Coronavirus pandemic creates opportunities to connect in new way

Back in the ‘60s and ‘70s (and maybe before that time), we had the “gas wars,” meaning stations competed for your business. You could fill up your tank for a few bucks.

Then in October 1973, an oil crisis became a life-changing experience. I was 19 then and only a few years into driving.

By early 1974, we were dealing with a gas shortage; rationing, in which you could only get gas on designated days. This rationing process was also defined by long lines at stations and gas prices that shot through the roof.

There were too many mornings that found me dragging myself out of bed at 7 a.m., driving down to the local Atlantic Richfield Co. (now Arco) gas station, sitting in my car and waiting in line.

It was maybe an hour’s wait to fill up my car’s gas tank and I was miserable.

Fast-forward to 2020. 

Last Sunday morning, I dragged myself out of bed at 6:45 a.m. and drove to my local Ralphs Store in Gardena. I figured I’d be among the first people to get in the store when it opened at 7 a.m.

To my frustration, there were about 50 people ahead of me. To make matters worse, a Ralphs store worker stepped out to tell us the store would open at 8 a.m., not 7 a.m.

By comparison, the novel coronavirus is 10 times worse than the gas crisis. If you run out of water, it’s back to the store. Out of paper products? Back to the store. Need fresh meat, it’s back to the store.

There is no guarantee that stores will have what you need in stock, but you have to try. 

One major difference is that the wait now is more social. You can talk to other people going through the same needs, fears and frustrations. I got to talking to this fellow standing behind me. His name was William, he was 76 and lives in Hawthorne. 

I learned that he was retired from the food distribution business for the airlines. William immigrated to the U.S. in 1984 from Nicaragua. 

Before we knew it, an hour had passed. William said to me, “wow, time went much faster when you’re in conversation with somebody.” I definitely agreed.

And thus far, people overall seem to have a good attitude about the situation. Despite the long waits at the checkout stands, people have been friendly and courteous. We seem to accept our fate graciously.

On Sunday, I was able to get fresh ground turkey meat for my mom. I came back on Monday, at around 11 a.m. and walked away with a case of bottled water and lots of canned goods. My routine now is to visit my local Ralphs every day on the chance the items I need are in stock. 

So, do you have a story to share regarding the coronavirus outbreak? Maybe it has to do with your shopping experience, too. Or maybe you have shopping tips and advice during this difficult time. Other ideas you can share are, how are you keeping yourself and your family entertained? Are you going to church? What’s it like riding buses? Are you shopping for other family members? Do you have predictions on how or when this pandemic will end? There are thousands of topics you can write about as we stay strong and optimistic in this critical time.

There is no pay for your thoughts, but your words will be archived in history. This is an historic event we are experiencing, and we would love to know if you are well, if you’re hurting, all the things you took for granted, all of the things you miss, what your routine is like and so forth.

Please share your feelings by emailing to us at All stories will be considered for print in our Thursday paper, and will be loaded onto our Culver City News website. Length is of no concern.