This column is part of a series of reflections from Broadview staff about the coronavirus pandemic.
The shelves were empty at the grocery store. All I managed to get were a few canned goods and a box of dry soup.
For that, I waited an hour in a checkout line. It was the first full day of the COVID-19 pandemic and the huge supermarket was packed with shoppers.
I had just entered the home stretch to the tills when there was a commotion in one of the aisles. Two men got into a heated argument, one claiming to have a gun.
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Alarmed shoppers abandoned their full carts and fled to the exits. Cashiers ducked behind their posts.
I was terrified and felt faint. I let go of my cart and began to retreat past the shoppers behind me. I had my eye on the big doors next to the pharmacy, but the person behind me stopped me.
“It’s okay,” the woman reassured me.
The shopper in front of me agreed.
“Don’t leave, dear. You’re perfectly safe where you are.”
Their reactions calmed me, so I resumed my place in line.
I couldn’t see a thing, but given his loud protests, someone was holding the angry man down. A crowd had gathered and several people captured the incident on their phones as police arrived.
Later that day, I learned from a news report that two Loblaws workers were instrumental in taking the man down. Although it’s true that many shoppers left the scene, I feel ashamed for not being as brave as the employees, or the women who so easily reassured me. I wish I could thank them.
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