Today is May 27, and I will admit something to you. A little over two months ago, mid-March or so, I wasn’t very concerned about the coronavirus. I thought it was just another kind of flu, and lots of people die every year from the flu. I didn’t think it was any kind of a conspiracy; I just thought everyone was getting a bit overwrought about something that I was pretty sure was going to fade away very soon.
Good thing I got my degree in journalism instead of epidemiology. (Although, come to think of it, if I had studied epidemiology, I might have been going out with the rest of the people frantically buying toilet paper.) As it was, I scoffed at those who were stocking up on supplies as though they weren’t going to see the inside of a grocery store for three years. I had plenty of toilet paper.
When we came back from our quick trip to Denver in mid-March, I was faced with some realities.Mandatory shelter-in-place orders were being put in place. No hair stylists; no pedicures; no leisurely dinners out with friends; no sports on television.
And, no certainty about what would be on the grocery shelves each time I went. I will admit to being very glad that grocery stores were available to us. However, grocery shopping was no longer a matter of making a list and going to the store and buying those things on the list. Because those things on the list may or may not be on the shelves.
And here’s the thing: the more empty shelves I saw, the more terrified I got about running out of something I couldn’t live without. Shopping was no longer predictable. You never knew what was going to be on the shelves. The only certainty — at least for quite some time — was that there would be no toilet paper or disinfectant wipes. So, as I walked the stores those first couple of weeks, I admit to being despondent and scared. Not a great mix for someone who doesn’t handle stress very well. I came home from the grocery store once in the early days, and burst into tears. “It’s like shopping in the old Soviet Union,” I sobbed to Bill.
So grocery lists were of little help. I might have some ideas of what I wanted, but basically I grabbed things that I thought might be necessary, and more important, might not be there again for a long, long time. As such, I ended up with random shapes of pasta. I grabbed odd kinds of cheese. I purchased enough Cornish game hens to feed the Cornish people. I was so desperate for ground beef that I might have knicked someone else’s shopping cart, except they didn’t have any ground beef either. Purell? Pshaw. Tissues? Not a sniff of a chance.
You know what I mean. You were all in the same boat.
This past weekend, we went to Jen’s house for an overnight. She has a nice little suite downstairs where we sleep, but I used her upstairs bathroom on a couple of occasions. I noticed that the toilet paper was, well, barely toilet paper. I didn’t know they made one-ply toilet paper. In order to be effective at all, I had to grab about a fourth of the role. I knew exactly why she owned that toilet paper.
That night after we got home, I got a text from her. She was laughing at some of the things that she purchased hastily and in terror. One of the things she purchased early on was the toilet paper. A desperation purchase.
As was this…..
“I couldn’t find Cream of Mushroom, and this was the only kind of cream-of soup that was available,” she told me. As for me, I never knew that Campbell’s made Cream of Bacon soup.
Two things to think about: 1) Any ideas what Jen could make using Cream of Bacon soup; and 2) Tell me about your funniest and most random purchases during the early days of the quarantine.