Why Does Grandma Wash the Groceries?

Monday, June 22, 2020Jennifer Milburn

One of the great things about being trained for decontamination is having the knowledge to keep my own home germ free during a pandemic. However, the bad thing about being trained for decontamination is having seen all those scary videos on cross contamination. These videos are a surefire way to turn anyone into a class 5 germaphobe even in the best of times.

My son has watched with amusement (and teenage eye rolled) as I wiped down all the groceries before  I put them away, sprayed down the entire kitchen with commercial grade disinfectant before washing my hands,  and sprayed every doorknob I may have touched. This brought up an interesting conversation in my house. Which habits from the pandemic will stick around for entire generations to come?

Those of us who had parents or grandparents that lived through the Great Depression have stories and observations about odd things they did as a result of living through that time, or even carried over to the next generation. For example, my grandmother was all about collecting sugar packets like so many from that generation who had to live with food rations. Every drawer in the kitchen had a small stash of sugar packets, just in case. My grandmother and my mother both had a small hoard of twist ties and out of habit I still pile some on top of the microwave. My mother, who bought her first car during the fuel shortages, was fanatical about not allowing the tank to get below ¼ tank.

What habits we will continue after we resume our “new normal” lives? Will drive-in movie theaters make a comeback? Will we stop shaking hands at networking groups? Will everyone continue to hoard toilet paper? Will my grandchildren whisper to their parents, “why does Grandma wash all the groceries?” and my children reply, “shh, it’s from coronavirus, Grandma doesn’t like to talk about it.”


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Jennifer Milburn
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