Friday, March 13, 2020

Rouses Supermarket became a coronavirus madhouse this evening

This evening, I saw a guy at Rouses Supermarket in the Metairie, Louisiana. He had three items in his cart: A 12 pack of toilet paper, a case of beer, and a large cake. 

An older woman in the next line told him, "I see you have your priorities straight." 

The scene reminded me of a Katrina news story in which the only treasures two guys were trying to save was their bourbon. 

In Rouses, I remained calm despite the frenetic energy ricocheting through the checkout lines that snaked beyond the checkout area into aisles. No keeping six feet from a fellow there. The bread shelves were nearly empty except for the less popular breads such as Pumpernickel and odd packs of buns. Surprisingly, the store had toilet paper, but probably not for long. Of course, they were out of Lysol spray and the soap supply appeared to be dwindling as well.

Target at Clearview Shopping Center had far fewer people. I guess word has spread that their food shelves are nearly empty. One lone loaf of smashed white bread in the bread aisle remained. No soups in the soup aisle, just broths. I didn't bother going downstairs because I'd also dropped by Target on my lunch break yesterday. Even the nail files were gone along with alcohol, Lysol spray, Clorox wipes, and so on.

Lakeview Grocery on Harrison Avenue in New Orleans, part of the Roberts chain, only had a few loaves of raisin bread but two selves of Wonder Bread left in the sliced bread section. A woman passed by and said, "Everywhere I go, I see Wonder. People are like (she frowned), "Well, Wonder will have to do."

The sense of coronavirus panic gets to you after a while. A quiet paranoia takes over. At work, I went to wash out a cup and brought my purse, keys, and phone with me, thinking that something could wrong. Perhaps I would return to my office, a secure area, and my badge wouldn't work. I wanted to be able to leave the building and get home if I were locked out of my area. The last time I felt that nervous was after having to complete three active shooter trainings in less than four months.

I hope all this anxiety rolling off shoppers and compulsive hoarding turns out to be excess preparation. The best thing would be that social distancing and hand washing causes the corona virus scare to fizzle. Sure, people will be angry, feel stupid, and probably blame the media for over-informing us sensationalizing our circumstance, but the alternative would be worse. All the warnings could be warranted, and we could be woefully under-prepared for disastrous event.

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