(This post was written as an op-ed submission for the local newspaper.)
I went to the local Publix at the usual time, shortly before 9:00 a.m. My first stop was for my favorite bakery bread. There wasn’t any. I will make my own bread, I thought. Then I headed for produce, where there was no sign of depletion. Eggs were next on the list. Whoa! The entire case was empty, completely empty. I glanced down the aisle for paper products; the shelves gleamed white and bare. The next item on my list was chicken, but I could tell from some distance away that the entire poultry and pork section seemed to be stocked with red meat. On closer inspection, I noted that there was enough corn beef to host an Irish feast in every household in Vero Beach.
OK, I knew about the toilet paper. But eggs? Chicken? Bread?
At check-out, I asked the cashier how he was doing. “I feel like I have already worked an eight-hour day,” he said. “There was a long line out the door when we opened at 7:00 this morning.” I have a theory about why this clerk was exhausted only two hours into his workday. It was not because he was so busy; it was because of the toxic energy that came rushing through the doors and infected the store at 7:00 a.m.
I hear that small freezers have been bought up all over town and I read in today’s paper that sales of guns and ammunition are up. Ah, that explains it. It isn’t just toilet paper, now. This is March Madness—real March Madness, I mean. Sports events have been replaced with fear-charged shoppers competing for toilet paper and chicken in grocery stores.
I am more afraid of hoarders with guns than I am of Covid-19. So here is my appeal to those who are storing up more than you need. You are better than that. You have a kind, generous place inside you—you know, the one that functions when you let another driver into that long line of traffic; the one that applies the Golden Rule and knows that our survival depends upon every one of us watching out for all of us.
Go ahead, buy your chicken and paper products for this week, but don’t buy everyone else’s. Trust that our voluntary cooperation in this time of crisis will result in enough for all. And remember to smile at the cashier and say something nice when you check out.