The holiday lines snake around the front of the store. People hesitate in confusion as to where to stand or where to go. The required six feet of space between people casts the queues into confusing tangles. Registers beep. Cart wheels whirr. Almost everyone looks at their toes or adjusts their masks. They scrunch their hands around the cart handles and inspect the swell of treasures heaped inside the belly of the cart before finally jerking in surprise to see they’ve been called up.
The only real words spoken come from the cashier. “Hi. How are you?” Muffled by mask and plexiglass. “Hi. How are you? Need a bag?… DO YOU NEED A BAG?”
The shoppers shake their heads. Eyes white and round. They adjust their mask once more.
“Have a nice day.”
Each person barrels on from these corrals, head down, glances oblique as if it’s a race with every other shopper to escape this madness.