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Dear Annie

Putting judgement aside in grocery aisles

Annie Lane, syndicated columnist

Dear Annie: I know that these are trying and difficult times. For most of us, we have not seen hardship like this in our lifetimes.

My husband is an essential worker, and we worry daily that he could get this illness, as he and our youngest have asthma and any upper respiratory illness is dangerous for them.

This past weekend, my husband and I got up early to go to the store. Many news stories urge people to shop for just what they need for two weeks of groceries to minimize their time in public. We decided this was the best course of action for our family to reduce our chances of exposure.

Annie, we have a family of six, plus pets. I made a careful list and menu, and we made sure to purchase only what we needed, and any items that asked that customers only purchase one of, we did. When shopping for two weeks, where five or six people are home for three meals a day, yes, our basket was on the full side, but we were NOT hoarding.

It might have looked that way because we had a couple of large items, such as pet food and toilet paper, which made our basket look a lot more full than it was.

I was honestly concerned for our safety because people were giving us hostile looks, muttering about hoarders and getting out their phones to take pictures. Our cashier was extremely surly to us and made us feel awful.

I urge everyone to please, take a step back, treat others with compassion and stop judging. Maybe people with full baskets are shopping for two weeks, or maybe they are shopping for more than one household because they have an at-risk family in another house. Whatever you do, please don’t make them feel unsafe, don’t take pictures or videos, don’t glare at them and don’t try to shame them. The only way we can get through this is with kindness.

Thank you for being a sane voice in this world, Annie, and please, continue to thank those first responders and essential workers, everyone! — Feeling Judged in Texas

Dear Feeling Judged in Texas: Let’s start by thanking your husband for being on the front lines. I am sorry that you had to encounter that type of judgment from people at the grocery. No one should take another person’s picture in a public store to shame them when they don’t know what is happening on the other side. You could have been buying supplies for a food bank.

It sounds like you took all the proper steps by writing a list, planning your meals and following the store’s guidelines. As long as you know in your heart that what you were doing was right, try not to worry about what other people think.

When you place your head on your pillow at night, you know that you are not hoarding and you’re supporting your family. The people who tried to shame you won’t have that same peace.

One practical solution to avoid this unnecessary headache could be for you and your husband to use separate shopping carts while you are in the store together. He could put all the large items in his, and you could put the food in yours.

Editor’s note: “Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.

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