Sunday, March 22, 2020

Supermarket Sweep

First of all, thanks to all of you who have been sharing and recommending my blog in the last twenty-four hours. I very much appreciate your support and I hope I will live up to your faith in me. Of course, the first thing I did this morning was oversleep...

As someone who is self isolating, I have been observing a growing plan of action out there in HoCo land that concerns me. Perhaps my concern is unjustified. I’m putting it out there to my readers for feedback today.

Most of us have never lived in a culture where food and product shortages are routine. I grew up reading about how they plagued the lives of citizens in the Soviet Union. And of course we were taught that the long lines at the shops and the chronic food shortages were the direct result of communism. “We don’t have that because we are a democracy.” Of course, capitalism figured in there somewhere but that’s not the simplistic lesson this elementary school student took away from these stories.

But now, because of our own panic buying, we face those same shortages. And, due to social distancing, we have the long lines. It seems awfully similar to my grade school textbook photographs. 

What we do have these days that the Soviet citizens did not have is social media. It’s not surprising the people are using it to share the information they have about what stores have what highly desired items, in particular:

Toilet Paper
Disinfecting wipes
Fresh fruits and vegetables

It looks to me as though people have created a Covid-19 survivalist game where the goal is to fill all the items on one’s shopping list by hopping from one store to the next, using clues gained from social media. A sort of all-ColumbiaHoCo Supermarket Sweep, if you will. 

But this is not a virtual game. This involves leaving the house, going to multiple locations, coming in contact with shopping carts and store shelves and check out clerks at each stop. Here’s my question: doesn’t this put you and every person you come in contact with in more danger? Is this style of seek and find shopping ultimately a scarily good way of crossing-pollinating contagion?

Under normal circumstances, if we couldn’t find butter at our usual supermarket, we’d look at the next one we shop at. The next neighborhood over, or the one we hit after work or school pick up. That’s the way we are accustomed to thinking. But what if it would be healthier for everyone if we just stuck with one or two closer stores and accepted the shortages there?

Would it? Could we cope with the unfairness of it all if the Clarksville Giant had ground beef and we didn’t? Or if the Oakland Mills LA Mart had a new supply of toilet paper and our store had just sold out? How would that play out? I am just imagining in my head a bunch of Peanuts-like heads upturned shouting, “It’s not fair!”

I am not a medical professional or a scientist. So I am putting it out to my readers. Is my concern worthy of further thought, or is our growing habit of shopping safari completely safe to us and our neighbors? I’d like to get enough factual feedback to post on this tomorrow or the next day.

In the meantime, perhaps that’s a good way for you to share this blog with your medical/scientific friends in order to get their input. Hint, hint. 

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