More localities are going into lockdown, but we're still allowed to venture out for essentials like gas, food and supplies. When heading out into society, I always bring gloves, a stylus and a pen, and I leave my dedicated shopping bag behind (unless you thoroughly disinfect it every time, plastic bags are, sadly, safer).
Gas is the most recent thing I left home for. I'm driving less, but I still need to bring gas back to the farm for the on-property-only farm truck, the chainsaw, the wood chipper and even the mower (mowing season started early down here). The gas pump at my nearest station is self-serve, requiring users to touch the pump handle and the credit card touchscreen. I don't.
I always bring:
- Latex gloves* (don't worry if you don't have these, see below)
- A cheapie capacitive stylus that I got as a freebie at some conference
- A pen
The simple guidelines I follow:
- No gloves for touching anything I own (including the stylus)
- Gloves for touching things I don't own
For instance, my sequence at the gas pump:
1. Open gas caps on my car and/or gas cans (no gloves)
2. Dip credit card into reader (no gloves), careful not to touch dipper housing
3. Use stylus to punch in zip code on keypad (no gloves)
4. Stylus goes back into the little-used side thigh pocket on my Carhartts, business end pointed down. This will be disinfected later.
5. Put glove on, right hand only (to save gloves)
6. Grab gas pump handle
6. Select fuel by hitting button using the gas pump handle or nozzle itself
7. Fuel car
8. Return gas pump to dock
9. Remove glove (using this technique), throw it in pump-side trash can
10. Affix gas caps and go
11. Wash hands as soon as possible where you don't have to touch more surfaces
In this manner, I believe I'm reducing my exposure to potential COVID-19 germs, though I'm obviously not a medical professional. (Not being careful enough with the potentially germy tip of the stylus is probably the weak point of this system.)
The stylus comes in handy for both physical-button keypads and capacitive touchscreens, which is what my nearest supermarket has at the self-checkout. However, the local Lowes where I get supplies has a resistive screen. After dipping your credit card to pay, you must sign this resistive screen, typically using the all-plastic stylus attached to the machine.
I do not touch the attached stylus. The rubbery capacitive tip of my own stylus will not register on a resistive screen, but all you need is something hard, so I tilt my stylus to make the edge of the hard collar surrounding the tip come into contact with the screen. This is crude, but enough to get it to register. Your signature will come out way sloppy, but it's sufficient to get the payment to go through.
Capacitive orientation, making contact with the rubbery tip.
Resistive orientation, pressing the hard silver part against the screen.
At the animal feed collective, the clerk provides a paper receipt that must be signed in order to pay. I never touch this receipt. If it's curly I flatten it using the stylus held in my left hand, and sign it using my own pen held in the right hand. I don't take the receipt. The pen and the stylus then go in different pockets.
*Gloves. I have a small stash of latex gloves on hand for certain farm tasks, but recognize that you may not (and they'll probably go into short supply, if they haven't already). Absent the latex gloves, I would probably carry a dishwashing glove that I'd turn inside out after each use, and would bleach at home.
Failing that, I'd get creative: A regular glove covered in a plastic bag, maybe? I think some protection is better than no protection at all.
Do you have any crazy rituals you follow when venturing out for supplies? I'm especially eager to hear how you shop for food--I can't figure out a good way to reduce potential germ transmission, short of disinfecting everything before we bring it home (and how do you disinfect a pineapple?).
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