I ventured to the grocery store on Friday the 13th after being holed up in the house for 2 days with one sick kid the day before. They were both out for spring break on Friday, and of course, every 10 minutes I heard how hungry they were.
They did have a point. Their usual supply of pop tarts, fruit and chips had been consumed. The milk left in the jug was starting to reach the questionable stage. And I was running dangerously low on Mt. Dew. In the last few months I'd gotten into a really bad habit of just going to the store when I needed something and not really having a stockpile.
So when my husband got home from work earlier than normal Friday night, I told him I need to go to the store. Even though I really didn't want to. I refuse to shop with the boys since it's such a task that my patience just can't handle.
While we discussed the happenings of his day and the COVID-19 talk, I was clipping coupons on the grocery store app. I kind of had a game plan, and since I knew shopping would probably take me longer than I expected, I asked if he wanted to eat take out. We narrowed it down to two options.
It was raining when I got to town, and cold enough to merit me needing my gloves. I left them on in the store until I couldn't stand it any longer. I'm sure I got some strange looks because of the gloves, but as I spent more time in the store, the strange looks came from other people reacting from the bare shelves. More than once I heard, "this is just nuts," or "can you believe this?" From total strangers.
At this point in the game, I hadn't been able to find any heads of lettuce and regular bananas. I was able to substitute with bagged lettuce and organic bananas—two items I hardly ever buy. As I gathered the other items on my list, I encountered more of not finding what I needed. The Dillon's I was in was completely out of ground beef, milk, eggs and some paper products.
I left with most of my grocery list bought at Dillon's, but texted my husband to tell him of my frustration of the missing items and I'd have to go to Wal-Mart too. Luckily our Wal-Mart had the things I needed. I had to hunt for the ground beef as the 5-pound rolls I normally buy were out. I happened to look over in one of the cold cases in the aisle and found some 1-pound rolls of frozen ground beef. Another woman was looking for ground beef and I shared what I found in the frozen section with her.
Since it was raining I skipped the taco truck for supper and went to a barbecue place. There were two patrons eating and two guys behind the counter, and me. Kind of weird for after 7 p.m., on a Friday night. While I waited for my food I expressed my grocery shopping frustration on my social media. I posted a pic of the empty milk case at Dillon’s.
I have to say this was not my first experience with shortages in my lifetime. I remember after the events of Sept. 11, 2001, we had long lines for gas because they feared there'd be no fuel available (and we lived in Oklahoma at the time). I remember calling home and asking Dad if I should go fill up. Honestly, I don't remember grocery shopping at the time because we all just sat glued to the television. I remember telling my sister after those events that at least we'd have milk and bread because we had Mom and Dad’s fuel card. We were the epitome of broke college students at that point.
Since my Friday night shopping trip, I've heard from family and friends about similar experiences at the stores, and one of the large retailers has shortened their store hours to accommodate the restocking and sanitizing process. I hope it works.
But part of me remains frustrated at the reaction of the humans I share the world with. Retail lives or dies on supply and demand. If the shelves are empty and not quickly restocked, the consumers will go find one that is and shop there, and in turn make it more difficult for the next person.
As a journalist, I try to find the facts, and seek the most accurate information on the subject. But my next statement is purely my opinion. I sure hope those who are panic buying are running out of room to store all their purchases. There are other ways to react during a crisis and panic shouldn't be the first reaction. I sure hope those who need groceries and supplies are finding a way to get it done.
I'm truly disappointed with our country and the state it's in. I hope these issues with coronavirus are only temporary. I've been trying to write a blog post about the 3rd anniversary of the Starbuck fire for more than a week now. Now it doesn't even seem relevant to write about. A sentence in the first paragraph of that draft post explains why I believe my life is defined as before the fire and after the fire. I believe coronavirus will be a defining moment in the history of our country, of our freedoms.
I'm just ready for it to all simmer down and for the green grass to come out. With the rain in the forecast this week and next, maybe I'll get one of my wishes before the country can heal from this virus.