Ted lives down the street from me with his wife Pat. Under usual circumstances, they manage pretty well. However, Pat recently broke her arm, which has made things more difficult around the house. It’s easy to imagine that they aren’t the only folks coping with an extra challenge on top of the current situation. It was pretty windy outside, so we talked in Ted’s garage, hoping that would reduce the wind noise when I filmed.
This is part of a series of interviews with Ann Arbor residents, talking about personal experiences adjusting to (and adapting during) the COVID-19 crisis. Interviewed Mar 29, 2020
So, I’m talking to my friend, Ted. Hi! Hi, Ted! And if you don’t mind sharing, how old are you, Ted? I’m 81. Alright, excellent. I’m making a video about how older people in Ann Arbor are coping. So my first question for you is: how have you changed your lifestyle since we have started dealing with this COVID 19 virus? Well, I’m helping a lot more. It doesn’t have to do with the virus, it has to do with my wife having a broken arm. She can’t cook, so we have to cooperate on how to do that. The best thing we’ve discovered is that she sits in a chair and tells me what to do and then dinner gets on the table on time. It’s wonderful! So, now, if you ignore Pat’s broken arm, I’m curious: what other aspects of your lifestyle have changed? Getting the food to cook has gotten more complicated. What are you doing? What precautions are you taking? Because you obviously still need food, you need groceries. What are you doing? I’ve been going to various grocery stores that we like. Some are better than others at doing a curbside pickup. The last one that we went to that was pretty good was the Produce Station. They had more people and they actually called up on the phones. They’re not a big store, they’re a little more accessible. We got stuff that was just right. The other place that we went was By the Pound, which is just sot of kitty-corner across South Industrial… no, it’s around the corner from Produce Station. They have all their stuff — that you used to dig out of the bins — put in bags so you can go around and grab a bag, grab a bag, grab a bag. It’s a small store so it’s not crowded with people, they don’t have a lot of trade. Do you find that you’re going out a lot, still, to get stuff? People from church have been bringing us food. Oh, that’s great! That really staves off the need to go out. We’ve had wonderful food from many friends at church. Do you feel like that that’s a good strategy, to get other people to help and bring you things that you need? Well, we didn’t do anything, we just told them we were broken and they started bringing it. So how often would you say that you end up having to go out and actually shop in public places? Probably a couple times a week at most. Are you shopping as frequently as you would under normal circumstances? No! No, I like to go to the grocery store. I also went to Arbor Farms. Arbor Farms worked out okay but that was actually in the store before the shut-down started. I definitely don’t go out as much. There are some folks who are not as lucky as you and Pat, who have each other to keep company. True. Do you have any advice for people who are living alone and feeling like going out and shopping is an activity that just is something to do? Do you think that people should still be going out like they did before? Well… I think it’s… there are other tricks. Kroger, out here on Maple Road, has all the stuff you need right at the front of the store, so you can go in the produce station and go and get the gallon of milk right there in the front aisle opposite the cash registers and then zoom through a checkout. If you go early in the morning, there are mostly older people but not all and so you’re not in there very long. That’s another kind of trick. So how are you isolating? What are you and Pat doing to make sure that you don’t catch something from somebody else? We’re watching a lot of re-runs of NCAA basketball tournaments. We’re watching a fair amount of TV. Everything takes more time since I’m slow at doing it so that keeps us busy. I’m doing the laundry, too. That’s not new but everything is harder now because she can’t really do. Lately she’s been getting up and down but, so that’s a factor that doesn’t affect a lot of people. Our kids are after us not to go out at all. What do you think of that? Do you think your kids are right? Well, our son thinks the doctor neighbor across the street thinks he has it. He hasn’t been able to be tested, so he’s pretty adamant about it. He’s had fever and stuff like that and so he’s kind of keen on us not going out. I think because we’re older— I tend to get like a chest cold in the winter anyway — so I might be a little more vulnerable. I’m keen not to catch it. You don’t have it do you? No… I hope I don’t… I don’t think I do, but you and I have been very careful to stay six feet apart right now… I know, I know. A neighbor came by and he asked if we needed anything and I came out and he stepped back, off the porch like you just did (kept the six feet) and then he brought us some wonderful bread that Zingerman’s bakes that’s called State Street Wheat, fabulous sandwich bread. I said I got money and he said, “No, let’s just run a tab.” He didn’t want the money because of course there’s germs on the money. That was another factor is this guy came by. He lives next door to you, Bob. Bob is great! Yeah. Oh, that’s fabulous. Well, that is great… Now when he goes by we knock on the window but we don’t go out. He waves. That is excellent. Connection is good, but now people are more reluctant to come in the house. They’re really kind of more aware. Everybody’s more aware. because Gretchen Whitmer did a good job of locking us down. That’s right. We need the premier from China to come and keep us all isolated! (laughter) I think we’ve gotten a little political there, Ted! So I thank you for helping me with my video and I think you have some good advice for people, Ted. It’s okay if you, kind of, keep it up, keep your courage up. That’s it. That’s right. We’ve got to have high spirits. Thank you for coming around and worrying about us. Thanks, Ted! Bye! Bye!