Treasure Hunting in the Time of COVID

We are a small household of three: my husband , myself, and my sister who lives with us. My husband and I had managed to check off two trips on our retirement bucket list before COVID hit in 2020 and put a hiatus on future travel plans. We’d done a two week cruise-tour of Alaska in 2018. We’d done a 28 day road trip to the east coast and the Deep South in 2019. Then the pandemic happened, and for months we limited outings to trips to the pharmacy and a weekly, grocery curb-side pickup. We wore masks when we had to go out. We used hand sanitizers. We attended church and did most of our shopping online. After a year of this, I was frantic to get out of the house.

In 2020, we bought my sister a vintage secretary desk for Christmas. We’d muscled it into her bedroom, and she’d been using one of my office chairs for it. But the chair kept getting moved between her bedroom and my home office, and I really wanted to get her an office chair that could stay put. I balked at buying anything new, though. That vintage secretary’s desk had been found and purchased from a private seller through the Nextdoor app marketplace. I discovered long ago that better quality could usually be had for better prices if we were willing to “hunt for treasure” and buy used. My two home office chairs were Steelcase Citations that originally retailed for $1400. I’d gotten two of the little suckers for $400 each by purchasing them through a used furniture liquidator.

We began searching online for a chair for my sister’s desk, and discovered Office Furniture Now (OFN), a used office furniture store located in downtown Phoenix. They’d posted a selection of their inventory on the Facebook marketplace, and there it was: a like-new, Steelcase ergonomic office chair in basic black for $50. That chair had originally retailed for about same price as my Citations.

We plotted our expedition carefully. Mid-morning, mid-week, well after rush-hour traffic, check. Masks, hand-sanitizers, check. Chair dimensions vs. cargo space in our mini-van, check. The OFN staff was expecting us because I called them the day before to make sure the chair was still available. They verified masks were required, their staff would be masked, and they would help us load the chair.

We bought the chair, loaded it into the mini-van unassisted, and headed for home. It was near lunchtime, and we decided to brave the Arriba Mexican Grill Restaurant in Goodyear, AZ, which was on our route and which had recently reopened their dine-in seating. Surreal, to be sitting in a nearly empty restaurant. The groups of diners seated inside with us were all at least 20 feet away from our booth. We ordered lunch and ate slowly, savoring the experience.

We got the chair home and in place. Since then we’ve ventured out, albeit cautiously, for an occasional meal in a restaurant. We’re still avoiding the gym. We still mask up, hand sanitize, and social distance. Little by little, we’re reclaiming our lives and activities. Adapting to the new normal. Eyeing that bucket list with a little more hope. We can live cautiously without letting fear dominate our lives, damn it. We can work on it little by little, day by day.

Monday, my sister and I swung by a Barnes and Noble after taking her for a chiropractic appointment. We ordered two pumpkin spice coffees, sat in B&N’s little cafe, and savored our coffees. The nearest patrons sat about 30 feet away, and we toasted each other across the social distance. I purchased two cookbooks and a gift bag for my son’s birthday on Tuesday, and we went home. Small victories.

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Kathleen Renee Parrish

Kathleen Renee Parrish

I'm a gleefully retired nuclear engineer, wife, mother and (new) grandmother. We live in Arizona in a rural neighborhood. I retired early to write and travel.