We locked down on March 16th, about 5 days before the Governor issued his Stay-at-Home order for our state. For 70 days, we did not order food for carry-out or delivery. I just could not wrap my head around the idea of the many hands that might touch the food and the containers before it reached here. There is also a lot of controversy regarding the popular delivery apps. I have had a chance to gain some unique insight into some of that, making it even easier to resist delivery. For 70 days, I have made all of our meals, usually 2 or 3 a day. We often eat a large breakfast and then just snack and make a big dinner. On school days when we have the youngest kid, we do a little more formal lunch just to maintain some structure, but those are often sandwiches or leftovers.
Then, one of our favorite restaurants, which had closed just after the Stay-at-Home was announced, decided they were going to reopen for carry-out and possibly delivery. As far as I know, they have not yet started delivery, as they are working out the details, but I understand they plan to use their own employees and not a third-party service. They do use a third-party service for online ordering, but my understanding is that it is one that is more friendly to small restaurants.
Anyway, after much discussion, my husband and I decided that restaurants have had the time and put in the effort to really make it safe to get their food. Some of our neighborhood restaurants have been able to fashion pick up windows so that you don’t have to enter. Many of them offer curbside pickup. In walking around the neighborhood, and in seeing posts online by the restaurants themselves and by our neighbors, it appears that they are doing all the things we would want to see, like wearing masks, creating no-touch ways to pass food, and using hand sanitizer constantly. So, we decided to start with this newly reopened restaurant to ease our way into the idea.
The first run did not go so well. As the restaurant would later state in a Facebook post, they were learning how to best do things and reopen after nearly two months of being closed, and demand was high. We couldn’t get through on the phone to order, and the first day, I couldn’t get the online ordering system to work right either. We tried again their second day, and I still couldn’t get through on the phone. I was definitely not prepared to go inside, and the curbside option involved calling them when you arrived. So I could not bring myself to order, even though the online site seemed to be working at that point. None of this is criticism of the restaurant. We are all learning how to do things in a new way and they were doing their best. There were actual tears of frustration at this point. Let’s face it; there was an all out meltdown.
I know it sounds crazy, under normal circumstances, to cry over a chicken sandwich. And I know that I have judged many people who have made statements I considered irrational about the things they cannot have or do right now because of shutdown orders across the country. I want to say here that I apologize for any judgments on how people feel. I’ll continue to judge how they act on those feelings when it endangers others, but I respect the feelings. This wasn’t about a chicken sandwich. This was about the stress of hearing everyday about people getting sick and many dying. It was about being fearful every time we get groceries or shuffle our youngest back and forth between houses. This was about being an agoraphobic person who worked herself up to crack the door just a bit to get that carryout, only to have the door slammed shut. This was enough to send me running back inside forever.
But I didn’t. We waited a week. I talked it over with my therapist in the interim. We decided maybe that meltdown could be avoided with a little additional preparation. So, last night, we decided to give it another shot. The restaurant had posted some updates online about how they were adjusting and getting a system down better by the day. And my husband and I wanted to take a longer walk than normal after dropping the youngest at her mother’s. So I decided we would try again, and if it didn’t work out, we had plenty of leftovers for back-up.
They answered on the first ring! I was so excited. We ordered our food, but they could not take payment over the phone. This moderately defeated the purpose of our calling the order instead of ordering online to avoid them paying fees to a third party because it was negated by the fact that we would have to go inside to pay. My wonderful husband assured me this would be fine and he would go and pick it up. He took hand sanitizer and a baggie for the credit card so he wouldn’t have to touch it after they returned it to him. He was back in no time at all. He said they were running a very tight ship, and he felt perfectly safe. For the record, he is as paranoid as I am even though he does not have agoraphobia that we know of.
I had a station prepared for “processing’ our dinner. I had a cardboard box for him to set the delivery bag on. I should mention that the restaurant also switched from the previously used plastic bags to paper, so I was also impressed with that change. I had two plates, a spoon and a pair of tongs ready. We quickly removed all food from the containers to plates without anything touching the outside of the containers. We threw out the containers, washed our hands and had a great dinner.
I still won’t be doing delivery for a while probably. Even if or when I do, I will be looking for restaurants that offer their own delivery service and not a third party app unless they substantially change their practices, which they don’t seem interested in doing. I won’t dive into a rant on the things I don’t agree with or like about them here. But I think I’m prepared to continue to support our local restaurants with carry out. Actually, I even managed to pick up coffees and croissants from our local coffee shop this morning!