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impressions from going out and about today

Alfred E. Neuman

I went to the big town in our area today for the first time in about two weeks. Several things are noteworthy.

In our tiny town the schools are closed which affects my granddaughter’s high school and social programs a lot. It shut down the Adult Ed ham radio class I was teaching, just three weeks before the FCC exam final. It cancelled a mountain biking class I was going to participate in … can’t have a bunch of mountain bikers on the same trail within 20 yards of each other, ya know.

But in Darby we can still go to the building supply store for bolts, paint, lumber and hardware. We are still picking up groceries, minus paper products, of course. Not much changed for most of the older folks who make up the majority of Darby’s population.

Head further downstream to Hamilton and find a lot more impact. Auto traffic is distinctly down. The credit union doors are closed. We have to get paper currency passed out at the drive through window that I never have used before. I saw a couple of masks in the Ace Hardware store.

The real fun is in the largest, most popular grocery store around. People might as well have a helium balloon over their heads emblazoned with “I WATCH TOO MUCH TELEVISION”. In The Bitterroot, that is about 20% of us… wearing face masks, surgical gloves, wiping everything in sight with alcohol jellies or somesuch, looking shifty-eyed to find spaces farthest from fellow shoppers.

This is in a county where ONE out of every 20,000 people is reported to have The Virus.

Plenty of shelves appear normally stocked, but great gaps attest to the runs on paper goods, bottled water and other things I wasn’t looking for anyway. My wife put powdered milk on my list. That took me to the baking section where there were empty shelves instead of various flour makes, models and sizes. I asked some masked woman about the powdered milk. She replied they haven’t had that here for a month. This is certainly a step up from the big cities where the focus is on Ding Dongs, Ho Ho’s, sugary cola drinks and fast food.

I overheard a UPS driver telling my radio geek buddies I was visiting that the biggest surprise for him in his rural hill-country route is
How happy everybody is. They are out working up their garden, tidying the yard and more cheerful than they’ve ever been.

The direct opposite of the reports we get regularly from Seattle – where people are one stubbed toe or space violation from going postal.

There are reasons people gravitated to The Bitterroot.
There are certain types of people who comprise the majority here.
Failure to think ahead is not mainstream.

I do understand from several sources that I’m not ready to deal with our regional city and its big box stores. Buying local and mail order has completely replaced those rare trips for us.