the city of angels has empty shelves


I could’ve walked. Trader Joe’s is less than 500 feet away from home. But I planned to visit a couple of grocery stores before teaching and it was raining. It wasn’t terrible getting into the parking lot but it was unusually challenging. Of course there wasn’t any toilet paper. I was glad I did the bulk of my grocery shopping a couple of weeks ago. I speculated that things might go south and here.. we .. are...

The pasta and rice shelf was empty and there wasn’t a single can of beans. I left with eggs, butter, and milk. Life feels like the Wild West and we’re facing an unfamiliar frontier. I actually thought of basics that the Ingalls family would get before a big storm. And I broke my Lent and purchased ONE bottle of wine, Liberte. I have hopes that sunnier days follow the quarantine. The line for the registers snaked toward the back of the store. Everyone was kind and calm as staff created order within the crowd chaos.

It’s shocking and sobering. I live in a nice neighborhood in LaLa Land. George Clooney and William Shatner live up the street. No one expects to see scarcity in a prosperous neighborhood. Universal Studios up the road has closed down. I’ve never seen that happen in all my life. The empty shelves scenes repeats itself across the country as my friends share their grocery shopping photos. Their Texas looks like My California. Even Whole Foods aka Whole Paycheck has empty shelves.

My neighbor who waited til later in the evening to run to the store came home with only microwave popcorn and coffee creamer.

I headed to the Asian market to find rice, lentils, coffee, and soy sauce. Parking was a tiny wait but not as bad as getting into Trader Joe’s.

Cheerful Guy Standing in Line for Register: “Come on in! They still have rice here.”

He helped me grab a bottle of soy sauce. His line had a mix of young and old people. Some had scrubs on. A hospital was across the street.

Cheerful Guy: “There’s still food here because the white people are afraid to shop here.”

He had a point there. Even though it was predominantly a Filipino grocery store, items deemed Asian, are spooking people out. Everyone was kind there too. A lot of the elderly had masks on. A lady held my space so I can grab some meat. We chatted a bit. She was a nurse and was bracing herself for the next couple of weeks. We both hoped for the best and thought that a society taking drastic actions to help manage the uncertainty was a wise move. We wished each other good luck and good health before parting ways.


I left with the items I needed and stopped at the Filipino bakery next door owned by a family friend. I was hoping to say hello but Auntie wasn’t there. I left with a fresh bag of pan de sal and ube rolls. At least I can have some comfort food and think of family while sitting out this time while far away from them. I told my family I may visit at the end of the month. I hope the world will be in a better place then.

This is going to be an interesting time.

As an introvert, my teaching time is my social time. I normally go on silent mode during weekends and rarely speak to people in order to write, practice, and recharge. I’m going to miss the time I enjoy being with my students. Everyone will have time to practice now. I let a few students and parents know that the isolation may be stressful so my online lessons will be extended so that we can cheer each other.

I have a couple of students that said they definitely wanted to continue with piano lessons in person; one a teenager and the other a school nurse. The school nurse is married to a doctor who is a specialist in infectious diseases. I like to ask her loads of questions. When they start to worry, I will worry more. For now, all we can do is stay calm, wash our hands, and take care.

My neighbor who could only find popcorn and coffee creamer brought me flowers. She had locked herself out of her home yesterday by mistake while doing laundry and I invited her in to stay dry from the rain while we figured out how to get her back in. It was very sweet of her that despite not having a successful grocery store mission, she wanted to bring me flowers.


When the world feels uncertain, be kind. Be kind to your neighbors and the folks at the grocery store. The shelves might be empty at the moment but we are not empty. Take care and good health to you.