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Thursday, March 19, 2020

Loonie Tunes: First installment in 'A Journal of the Covid Year'

Monday, March 16th

I’m beginning to fee nervous.  For the past week I’ve been feeling superior, laughing at news videos of people with shopping carts packed high with bags of toilet paper, Kleenex, paper towels, and bags of avocados.  I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around of why someone might need a 150 rolls of toilet paper – this disease doesn’t seem to have a ‘trot’ component like the Norwalk virus.  What are these people going to do with it all?  Build a fort?  And the bags of avocados?  Obviously these people are certified idiots.

Tuesday March 17th

I went to the local supermarket today to pick up my usual order of buns, and deli.  As I pass by the paper goods aisle I notice it’s empty – and when I say empty, I mean totally empty – the whole aisle!  As I look down other aisles I see great gaps: no pasta, no tuna fish, no cans of soup, and the meat counter is looking pretty sparse too.  I’m beginning to have an uneasy feeling.  My intellect tells me there is no problem.  There is no supply problem, this is only temporary.  But then the primal ‘hunter & gatherer’ part of my brain whispers, these people know something that you don’t.  If you don’t act now and soon – they’ll be nothing left.  You and your family will starve My wife thinks I’m being paranoid.

I go home make a corned beef sandwich and watch CNN interrupt “Breaking New” with “More Important Breaking News,” and “Still Even More Important Breaking News.”

Wednesday March 18th

Last night my wife tried to put her phone in grocery order in.  She was on the computer for hours.  The site was either down, or part way through entering her order it would crash.  She decides we should go directly to the store and shop in person.  I accompany her to make sure we get enough of everything.   

When we arrive almost all the shopping carts are gone.  My wife finds one left in the hut.  She takes a looney out of her purse and puts it into a slot on the cart to unlock it.
“This is a special looney.   I disinfected it.  After we come back we get it back.  That way it touches nobody else.”  She takes a paper towel out of her purse and a small bottle of disinfectant and wipes down the grocery cart. 
“Keep your hands in your pocket and don’t touch anything,” she lectures me like a small child.  “You don’t know who’s touched what.” She takes a folded paper towel out of her purse and hands it to me.   “If you must pick up something use this paper towel.”

Once we enter the store it’s evident something is going on.  People have determined looks on their faces as they rapidly push their carts down empty aisles – swiveling their heads back and forth, desperately looking for things.  Like the store I visited yesterday, the paper goods aisle is totally bare.  There are no eggs, no milk, no chicken.  I feel a sinking feeling in my stomach.  I’m feeling like the lazy ‘grasshopper’ watching the determined streams of ants are emptying the shelves.

My wife manages to get about half the items on her list.  After she unloads the cart into the car she asks me to return the cart to the shed.
“Don’t forget to get our looney back,” she lectures me.
As I arrive at the empty shed a woman is waiting for a cart. She drops  a looney into my hand and takes the cart.
“Trade you,” she says.
I shove the looney in my pocket and head back to the car.  As I approach, I see a look of horror on my wife’s face.”
“What have you done!” she shrieks.  “You gave away my special disinfected looney and now you’ve handled one that god knows where it’s been.”
“I’ll throw it away,” I offer.
“It’s too late for that.  Don’t touch it for at least 6 hours, then bring it to me with tweezers and I’ll disinfect it.  From now on I’ll deal with the cart.”

I drop my wife off at home and head out on my own hunting and gathering expedition. I decide to try and redeem myself in her eyes by searching for the missing items on her list. My wife tells me not to worry we have lots of toilet paper.   I’m not so sure.  I have visions of wiping my bum with sheets of newspaper flyers.

There are four supermarkets and about a half dozen drugstores near us.  It takes me four drugstores before a clerk takes pity on me as she watches me silently crying like a little boy in front of an empty shelf.  I tell her I’d wipe my nose, but I don’t have any tissues.  She tells me there’s no tissues, but there is one bag of toilet paper in the back.  She was saving it for someone needy.
“I tell her I’m needy,” between sniffs.
She heads off into the back to fetch it.  I stand guard outside the door, lest some soul pretending to be more needy than me cuts in front.
In the line up to the cashier I see ‘toilet paper’ deprived people glaring at me.
“How did you score that?” a guy asks me.
I clutch it tighter to my breast.
“I had to trade a winning lottery ticket for it.”

At another drugstore I manage to use the same routine to score a single box of Kleenex.  Over two hours I manage to find 2l of milk, and a dozen eggs.  I arrive at a grocery store just as a guy is unloading chicken from a large cardboard box and placing them into the meat rack.  As soon as he puts it down somebody grabs it.  It isn’t too long until folks are grabbing them out of his hand.
“I thought chickens couldn’t fly,” I tell him.
“Huh?” he responds as two women are engaging in a tug-of-war over a fryer.
“These chickens seem to be flying off the shelf.”
While he’s watching the two women fighting over the chicken I manage to liberate two birds out of his box.  I’m learning. 
I spend the rest of the day watching CNN interrupting “Breaking News” bulletins with “More Breaking News” bulletins.

Tomorrow's plans: more hunting and gathering

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