Opinion: Letter to the Editor: How The Closing of a Coffee Shop Made Me Realize That COVID-19 Was Not a Hoax

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: How The Closing of a Coffee Shop Made Me Realize That COVID-19 Was Not a Hoax

As the world scrambled to stock up on water, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper (for some reason), I remained blissfully ignorant of the savageness of COVID-19—that is, until a casual scroll through my Instagram feed led me to a message from Compass Coffee stating that “this too shall pass” and that Compass Coffee was closed indefinitely.

“This must be a joke,” I thought. “Is it April 1st?” No, it wasn’t a joke, and no, it wasn’t April 1st. In fact, it wasn’t even April. It was March 17, the day that the brutality of COVID-19 hit me harder than the losses in federal Thrift Savings Plan accounts. Yes, America was officially in a crisis, and the one place that I could go to escape was closed.

Now, I was in full-on panic mode. I grabbed my ski suit, because that was the closest thing to COVID-19-proof clothing that I owned, goggles, and cleaning gloves for a quick trip to Whole Foods. I looked like a science fiction film character, but I didn’t care. I needed supplies for my virus survival kit and knew that Whole Foods would be fully stocked with all of the essentials recommended by the self-proclaimed experts on social media. Now I wished that I had listened more closely to my coworker who told me that I needed to prepare for the COVID-19 storm.

Instead, I was left with countless messages that told me to weather the storm and to buy toilet paper. Why toilet paper? I digress.

I hastily walked into Whole Foods, to the coffee aisle, and my heart immediately sank. There was no Compass Coffee. The shelves were nearly empty, and the only brand left was one that I’d never dared to try. Here I am, in the midst of an apocalypse, without my favorite coffee to

soothe and envelop me like a comfort blanket. I stared at the empty shelves in disbelief as my phone buzzed, signaling that a new article had posted to my news app. Yes, I even downloaded a news app, a true sign that I was in a crisis. The article was about a holocaust survivor who had just died from COVID-19. Another headline stated that a World War II vet had passed away from the virus. A third story centered on the recent death of a 14th-century Black Plague survivor who…wait, what? That last story was satirical, but it should be obvious where I’m going with this. People were dying from the virus, and I was whining about not having coffee. I was being ridiculous. I needed to find a way to help those who were truly suffering from COVID-19.

I grabbed two bags of an off-brand coffee, along with a few other essentials, and drove straight home. I unfollowed the self-proclaimed commentators on social media and opted for advice from medical experts. I reached out to family members, called my elderly neighbor across the hall, and texted friends to make sure they had what they needed. I donated to local COVID-19 funds, shared articles about helping students who depended on school meals, and prayed. Prayer is what I needed, what we all need.

During this time of crisis, I was reminded that my place of safety was rooted in prayer and faith, not in fear or coffee. I needed to pray for the strength, wisdom, and protection to make it through this storm. Like that Instagram post from Compass Coffee stated, I needed to stand on the faith and truth of knowing that this too shall pass.

LeRonda Brooks


LeRonda Brooks is an economist and a long-time Alexandria resident.