You don’t owe an explanation.

This past week, my baby sister went to Costco. I’ve razzed her about her Costco-loving ways most of our adult lives. The over-sized shopping carts. The necessity to buy industrialized bags of M&M’s. I’m her sister. If I’m not around to tease her, who is?

Well, it would appear the people who saw her fill her cart till it was about to burst felt entitled. And if you’ve ever been to Costco, you’d know that the carts are really mini countries. How could she possibly need all that stuff during a pandemic??

For reference, my sister is the calm, cool-headed sister between my youngest sister and I. She borders on being too nice. Almost complacent. Sometimes, it gets her into trouble. She’d rather just take it, then confront it. She always has.

But yesterday, she wasn’t taking it anymore. She’s just as stressed as anyone else. Maybe even a mite moreso, given she’s had to toss away her home daycare because of the pandemic. And she’s worried about protecting my niece with a heart condition, and my nephew with the asthma. And the two other kids who are just as scared as she is. She’s worried about her husband in essential services, and their tenant who is, as well.

So, she wasn’t taking any shit.

“Stop staring!” she recalls saying to a stranger who couldn’t keep their eyes off her cart. The stranger was taken aback. My sister went on: “I’m feeding my family of six, a neighbour who can’t leave their house, and my sister who has four young babies at home and can’t get out to buy groceries!”

The stranger looked at her: “I was just surprised that someone could need all that stuff.”

My sister responded, “And even if it was?”

Yes, and even it was all for her, what then? What do we think we know? What do we think we know more that we can pass judgement onto someone else.

For the very first time, we are all equals. From our governments, to our working class. From the kid behind the counter at McDonald’s, to the CEO of the chain. No one is impervious to COVID-19. Not reporters, not politicians. Not children, not the elderly. Not the spring breakers, the gym rats, the parents, the babies, the doctors, the stay at home Moms. None of us.

And none of us know how the person standing next to us with their cart full at Costco is planning to utilize everything they’re purchasing. You don’t know if it’s to feed a pantry of ten, or to donate to the food bank downtown, or if it’s simply because you’re so goddamn afraid to go outside, you’re stocking up for a month.

Gently, friends. Without judgement. Without reservation. We’re all trying to survive. And we will.

— c ✩

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