There are some words being bandied about lately that I am getting tired of hearing. Like “essential.” They tell us that only “essential” businesses are allowed open, but some of those essential businesses are not essential to all of us. Like liquor stores or recreational pot shops.

We’re also told only to go out to do essential errands, and to buy only essential items. Despite these constant warnings, I still pretty much live the way I always do because I always only do essential errands, always only buy essential items. When one lives as austere a life as I do, when everything has been pared down to the basics, everything is essential. For example, today I went out and bought groceries. It is essential that I drive once a week to keep my ancient bug going, and today was the day, so went and got a few dollars’ worth of gas, which was essential so that I could get to the store where I bought such essential items as fruits, vegetables, as well as a bit of meat and cheese.


Some things are essential for good mental health, such as being with friends (even for those of us with hermit tendencies), but oh, no — that sort of essential thing is not allowed.

So, apparently, some essential things are not essential, and some non-essentials are essential. What a fiasco.

Another term I’m getting tired of is “social distancing.” It’s not the act that bothers me, but the term. In fact, I always prefer strangers — and sometimes even non-strangers — to keep their distance.

Today, when I entered the store, a young woman and her small daughter were nearing the entrance about the same time I was. Since she wasn’t stopping her forward rush, I paused six feet way from them so she could go on, but then she stopped and told me to go ahead. So I did. But instead of waiting until I was inside, both she and her daughter crowded me and went through at the same time. What was the point of that? Even if we weren’t dealing with the current regulations, it would have been rude.

Luckily, I won’t have to deal with such things for another week when it is again time to drive and get my “essential” errands done.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

6 Responses to “Essential”

  1. Maxine Says:

    I was also wondering how people decided ‘essential’ shops or goods. Some open shops are not what I would have labeled ‘essential’.

  2. Kathy Says:

    I know, I know. But I pretty much dislike anything with the word “social” in it. Happy hour is now “social hour.” And what is “essential” on one state isn’t in another. As I said before, liquor stores in Nevada are “non essential” but it would be safer to buy liquor in an uncrowded liquor store than a crowded grocery store. And isn’t that rather puritanical labeling liquor nonessential when it’s just part of the culture in some countries? Prohibition is back! It’s all so subjective. Cueing up “Get Off Of My Cloud.” (Rolling Stones.)

  3. Judy Galyon Says:

    I understand your feelings as I too am a hermit, now. I will have to get groceries soon so my dog can eat, as she is my protection out here in the country! I need a little bit too. Stay safe.

  4. Island Traveler Says:

    Social distancing is tricky when we’re in stores , how to evade when there’s not much room , same for narrow walkways but we do what we can because it is a highly contagious virus .

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