Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

When buying a coffee maker is about more than buying a coffee maker March 7, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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I wanted a coffee maker just like this. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2017.


MY COFFEE POT SPRANG a leak. A few days ago I filled the pot for my usual morning cup only to have water gush onto the counter. It took me a moment to determine what was happening before I moved the pot to the sink, then wiped up the mess flooding the countertop and the floor. Only then did I notice the small hole in the bottom of the glass carafe.

No morning cup of joe for me.

Later I went to a local big box store to buy a replacement. Except no replacement was to be found in the size and name brand I desired. So it was either go without coffee for another day or buy the off-brand for $10 with a one-year warranty. That worked.

Now why do I tell you this story? Because it relates to the Coronavirus. Sorry, the COVID-19 tag doesn’t stick with me.

I’d heard stories about stores selling out of antibacterial sanitizers, soap, cleaners, over-the-counter meds… But those reports came from the Twin Cities metro and I doubted that applied to Faribault, an hour from downtown Minneapolis. But it appears people here are stocking up, too, although not me. Not yet.

In the soap aisle, I found shelves nearly cleared of liquid antibacterial soaps. I buy the mega size of liquid soap (not antibacterial) and then pour the soap into a dispenser. Randy commented on that choice, wondering whether I was stocking up because of the Coronavirus. Nope, I always buy the larger size to save money. How could he not notice?

Anyway, then it was on to the coffee maker aisle, where I’d already requested Randy to scout the choices. I didn’t expect a shortage. As we stood there moving boxes, looking for the size and brand I desired, we joked about people buying out the smaller coffee pots due to the Coronavirus.

Now don’t get me wrong, I consider this current outbreak serious. I first became personally concerned several weeks ago when an infected person was treated at a Madison, Wisconsin, emergency room. My second daughter works as an independent healthcare-related contractor in that hospital and learned about the case from her sister in Minnesota who read about it in the media. That didn’t give me much confidence in the system. But Wisconsin has reported no additional cases. So that’s good.

Anyway, back to those coffee makers. When I texted the Minnesota daughter about the shortage, she texted back, “People need their coffee if they will be quarantined.” Yes, they do.

Sometimes you just have to find a humorous angle in a situation or worry can overtake you.

While paying for the coffee maker, soap and other purchases, I asked the big box clerk if customers are clearing shelves of deemed preparatory essentials related to the Coronavirus. She answered in the affirmative.

As we wheeled our cart out the store, past a pallet of antibacterial spray, I wondered whether we should be stockpiling anything. How about you? Are you stocking up due to the Coronavirus? If yes, what are you buying?

At least I now have a working coffee maker. And coffee. That’s something.


FOLLOW-UP added at 5 pm Friday: Within hours of finishing this post on Friday, I learned of the first “presumptive case” of Coronavirus in Minnesota via media reports. An “older adult” in Ramsey County tested positive for the virus, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. At the time of the announcement, the word “presumptive” was used because the Centers for Disease Control had yet to officially confirm the positive test.

The infected individual is now isolated at home in Ramsey County while health officials investigate and attempt to determine who may have been exposed. The individual was on a cruise ship with a known Coronavirus case. State Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm stated in a press conference Friday afternoon that the COVID-19 positive person in Minnesota “largely has been at home.” Symptoms reportedly developed on February 25 with the individual seeking medical attention Thursday.

The focus now is on containment and prevention, officials repeated as they reminded Minnesotans to cover their coughs, wash their hands with soap and water, and stay home if they are sick. They emphasized the need to protect those most at risk—older people and individuals with underlying health conditions. Those exposed to the infected person will be quarantined, officials said.

Our capital city of St. Paul is located in Ramsey County, thus we’re talking a heavily-populated metro area. And the daughter who joked with me about the coffee maker, well, she and her family live in Ramsey County…


© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling