The Substitutes

In the early days of the pandemic of 2020, we started experimenting with curbside grocery delivery. The first attempt was Walmart. I wanted to replenish some vitamins and eye drops. Within twenty minutes I was sent an email that my order was canceled. Why? I looked at the app on my phone. I had the button “No Substitutions” marked. A quick slide of the button to “Allow Substitutions” got my order back on track.

Over the spring, summer and now into the fall, we have got into the hang of ordering our Walgreens items through an app called Postmates. We have become seasoned “pros” on curbside pick-up through our local King Soopers. We have used Safeway and Walmart curbside as well.

We have become used to the substitutions that grocery workers use to fulfill our grocery orders. For example, one order I requested bananas and got avocados instead. My daughter used the avocados to make a great guacamole. We once asked for raspberries and were surprised to get strawberries. We don’t usually buy strawberries as our son is allergic. My daughter and I used those in our cereal and smoothies, careful not to expose our son. Recently, I wanted to make chicken wings as a nice treat for dinner and when we were putting away the groceries, noticed we got Italian meatballs instead. So, we had to change plans and make spaghetti and meatballs for dinner.

Yes, this may sound trivial. Why do I just not go to the store myself and get what I am looking for? Well, I am high risk according to the CDC. I had a cornea transplant in my left eye when I was 20 years old. The CDC considers people who have had transplants in the high-risk category for contracting Covid 19. Also, my husband has severe allergies. He usually suffers from one or two sinus infections per year due to his allergies.  We try to keep our home environment as hypoallergenic as possible.

This year has been a year of substitutions. As we get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving, we will do as the CDC guidelines suggest, and only have dinner for our immediate household.  My 84-year-old mom will only have dinner with my sister. Friends I have reached out to are doing the same as well, keeping their footprint smaller than usual.

It is not ideal but let us hope that the sacrifices we make today, will protect ourselves and our vulnerable friends, family, and neighbors. Hopefully, by this time next year we can gather more, have more in-person gatherings, instead of substitution Zoom and FaceTime meetings.