‘His frail fingers shook as he grasped the bananas. I felt a gut punch for this little old man bagging my groceries. Why was he even working?!’: Woman says ‘stay home, there are people who could die because they can’t’

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“My family was out of milk and eggs, and I had a severe craving for a Yasso bar. Feeling justified to take a quarantine-breaking grocery run, I grabbed my keys and hopped out of the house for a trip to Publix.

Y’all. I’m just SICK of being in the house. Grocery store runs feel like a vacation right now.

I literally feel stress melt away as I stroll my buggy through the aisles. Picking cereal, checking produce. Considering a Bogo. It’s heaven.

The tiniest hints of normalcy feel so grounding in this upside down world, don’t they?

Not going to lie, by the time I got to check out, I had almost forgotten about the damn coronavirus.

But then, I was dealt a gut punch in the form of a little old man bagging my groceries.

His frail fingers shook as he grasped the bananas, I obliviously left out of a produce bag.

My heart beat heavy inside my chest.

When was the last time I washed my hands? Why wasn’t he wearing gloves?

Why was he even working?!

I quickly paid and pushed my cart to my car, my face feeling flush with shame. The car ride home wasn’t a vacation. Tears burned in my eyes as I prayed for that poor man by name and internally berated myself for shopping when I could have ordered in.

Milk and eggs could have waited. Yasso bars could have waited.

I should have freaking waited.

There’s something about this virus that has exposed an ugly underbelly in our society, and I’m growing more aware of it every day.

I suppose it was always there, but before now, it was easier to ignore. I’m ashamed to admit that.

I mean. My Lord, y’all. Look at this picture.

We must stop and reckon with this ugly reality.

There is no reason a man this age should be working—-even in the SAFEST of work environments.

But it is UNFATHOMABLE that this elderly man is LITERALLY risking his life every single day for a low wage job that he can barely physically manage.

And to think our country is discussing ‘getting back to business’.

Maybe that would work if our most vulnerable citizens could afford to stay home. But to our everlasting shame, that simply isn’t the case.

This precious man, for reasons our society is too selfish to address, must continue to go to work. Or perhaps, he is a strong-willed elderly man who just lives for these small, human interactions.

Either way.

That means it’s up to all of us to STAY HOME.


Unless it’s absolutely necessary. Unless there is no other option.


And if you find yourself wondering if the errand is worth the risk, look at this picture.

Then ask yourself again. Is it really worth it?

If you have to leave for an essential item, I get it. But my goodness, if you can stay home,


There are people who could die because they can’t.”

Mary has started a GoFundMe for this Publix employee.  Please click here to learn more

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Mary Katherine Backstrom. Mary’s book Mom Babble: The Messy Truth about Motherhood is available here. Follow Mary on Instagram here.  Submit your story here, and be sure to subscribe to our best love stories here.

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