It started out as a normal Saturday morning. Trying to beat the rush I had left the house before 7am. I was greeted by what seemed to be the usual serene experience. A couple, possibly looking a little wide-eyed disinfecting their shopping cart. No one was really freaking out, or rushing. People were smiling, friendly and normal. After a bit, I realized that I was smiling at people and waiting for them to smile back. I was using my smile as a thermometer to gauge if everything was ok. Any flicker of worry would surely seep through their eyes and I would be able to tell…yup this is it! PANIC NOW!
Earlier on in the week, alarms had gone off in my head. A coworker had told me that like me she does online grocery shopping. When she had tried the app no other pick up times were available aside from the following day. Avoiding panic mode I tried it myself on Friday night. I consoled myself in the fact that grocery shopping would be the same as usual. I casually added all my items to the cart, checked quantities and tried to check out. All pick up times were taken for the following day which was Saturday. All that was available was Sunday at 5pm. Seriously?
So, here I was 7:03am. At the grocery store congratulating myself on the fact that I had found a way to gauge the normalcy of the people around me and that of the situation occurring before my eyes. Everything was good. But I had a few sure-fire ways to tell how good everything really was. When I got to the paper towel and toilet paper aisle everything I thought was good went bad. The shelves were bare. In all my decades of living in a first-world country, I can tell you this was some scary shit!
Why at that very moment did I notice some weirdo taking pictures of the empty shelves? I’m sorry dude, you probably aren’t a weirdo. It’s not you, it’s me, I was weirded out. As much as knowing what’s going on around you is great spreading panic is a whole other beast. Yes, the shelves are empty. But why take that pic? So that you can post it online? All that does is put people in panic mode. He must have been a mind reader because he didn’t take the picture with me in it. Then I did what anyone else would have done. I’m sorry guys. I started to freak out! I bought stuff I wouldn’t normally buy just because I was panicked.
All the empty shelves made me wonder why a limit wasn’t in place for how much toilet paper people could buy? I quietly joined the very long line. I waited and wondered if any of the people ahead or behind me were ill. Eventually, I got to the cashier, paid for whatever I had decided needed to come home with me and went to another store. It too was bare shelved. From there it was onto another grocery store closer to home. On the way there I passed the local big box pharmacy only to see approximately 25 women lined up waiting for it to open at 9am. Desperateness lingering shallowly in their eyes as more women joined the line. Sadness and worry drumming deeper in my heart than previously. Is this seriously happening?
Then, inching closer to the grocery store near home I saw a man carrying toilet paper. Was I imagining it? Maybe it was a mirage. I scurried inside and was greeted by full shelves of canned goods, baked bread and fully stocked snack aisles. Maybe, possibly, could it be? Could they have what I need? I went to the toilet paper aisle and not only did they have but they had a ban on mass purchases. It was literally 2 packages per family on any toilet paper purchases. I picked up the toilet paper and sanitary pads paid and left. I was so glad when I got home. I had found everything I wanted and needed. Had I purchased more than usual? Yes, I had. As I said a couple of paragraphs before. I’m sorry but panic mode had set in.
We all want to have enough for our families but we do need to think of others. I don’t know, but maybe stores aren’t completely out of toilet paper. Maybe they’re just waiting for another shipment because they weren’t expecting toilet paper to be so high in demand right before March Break.
Stay well, wash your hands and keep away from others if you aren’t feeling like yourself. despite everything going on we need to look out for one another.