People wait for an H-E-B grocery store to open Tuesday, March 17, 2020, in Spring, Texas. Grocery store executives and city officials reassured the community, on Monday, that plenty of food will be available in their stores and urged people not to stockpile groceries amid coronavirus concerns. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Welcome to Unsolicited Advice, the weekly column in which I dispense advice no one asked for to people who don’t even know who I am.
A lot has changed in the world since the last column published. I normally write these things from the comfort of my own home. Now I…write these things from the comfort of my own home. It’s worse than it sounds, people! Anyway, we’re all pretty much on lockdown to varying degrees and the news every day is worse and worse. It is gut-wrenching to imagine that a country of 325 million people can be forced to come to a grinding halt at the same time, yet we creep closer to it every day. Times are scary. No one is too sure of what is coming down the road. But I have a little unsolicited advice for all of us, to help us through these trying times.
STOP HOARDING GROCERIES.
We are a week into the apocalypse and some of you all are out there shopping like we’re mere days away from putting on sleeveless leather jackets and becoming a living, breathing Tina Turner song.
We do not have a problem in the supply chain…yet. You all may very well trigger one by not letting the natural physics of supply and demand catch up. I understand…we’re all worried. Some of us are panicked. We don’t have all the information and we have no way of knowing when things will ever get back to whatever kind of normal is left. We have families to support and it gets scary when you start thinking about not having everything you need or want for the next few weeks (at least). We aren’t used to not having things. Amazon is backed up by a few days and even that seems a bit disconcerting.
I’m not shaming anyone for being worried. I’m certainly not shaming anyone for being prepared. But it’s important to remember that your neighbors are also trying to be prepared. I see so many people out there encouraging each other to take care of their neighbors, check in on people and see if there are any needs. I know that some of those people are the very ones trying to walk out of Target with 50 gallons of milk in their basket.
The Golden Rule extends to our supplies as well.
Everyone from farmers to grocers to the government has been assuring us that the supply chain for food is pretty solid at least into the summer, and by then we should really be over the worst of this. Trump is working with private industry and manufacturing to activate and reenergize our domestic production, so soon enough we won’t even need to be worrying about what China is or isn’t sending us. While things look bleak right now, the prognosis looks to be that we’ll get back to some type of free market flow relatively soon. My point is, we have what we need right now.
We can’t predict the future, and I do recommend every family be prepared to hunker down but let’s get back to that Golden Rule idea. Your neighbors just aren’t your neighbors when you see them. They are still your neighbors even when you are not in the same place. You may like to have 4 cans of beans, but think about the mother who lives paycheck to paycheck and wasn’t able to do her latest round of shopping before the world fell apart. Think about her now having limited funds (so she can’t buy the expensive stuff that might be left) or praying as she goes to the store that something is there that she can feed her kids. Think about her looking at the shelves after standing in line for an hour only to find nothing. Think about how devastating that must feel. So maybe you just take 3 cans of beans. Maybe you see someone fretting over not having something that you have but don’t necessarily need and you quietly take it out of your basket and put it in theirs. Maybe if you have done a “hoarding” trip you don’t make another one when you hear the next restocking truck has arrived. Maybe sit a week out and let others have at it.
You should be concerned, but now is not the time for panic. Especially not when it comes to making sure our neighbors are provided for.
We don’t have to be the people who devolve into utter selfishness and chaos when the toilet paper hits the fan. That isn’t even the American way. We are the UNITED States. We take care of our own. We always have. That attitude doesn’t stop at the grocery store.
Be kind. Be considerate. Stop being selfish. If you have what you need and a little more, you’re good. Let your neighbors get what they need before you head back out for 83 bags of rice. We can all do this together.
We’ll get through this. We just can’t forget who we are.