it started with a phone call. I made the call, setting in motion the chain of events which would inevitably follow. I received my instructions and hung up. At the agreed upon time, I drove to my destination and pulled into the small, practically empty parking lot. There was a truck a couple spaces away from my car and another car in the corner of the lot, but that was it.
Taking a deep breath, I pulled out my phone and made the call as instructed. Then I waited, not sure what to do next. It was a warm, sunny day so I got out of my car, deciding to enjoy the fresh air while I waited. I could not see through the glare on the truck’s windows, so I didn’t know if someone sat in that truck or not.
It was then that I saw the gowned, gloved, masked figure silently, steadily making its way toward me. This mysterious figure carried a fairly large bag in one hand. That must be it, I thought. What to do? Should I get back into my car? Before I had time to act on that option, the figure was before me, extending the hand holding the bag. Should I take it? My mind raced – my body froze.
I had thought my contact would set the bag down and walk away, leaving it for me to retrieve after they had vanished back into the building. We should not be seen together. We should not share the same space, no matter how big a space it might be. Had I jeopardized the entire operation by exiting my car without warning or permission? Confronted with the outstretched arm dangling the bag before me, I felt I had no choice but to reach out and to accept the bag.
I quickly returned to my car, even as the gowned, gloved, masked figure retreated out of sight. No words had been exchanged. I breathed a sigh of relief that the encounter was behind me now, the mission completed, as I glanced around for possible onlookers before leaving the parking lot with the bag safely beside me in the car.
What must you be thinking by now, dear readers? That I have turned to a life of crime or perhaps of top secret espionage? Would it disappoint you to know the truth about this event? Unbelievable as it seems, I have not been describing a drug deal or some top secret, undercover mission for our government. I am not actively engaged in espionage of any kind.
The time to confess has come – I was buying cat food from my local veterinarian. Yes, my cat can’t eat the regular, run of the mill stuff. She is on a prescription diet, available only from my/her veterinarian. Quite a let down isn’t it? From high stakes, top secret dealings to the reality of simply buying food for my pet, is one big step down, isn’t it?
But only during such a strange time in history as this, could something so simple as buying cat food resemble a high stakes, undercover operation. It is beyond imagination when I think of how a deal like this would normally “go down.”
I would stop by the vets’ on my way home from work and wait my turn to speak to the receptionist in the waiting room. I would place my order as he/she asked how my cat was doing. We would talk about that and other things as I petted Tom or Jerry or any of the other “live in” cats that usually milled about the waiting room. I would check out the fish in the fountain/pond thing (along with the cats) and chat with whoever happened to be waiting with their pet to see the doctor.
I never failed to meet interesting dogs and cats and their owners, and sometimes get to hear their stories, while I waited for my order to be filled. It was always good to see the people that work there, as they become like family over time. I would leave having made some new animal friends and having filled my cat’s prescription for her special diet. No stress, just an everyday encounter with other people and their pets, swapping stories and telling “pet tales.”
As you can see, that past pet food purchase experience bears no resemblance to the high stakes encounter I just had with the mysterious, masked, gowned and gloved figure with whom I dealt today. No wonder I felt I had entered an alternate universe. No wonder I felt oddly unsettled after my routine errand, that was anything but routine. Nothing was remotely familiar about today’s experience.
And therein lies the problem. COVID-19 restrictions have stripped away from all of us our familiar, comfortable, daily routines and ways of interacting with each other. It is a strange, stressful new world out there. I think PTSD will be much more widespread than the corona virus in the days to come. We have yet to realize the high price we are paying. I wonder if anyone is working on a PTSD vaccine?
We desire a return to our old, pre-COVID-19 world. But we have a better world to look forward to in our future. 1 Corinthians 2:9 tells us, “However, as it is written: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him-‘ “.
Likewise, we read in Revelation 21:1, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.”
Better days are coming . . .
“Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
sincerely, Grace Day