among other things, I ordered a resupply of their morning treats, but I ran out of them on Wednesday morning (I had to improvise Thursday and this morning). I think, but don’t know, that the delay in delivery may have been due to higher volume of packages being delivered because people are ordering in supplies they can’t go and get.

Meanwhile, the “hoarding” of the dog food I did on my last trip away from the house on March 23 turned out not to be that: I opened Jake and Sunny’s food this week, and will open Leo’s soon. So, it turned out I bought the dog food at most a week earlier than I otherwise would have (because I don’t want to run out, I always buy new well before we get too low). If these severe restrictions continue into Alert Level 3, I can order their food online, too, if I need to—I’ll just have to allow extra time for delivery.

Yesterday I added one more “contactless” delivery: Family. My sister in law was going to the discount chemist and asked if I wanted anything. As it happens, I was running low on toothpaste, and, in fact, had already resorted to using the small samples I got at the periodontist.

My sister in law bought the toothpaste and drove over to my house, left them at the front door, then backed off. That meant I was able to come outside and we could have a brief chat—separated by more than the minimum two metres. She was the first person I know that I’ve seen in some three and a half weeks, and even from a distance it was nice to see a friendly, familiar face. It was the best medicine my cold could get. I guess allowing family to help me resupply wasn't quite as embarrassing as I'd thought—there are benefits.

So, the furbabies and I are well supplied, and I found ways to get more supplies without having to take the risk of going out and queuing up at the supermarket like someone in East Berlin in 1962, and the health risks that may pose. I found a way to resupply under lockdown without having to take any real risks. Hopefully, I won’t need to do that again.


rogerogreen said...

Interesting. I sent out my 16 y.o. daughter to shop. Fortunately it's only two blocks away.

Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

There are rumours that online ordering in Hamilton may be about to get better, and since there will be restrictions on in-person shopping for many weeks to come, the sooner they expand capacity, the better.