Mr. wd called me from Cortez, CO at the beginning of his grocery-shopping misadventure early on Saturday morning. To put it mildly, he was agog, agape, and aghast during his first stop at Walmart. What he found were empty shelves where OTC pain relievers, etc., toilet paper, kleenex, paper towels, and likely paper napkins (he hadn’t checked), should have been. Most canned foods were also absent, and the wage slaves he’s friendly with reported that the meat aisle was likewise…empty. They were all horrified at the mammoth cartloads of shelf-stable foods being tugged about. Meat? Unless the shoppers had large freezers…well, not so stable.
He bought a few of the available staples that were on his list, and spoke to his friend Jenny, the senior citizen Walmart Greeter on his way out the door. She told him a horrifying tale about the Friday hoarders, jostling one another for the last bag of potatoes, and so on, so reminiscent of Black Friday trampliings and skirmishes.
But on Saturday? Many shoppers had come from Farmington, NM (120 mi. roundtrip minimum) and Durango, CO, a 60 mi. roundtrip minimum and had decimated the shelves. I checked online with both the Cortez Urinal and the Durango Herald: not whisper bout the empty shelves.
Mr. wd pressed on to the other two stores always on his shopping itineraries, as we mainly tend to pick the sales, and he’s learned which stores most often have the best fresh produce on his list. Holy hell! Full parking lots at both Slaveway and City Market, and he found roughly the same shelves…empty. I just phoned the Family Dollar store in Mancos…sold out of toilet paper and kleenex. I’d forgotten until now that none of the wage slaves had mentioned bottled water, but that would be top on my list were I/we hoarding.
Now Mr. wd looked up corona virus cases in Colorado, and while most are on the Eastern Slope mega-cities, the closest to the 4-Corners was in Gunnison on the Western Slope, maybe 250 miles away. So what’s with the panic all of a sudden? The evening news reports, social media panic, the conflicting reports as to the spread of positive tests? My favorite tankie in Queens on Twitter is reporting that grocery stores in his neighborhood are calm and quiet with shelves full, or ready to be restocked. And sigh, he’s Tweeted the story of the National Guard being called in to ‘help’ in New Rochelle. Do stories like that help cause Hoarding Panic?
Bingling Coronavirus Hoarding did kick up this Reuters piece from 16 days ago, my favorite excerpt being:
“Pandemic shopping lists have been going around online, with virologist Ian Mackay suggesting people not forget treats like soft drinks and chocolate alongside the grains and pasta.
“But don’t panic buy and don’t hoard!” Mackay, an associate professor at the University of Queensland in Australia, said in his blog post, “So you think you’re about to be in a pandemic?”
Again: not word one about Water, the Staff of Life. But apparently Walmart stores will close in the late evenings so that wage slaves can re-stock the shelves, re-open in the morning, and Costco will limit purchase of some items, never mind how easy that rule is to subvert.
Aha! While Bingling moments ago for photos of corona virus and empty shelves I found one at cbc.ca/radio, March 3, 2010: ‘Herd effect’: Social media images of empty shelves fuelling panic buying over coronavirus, says prof; ‘You need to have a sensible plan — how much toilet paper do you really need for a week,’ asks prof’
“Someone will post images on Instagram or on social media of overstuffed shopping carts and empty shelves in department stores,” said Steven Taylor, a professor at UBC and author of The Psychology of Pandemics: Preparing for the Next Global Outbreak.
“And that’s going to go viral and that’s going to create the illusion of urgency and scarcity, and that’s going to ramp up the panic buying.”
Are you hoarding? If so, I hope you’ve included water, as well as anti-viral/anti-bacterial home health aids.
(cross-posted at caucus99percent.com)