A Return to Normalcy

About a third of us were maskless, including a similar fraction of the employees. The remaining two thirds of shoppers paid no notice; nary a Karen nor any of her subspecies were to be found. At least they weren’t heard from. I’ve long suspected that those scolds only hector when they feel the crowd at their back.

I spoke with a maskless employee at the customer service desk who called the maskless manager over and the maskless manager and I had a maskless conversation about the possibility of her taking on my oldest as a grocery bagger a few days a week. He wants a summer job and I’m all for it. He hopes to try his hand at one of several restaurants where he’s already buddies with the staff and gets treated like a mascot. I want him to be a number for a while, learn to deal with people who he doesn’t already have a friendship with, and earn praise and criticism from people he hasn’t known since he was eight. Publix grocery store, particularly now that they don’t require a facial security blanket is just the ticket. Plus, he can ride his bike to work so I won’t have to drive him.

Aside from maskless bliss, Publix revealed yet another sign that civilization is on the mend from this stupid self inflicted wound. Caffeine Free Diet Coke is once more available in 12 oz cans.

The 12 oz cans started to dwindle early on during various stages of initial lockdown, but only the Caffeine Free Diet stripe. Coke, regular Diet Coke, Coke Zero, and Sprite all filled the shelves and were replenished. Caffeine Free, still available in the 2 liter bottle and those tiny little cans that look like they are destined for a clickbait promoted tweet promising hilarious stories about the weirdest things people went to the ER to have removed from their… well, you get the idea. But why not the 12 oz can.

I was in the store when a Coca Cola employee was stocking his wares so I asked him, “What happened to the full cans of Caffeine Free Diet Coke?’

“Oh,” he said. “It’s cause of COVID.” That made as much sense as it made so I asked again. “Yeah. They aren’t doing that right now cause of COVID.” Finally having the matter explained to me I took my leave.

For whatever reason my preferred Coke product is not as viral resistant as the other offerings but it’s back in the public square again, as sure a sign as any that this thing is over – or at the very least winding its last bits down.

I broke my fast. I’ve had nothing to drink but water and tea for the last two weeks or so. I read somewhere reputable enough for me to have already forgotten where I read it that drinking water and tea exclusively makes you feel better. It’s true. It doesn’t make you feel better like a drinking a few glasses of wine makes you feel better, but that’s short term.

Today I had a Caffeine Free Diet Coke in a 12 oz can. I’m returning to the old normal.

I am going to miss seeing people driving alone in their cars with the windows rolled up and their masks on. That got me every time.

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