The cure for cabin fever can provide some meaningful interactions


Notes from a basement escapee:

I’m at the parking lot at Market Basket in Westford. It is just before the 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. time allowed for senior citizens to do their shopping.

It is rainy and dark. There is a line of some 40 masked elderly people waiting to get in. Since I have no patience I think to turn around and go home. But since I am already there without nothing better to do, I decide to join the crowd.

I park, put on my mask and walk to the end of the line and prepare for the invasion. I am thinking: “Here we are, we few, we happy few, we gang of geezers.”

Everyone is six feet apart. At the end of the line a Market Basket employee hands me a folded card. I open it and find a Market Basket credit card for $100. “Does this say $100? I ask the MB worker in amazement

It sure does. It’s a donation to the seniors from “a nice couple,” he says. Later I find out that the unannounced one- day gift went to all the seniors shopping at that hour on that day. I estimate that to be well over $4,000 at the very least, given the 40 in line and more who came later. What a nice thing to do.

When I left with my groceries, I saw that I had $60 left on the geezer gold credit card.

Suddenly I felt a pang of guilt. I did not really need the $100.Certainly there were people more needy than me. Although most everything was shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic, and many people were jobless, I was still working.

I thought to give the card and was left on it to another of the gang of geezers, but then I realized that everybody already had $100. So, I wrote out checks to two charities, even though it made me a regifter.


My next excursion was different. Stuck at home with little to read, and with the town library—like everything else—shut down for the duration–I needed books. I had read everything in the house. With everyone buying from Amazon, I figured buying from them would take too long. I needed a book or two now.

Knowing that BJ’s Wholesale always a had a display of books for sale, I drove up to BJ’s in Nashua. Business was booming and everyone was suitably masked.

Upon entering a BJ’s employee handed me a couple of wipes.

“Where are the carts?” I asked. BJ’s has these huge rattling carts that maneuver like World War I surplus tanks

He pointed to the side where another employee, who appeared to be Chinese, was wiping down the handle of a cart. I grabbed the cart, said “Thank you,” and wheeled away.

Five minutes later the same man passed by me pushing a cart near the book display counters. It was the same man, and I suddenly realized that he was not an employee but a customer, like me. I had taken his cart. And, rather than punch me out, he had let me take it.

I felt stupid. I am thinking that he sees me as a bully, as the ugly American, even though, for all I know, he is also an American and not a recent newcomer to our great land.

I wheeled after him. “Hey, man, I took your cart. I’m sorry,” I blurted out through my mask. “I thought you worked here.”

“No problem,” he said.

“I mean, I saw you wiping down the cart and I thought you were an employee, like the guy handing out the wipes. I’m really sorry.”

“No problem,” he said.

His wife appeared and spoke to him in Chinese, which sounded to me like, “Is this the meathead who took our cart?”