Stocking Your Pantry & Saving Your Sanity: A Guide to Breaking Isolation Responsibly

With the novel coronavirus pandemic affecting the lives of basically everybody in the world to some extent (betcha Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year for 2020 is “social distancing”), chances are you’re going a little stir-crazy. Depending on where you live or who you’ve come into contact with, you may be self-isolating, on lockdown, quarantined, or sheltering in place. They all basically mean the same thing: you’re stuck at home, and probably not by choice. While this is a crucial step in preventing community spread and flattening the curve (the latter a contender for Phrase of the Year), at some point you’re going to have to venture outside, whether to stock your pantry or save your sanity. It’s okay to do so, but when breaking isolation, make sure you do so responsibly.

The following tips will help minimize the risk to you and others.

  • Practice social distancing. Yes, this has been drummed into your consciousness for weeks now, but it’s still the best advice I can offer. Maintain a distance of six feet from others at all times (that’s 1.83 meters if you’re Canadian or .000987473 nautical miles if you’re a sailor).

  • Carry hand sanitizer. Normally carrying miniature bottles of alcohol in public is frowned upon, but during global pandemics, hand sanitizer is your best friend. Stock up on those tiny containers and treat ‘em like American Express (i.e., don’t leave home without them). Keep some in your car, your purse, or your fanny pack (hey, I’m not judging your lack of fashion sense here) so you won’t be caught off guard.

  • Don’t be a hoarder. Officials have reassured us time and again that there is no shortage in the nation’s food supply, but you wouldn’t know this by walking through the grocery store. Do you really need seven cans of Spam?! (Do you really need one can of Spam?!) Stick to reasonable quantities of food so others can find what they’re looking for…and for crying out loud, stop buying every last roll of toilet paper!

  • Avoid the playground. Keeping kids active and engaged is important while school is on hold, and it’s okay to take them to the park…but keep them away from the swing set, monkey bars, and other playground equipment, as those things can harbor germs. Encourage them to run around instead. If that means throwing a stick and having them fetch, so be it! Desperate times call for desperate measures. And hey, speaking of Fido…

  • Pick up after your dog. This has nothing to do with COVID-19 but is a pet peeve of mine (see what I did there?) and, since I’ve got the forum, I’m spreading the message. If you aren’t prepared to dispose of your doggie doo, then doggie don’t. Get a cat instead; at least they’re self-cleaning.

  • Don’t flaunt the rules. Here’s the bottom line, as well as a painful truth if you fall into the “snowflake” category: you are not special, so quit acting like you are. The rules that have been enacted are for everybody’s safety, so follow them as though your life depends on it (newsflash: it very well might). It’s better to put up with a little inconvenience for a few weeks than, you know, wind up dead or something. Think of how good that first pint of beer (or Appletini…again, not judging!) from your favorite neighborhood joint is going to taste once restrictions have been lifted and life returns to normal!

Like what you’ve read? Check out my blog. Like hyphens, I’ve got this occasionally-humorous-and-often-self-deprecating-slice-of-life stuff down pat!

About the Author: Mark Petruska

Mark Petruska is a professional writer and editor, a prolific blogger, and a published author. His passion for writing was ignited after winning a short story contest in the 8th grade. Married to wife Tara, he lives in Rapid City, South Dakota. When not churning out words, he enjoys photography, hiking, storm chasing, listening to records, and drinking Bloody Marys. 

Photo by Jesse Brown Nelson


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