(Wash your hands! We'll need you when this is over!)
Mother Mary’s “LOCAL SOUP.”
Serving up tasty local tidbits …
With a touch of salt and an occasional pinch of spice … as needed!
...Cuban Missile Crisis, JFK, 1980’s oil embargo, dot-com crash, 9-11, real estate bubble ...
“Mom, you’ve been around a long time. Tell me … have you ever seen anything like this before … anything we can look back at to help us figure out what to do?”
That was the question that had triggered my personal version of “We didn’t light the fire.” And the only answer I could come up with was, “No. We are in uncharted territory.”
That was a few nights ago … the Night of Our Despair.
The Night We Almost Surrendered.
Into Your Life It Will Creep ...
Here’s the problem that knocked us to our knees. A year and a half ago, my son opened Palm City Farms Produce & Market all shiny and excited to serve our local community. The Covid-19 virus had suddenly changed us from a small local store into an essential industry providing food for a needy and frightened public. That’s a heavy weight on anybody’s shoulders.
Since I’m old enough to talk first-hand about the Cuban Missile Crisis, I’m writing this from social-distancing jail. It was always our plan to kick me out of the store when the first case was reported in Martin County. But for some reason, the fact that the first case was in Palm City where we live turned out to be more of a kick in the gut than we expected.
It starts when you’re always afraid…
Who was the patient? How long had she been sick? What had she done in the mean time? Did she hand us money at the store? And then there were two cases. How many other cases were out there we didn’t know about? Was one of them the guy who sneezed on me in CVS?
Most of our customers are thoughtful and wonderful. They like shopping in our store because it’s easier to maintain social distance in our less-crowded open space. They’re in and out quickly. But, we’re there nine hours a day … and suddenly every new customer was a potential threat.
So, the night he asked the question, my son Rob the Idealist was at war with Rob the Family Man. His sense of duty demanded him to continue serving the community. But he explained, “I have to protect my family … and I have to protect our employees.” That was emotional enough. What followed choked him up. “So, I have to close the store.”
He would have stayed and run it alone (We’re more afraid for him than he is.) But even then he could bring the virus home.
There appeared to be No Way Out!
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re tired, shocked, and scared … and it’s especially hard to be creative.
But thank goodness, my favorite heroine Miss Scarlett was right: Tomorrow turned out to be another day!
By the next morning, the shock had worn off. Rob woke up with a new mind set: Don’t focus on the virus destroying our plan for the future. Come up with a new plan.
And the first premise is: don’t let fear make you stupid. The key to beating this bug is keeping your distance. So, instead of closing the store, he’s going to reorganize it in a way that separates us from our customers and our customers from each other.
He’s not sure exactly what that will look like yet, but we’ll probably be switching to a reduced menu, take-out model. To set it up and work out the logistics, we’ll be shutting down for a day or two this week, most likely Wednesday and Thursday, but hopefully we’ll be open again by the weekend.
We’re also looking for ways to offer more proteins and staples to help Palm City Farms residents stay as close to home as possible. And we’re trying to bring in more food trucks for take-out.
But don’t be surprised when we get things wrong. Please be patient. We’re making this up as we go.
And you can help a lot if you go to our Facebook Page or Website and let us know what kinds of goods you want us to carry, how much, and how often you need them so that we don’t screw up and stock all the wrong stuff.
And, of course, all this is subject to change. If one of us or our employees comes down with so much as a case of the sniffles ... we're closing in a flash. The same if enough folks in Martin County catch this thing to make it dangerous.
Stop hey ... what's that sound?
All that groaning and moaning you hear is the sound of every small business and every person in America going through some version of what we’re going through. We can’t let fear paralyze us. We have to keep our eyes open so that we can recognize the real dangers and see the opportunities that present themselves. And most of all, we have to be willing to learn new tricks.
But most importantly … keep believing in the future. That's what gives us a reason to fight back.
This Pandemic will end. And when it does, most of us will wake up like Rip Van Winkle, alive and well in a world we no longer recognize. Sure … we’ll have to clean up the rubble it left behind, but the sun will still be shining on our backs and the birds will still be singing.
Until then, keep your distance, wash your hands … and always carry your towel.
And shop when you do at the small local businesses who are evolving before our eyes in an effort to keep our local economy viable and make your social-distancing more livable.
But when you do ... don't expect the same convenience we've always enjoyed before.
Stay calm, stay patient, and most of all stay kind. We're all in this rocking boat together!
Yell at ‘em from the drive-thru that Mary sent you!
Palm City Farms Produce & Market, is only minutes from Martin Downs, Pt. St. Lucie, Indiantown, and Okeechobee City at the corner of SW Citrus Blvd & SR-714.
Oh, and we carry local craft beer!
3706 SW Citrus Blvd,
Palm City, FL, 34990.
From Mother with love..