By Lynette Sowell
My front porch
We live in strange days right now. When these days stop being strange, or stop feeling strange, is anyone’s guess.
When I was a kid in the 80’s, the Soviet Union – the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics – was a world superpower and the arms race between it and the U.S. was in full swing. I remember watching the news and seeing video of the USSR’s markets, with people walking through aisles to see what was available. The food supply was scant, compared to the abundance we saw regularly in the United States.
Saw. As in past tense of what we “see” in the United States. What we see in our local grocery stores like H-E-B and Walmart, the major shopping outlets in our city.
On Friday after work, I attempted to do some “regular” shopping and instead found what we’ve all seen over the past nearly two weeks: bare shelves of basic food items and cleaning products.
Most Fridays or Saturdays – or any day, for that matter – we didn’t have to wonder if what we wanted or needed would be at the store. Worst case scenario for me? I couldn’t find the freebie item that H-E-B offered with a coupon – buy one, get one.
This is not the norm, what we face right now. Most time, shopping stress or annoyance is mild and part of everyday life. Shopping stress/annoyance can come from people blocking the aisles, others not parking properly in the parking lot, our favorite brand of mayo or dishwashing soap being out of stock, or if the checkout lines are too long for our liking.
But now, we hear people everywhere talking about traveling from store to store, trying to find eggs, milk, meat, rice, beans, peanut butter, distilled water for medical devices, basic items which never run out. Usually.
In a land of abundance, we have created scarcity. Our fear and anxiety have created the scenario in which we find ourselves. By worrying there won’t be enough to go around, freaking out and shopping like crazy, we’ve created a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Yes, we’ve done this to ourselves. Despite the clamoring on social media of “EVERYONE JUST CALM DOWN AND QUIT PANIC BUYING” the panic buying still continues.
Store employees from more than one store, across the country, have recounted the same thing, day after day: the same people come to the store and buy the same things, every day.
Is it a coping mechanism? Is it, let us control the one thing we can in this whole “strange days” we are living in? And yet, it ends up being that by thinking we are taking care of ourselves, we are hurting others.
I am making it a personal goal to do no more shopping in a store until April 3. I don’t know if it will be successful – the dog needs food and I can see us possibly running low on some things, but I am taking stock and realizing what the definition of a “need” truly is.
We might WANT beef stew for dinner. But, do we really NEED that if we have enough supplies to make breakfast for dinner instead? I would rather preserve my household’s health and that of anyone I might come in contact with, by having breakfast for dinner rather than going to the grocery store to pick up ingredients for beef stew.
But we are a spoiled lot of people who are used to getting whatever we want, when we want it. How long will this last? Despite pleas from multiple officials and others, some panic buying continues. If not panic, the subtle compulsion to not be left out of what “everyone else” is buying.
There will be food again, things we want and things we need, if we truly do calm down, use what we have, and share what we can. I’m waiting now for a friend to pick up a five-pound bag of rice that she needs. And someone else is giving me a dozen eggs.
If anything, our taking care of each other and not only taking care of ourselves first is what will get us through these strange days.
Be safe, stay home, and if you have any GOOD NEWS stories, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are still here working on news and things are happening in Copperas Cove.