Tuesday morning, I went to Costco. On the way there the radio DJs explained endlessly that the governor’s lockdown order began at 12:01 a.m. March 25 (Wednesday). I did not think that was particularly a hard concept to understand, but it went on and on, on more than one station.
It’s not quantum physics. Costco has kupuna (geezer) hours, 8 to 10 a.m. I got to the parking lot at 8:59, had no trouble getting a parking space. I walked toward and then past the entrance and on to the line. Is that the end? The line at 9:05 went from the door to the back fence, along the fence and then back toward the front ending at the motorcycle parking by Lawehana Street. A total of about 270 meters. People were trying to stay 6 feet apart, but were not very good at it. They were, however, polite. I think the average distance was about a meter, so about 270 people in line, some were in pairs. I heard the line started at 7 a.m.
About 9:30 a.m., the line started moving faster. I learned that Costco was limiting the number in the store to 170, admitting 25 at a time. 25 out — 25 in. When I got to the head of the line, about 9:50 a.m. it divided into two lines, separated by barriers. Younger people, maybe 200 sitting or standing, shoulder to shoulder against wall those who got there early but were not yet 60, waiting for 10 a.m., and kupuna who had proof they were over 60. That line was fairly short and still practicing as best they could 6 feet, maybe less. Within 10 minutes I was inside, issued a sanitized wagon, shopping cart.
There were admonishments everywhere to practice safe distancing, 6 feet please. I did not wait around to see how they managed two parallel lines after 10 a.m., but I imagine it worked like TSA. A few from this line, a few from that line. I wonder if there is a line still at closing time if they get locked out? There was a sign by the door indicating what was sold out, paper towels, toilet paper, Lysol and rubbing alcohol. Another sign indicated that similar items in stock were not returnable.
Inside the store it was quite pleasant. Easy to walk around what little traffic conflict there was greeted with a smile and an excuse me. Many girls and women have a self-deprecating habit of saying “sorry” when nothing’s wrong. My daughter, Amy, pointed this out to me. I have become very aware so I often say something like “Don’t say you are sorry, you have not done anything, no harm no foul.” Girls don’t demean yourselves. I actually got almost everything on my list. With just two of us in the house some Costco packages were just not practical. I was prepared to buy paper towels if available, but I couldn’t use the 50-pound box.
At check-out they kept us back 6 feet, cleaned the conveyor after every customer. I commented to the checker how aloha everyone was. She said: not all of them by the time they get here. I hope I can limit this experience to once a month, and hate to think what it’s like in larger counties.
Next stop, Costco gas, I drove right to the pump.
My agenda included getting my truck safety checked, but when I got there they were locked up. Are they going to give us some slack if we can’t get it done? I think an extension would be advisable. I stopped at Petco for a pump they did not have. Then to the bank; I was asked nicely to stand behind a blue line as much as possible. Same thing at Ace, ChoiceMart and NAPA. ChoiceMart had some paper towels Tuesday! This lockdown will be inconvenient, but here on Hawaii people seem to be adjusting for now. It beats being stuck in bed with broken ribs like 2018.
I can’t think of a better place to be right now than Hawaii Island. Lots of safe distance, few infected, modern medicine and ALOHA.
Ken Obenski is a forensic engineer, now safety and freedom advocate in South Kona. He writes a biweekly column for West Hawaii Today. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org