Sandy is resting in her stable

Here in the Midwest we have Meijer, a big-box store like Walmart except way nicer. Meijer is pretty terrific.


I shop there every week. I go Saturday mornings now, early, hoping for the best selection. I wear nitrile gloves; we have some thanks to our son who used them on the job until he was furloughed. Friday the CDC recommended wearing masks in public. I tried to find my sawdust masks in the garage but had no luck; the place is in considerable disarray. I’ll do a deep dive later. Off I went.

I worry most about the pandemic while I’m in Meijer. There are just so many people there! And some aren’t good about keeping their distance. I am usually a charge-ahead shopper — let’s see how fast I can burn through this list and get out of here! But now, I have to choose deep patience. I wait as long as it takes for a clear path before I move. But that means I just expose myself for that much longer.

They had toilet paper, ground beef, and chicken breasts this week! Small victories.

When I got to the checkout there was a new plexiglass shield between me and the cashier. As I loaded bags into my cart I noticed this:

It’s a Meijer tradition: since 1962, every store has had a mechanical horse for kids to ride. And since 1962, every ride has cost just a penny.

I’d never paid much attention to Sandy. My kids were never interested in her when they were small. Even though I’ve shopped at Meijer for more than 25 years, I didn’t even know her name was Sandy until I saw that sign saying they’d put her away.

It makes obvious sense to put Sandy away right now. But for whatever reason, this one small thing brought the enormity of this pandemic home to me. I stood in line holding back tears.

Other pandemic reports from fishyfisharcade and -N- today.


28 responses to “Sandy is resting in her stable”

  1. Richard Avatar

    Jim I’m sorry it made you sad.

    From my distant perspective it made me smile that a corporation was kind enough and smart enough to make something positive out of something negative.

    Best Wishes from Chicago.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      That’s true! They’re trying hard to take good care.

  2. Victor Villaseñor Avatar
    Victor Villaseñor

    I’m also the only one going out, saturday’s early morning too, also doing the careful empty aisle hunting, most of the people at 8am in the market are the persons restocking things, when I get to the cashiers most of folks are starting to come by, nothing is scarce right now, but they control how many, say, packs of toilet paper are sold per customer.

    Stay safe Jim, I hear homemade face masks will help, Im lucky as my wife’s work mean we have a stash of face masks, hand sanitizer and gloves at home, (also, and less fun, needles, assorted vacutainers and some other sterile bottles and gizmos).

    One bad sneeze at my place, and a syringe appears out of nowhere, been managing not to sneeze!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      8 am is when Meijer is best stocked, but it’s also most crowded then because lots of people have the same idea I do. I’m considering trying early afternoon next week — the parking lot sure looks a lot less full then. I have some handkerchiefs coming from Amazon, they should be here Wednesday. I’ll fashion some face masks out of them.

  3. Christopher May Avatar
    Christopher May

    Sometimes it’s the smallest things that can leave the biggest marks on us. Indeed, a remember a piece in a National Geographic photography guide about photographer David Alan Harvey and how he works to “find the symbol” for whatever he’s photographing. By finding some small piece of the whole, he grabs the attention of his viewers and lets them fill in the blanks for the big picture. I think it’s a powerful tool and try to employ it when I can. This shot about Sandy resting in her stable is a great example of it. It’s only one tiny piece of the whole pandemic situation but it’s highly representative of everything.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      That’s exactly why it hit me so hard. I’m glad I had my iPhone in my pocket to record the moment.

  4. Russ Ray Avatar

    I SO wish I had gotten a picture of this! I’ve been trying to start a COVID-19 blog called “Signs of the Times” which is just to capture all the strange signs that I’ve seen so far since all this started. Just haven’t had time…

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      If you start that blog you’re totally welcome to use that photo.

  5. tbm3fan Avatar

    In general I am an introvert especially around all new people and that goes way back. So not a crowd fan. I am a moderate extrovert around people I know and a definite extrovert inside my office which is my stage. Consequently I am not having much issues with cabin fever like others. I go to a store once a week now and use PPE from my office while I still have it. Gloves galore but only a few masks left. My wife works in a nursing home and she is on edge. Some nursing homes have seen their entire work force quit over this virus and fear of bringing it home.

    I did go down to the USS Hornet on Saturday as it is closed to the public. Easy to distance there. Six on board spread out over an aircraft carrier enabled me to paint. Painting is a relaxation for me as I get to stand back and go “that looks good.” Besides I needed to see the ship and make sure she was Ok.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      There’s a report here in Indiana of a nursing home where 11 residents have died of this. So your wife is justifiably on edge. Six in one aircraft carrier? You could work for days and not encounter another human.

  6. brandib1977 Avatar

    This makes me sad as well but I’m so glad someone thought to put it away for a while. Also, I’m super jealous that you can shop at Meijer. The closest to me is about an hour away so going there is a treat. When I travel I often look for Meijer because their fresh made salads are delicious and a bargain. Great for a picnic!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I remember when Meijer came to Indianapolis in 1994. I thought, “the world does not need another giant store.” I even resisted shopping there at first. But now I can’t imagine a world without Meijer. I moved to Zionsville, a suburb, a few years ago at about the same time they opened a Meijer right across the street from my subdivision. Bliss!

      1. brandib1977 Avatar

        Lucky you! It is a good store. The towns around me only have Walmart(which I call the Evil Overlord) plus Aldi and Kroger. My small town has a locally owned grocery store and I tend to either go there or Aldi. I love Aldi but Meijer has some good things they don’t carry.

  7. Dan Cluley Avatar
    Dan Cluley

    I had the same reaction last week when I saw that sign.

    I don’t know how many store options you have, but in mid Michigan some Meijer stores seem much busier than others.

    I am shopping for both my girlfriend Jen on the west side of Lansing and my Mom in the suburbs and right now am getting as much as possible at the smaller quieter Mason store and then a very quick trip in Lansing for anything I couldn’t find. Last week I went half an hour before they closed and it wasn’t bad.

    1. Peggy Avatar

      I am the shopper in our house. My father is 77 and a smoker, so his lungs are shot. And yeah the little things hit you the most. Just the fact of waiting in line to enter a shop is very surreal. Then trying to remember to only touch what you definitely want to buy, no reading ingredients and stuff, that’s a hard habit to break. We don’t have mechanical toys near us, but that would have got me too.

      1. Jim Grey Avatar

        The shops here haven’t started making us wait in line to go in — yet. Meijer is so huge I’m not sure how they’d manage it anyway.

        1. Peggy Avatar

          They lock the doors and have someone standing there.

    2. Jim Grey Avatar

      There are two other Meijers I could drive to reasonably, but both are in the Indy metro and I’m sure are no less busy than the one I go to — which is within walking distance of my house. So I might as well keep going to it!

  8. Joe shoots resurrected cameras Avatar

    We had Meijer in Ohio too, I remember riding the horsie as a child.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Ah, memories!!

    2. J P Avatar

      My children spent a lot of time in Sandy’s saddle. They learned early lessons in value and would accept not riding a horse that cost 25 cents somewhere else when the horse at Meijer was a penny. Which worked because they got a ride virtually every time they went to Meijer.

      1. Jim Grey Avatar

        That’s wonderful! And your kids have a good simple childhood memory.

  9. Denny Gibson Avatar

    Nice reporting on a sign of the times and a nice job by Meijer. There’s a Meijer not too far from me where I’ve shopped occasionally. I don’t recall a horse but I’m sure that’s a lack of recall and not a lack of horse. I’ll be on the look out next time.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      It’s one of those things that’s easy to miss.

  10. Kit Hoekstra Avatar
    Kit Hoekstra

    Yesterday my six-year-old grandson said to my daughter-in-law, “Mama, the world is different now.” Today I saw the sign about Sandy resting in her stable at the Knapp’s Corner Meijer in Grand Rapids. Thus far, I’ve kept myself together during this unreal situation, but between the words of my sweet grandbaby and Sandy being gone, I’m having a very difficult time holding back my tears.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      We’re all grieving a loss. Let the tears flow.

  11. Connie S Avatar
    Connie S

    Jim: I want to Meijer yesterday for the first time since March. Seeing that Sandy was gone for now, I had the same reaction you did!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m actually somewhat relieved to know it wasn’t just me!

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