Who Said The Sky Is Falling?

It wasn’t quite my plan. Last night, raindrops spattered on my windshield as I pulled into the local Sam’s club. For the first time in a few days, there was no need to stand six-feet apart from other smooshers waiting to get in this, now, limited-capacity box store of limited-items. The time was later and I was in need of a few items. Just a small amount of things. Mask in hand, briefly, then over my tired face as I entered to be counted among the non-masses for this hazy, misting, overcast Tuesday late afternoon. I was lazily clicked in as #28 on the little black box by a very courteous member service representative who, by all accounts, was eager to be done with her shift. She and I nodded silently in agreement … a very obvious simpatico co-survivor of whatever this is.

Carts are funny things. They yearn to be. Reach-outs I cannot ignore even when only requiring a few items of hand-full ease. I found myself winding through empty aisles – darting around space, not elbows and kids – for the rarest of experiences. Just the two of us attached by a sole metal, sanitized bar wiggling our way toward the back freezer where I knew a small number of goodies had to be waiting for my perusal. It was on that path toward sure success where I noticed the stakes had been raised higher than they were days before … even hours before.

Shall I dare say, the steaks were …

… The only packages left in the case – and the high pricey ones at that.

Meat me half-way here. Again, as I wrote a few days ago, it is the fact-feeling paradigm / media driven emptiness of shelves we face head-on every time. Can we say together, “How now, ground cow?”

Here’s how: Henny Penny never said the sky’s the limit, did she? But, there’s now a limit on beef – after the cooler’s been emptied of 75/25, 80/20, 90/10, and 92/8. Ground to a halt is the U.S. supply of beef, apparently, because slaughter houses, large packaging facilities and suppliers are covid-19 depleted of workers. One-fifth of Wendy’s restaurants, according to recent reports, are now out of meat – thus fulfilling the “Where’s the BEEF!” prophesy waiting years in the hopper. McDonald’s should be ok because, well … never mind.

Local butchers are ok from what I gather. Smaller stores are carrying some limited supplies of beef, I guess. Haven’t been out much since last night to investigate. Not surprised to see the bigger, “mass gathering chambers exempt while mom-and-pops had to close” stores have empty, bare shelves of the items being hyped as the next-best, eer worst thing to hit the endangered list. T.P, water, clorox wipes, uhm … paper towels, milk, eggs, gas, whatever. Now, meat. Masses hear, follow, gather, buy … feel good.

I’m not claiming this virus isn’t a thing. Never have. My travels though the store last night took me past the vitamin/health care aisles where I spied powdery goodness I haven’t seen in a while. Caution is still a thing. Masking is still important. Social distancing should always be the responsible 6-step in the right direction. Immune add-ons I like to use every day that have been hard to find jumped into my sight. Amazon lists these little packs “iffy” in stock, so when I plucked three boxes out of six off the shelf, my inner self-congratulatory dial went a-spinning. With those and my freezer pals I found with ease moments before, heading to the self-checkout was seconds away.

Easy, right? Customer #28 was I. Well, for a moment or two. I was soon to be inmate #28.

My complaint may, or may not, be warrant-ed. We’ll ask the judge at my arraignment provided I can get a good attorney during this quarantine. Limits on ground beef. Sure, I get that. Glad to see y’all got yours. There was a clear and present sign over the empty 38 1/2-degree cooler 50 paces to my right at the time. Limits on the Immune packets? Uhm, .. well … I didn’t see a sign. Do I understand the need for a limit on the powder? Yeppers! … Powder-purchase-prevention-precautions are quite necessary during these scary times. After all, some may quadruple the price and sell them on the black market, or actually want to keep their family of eight healthy for a month. Yeah, a bit sarcastic there, but I was greedy-giddy last night and wanted mine!! ALL MINE … (I did leave three back for others. That counts for something, right?)

After bells, whistles, error messages, virtual register hand-cuffs, and some very nice assistance from masked associates, the matter was resolved with my surrendering of two boxes. Tears flowed from my eyes. It was a scene from my hands version of Grippley’s believe it, … or not. My feisty fingers not wanting to release the two golden boxes, I finally surrendered to reason. My reason? It was getting late, the rain was most likely still plopping down, and I was anxious to get home.

Hysteria held my heart for a few brief moments. I understand that space and the dichotomy of a brain wanting more, but needing less. In fifteen minutes’ time, I met Mr. Hypocrisy head-on. Hugging more than my fair share of one thing while shaking hands with unjustified righteousness. Strangely throwing the meat-hoarders under an oncoming media-driven bus to – only minutes later – taking my seat, asking for immunity … rather, counting my immunity packets.

Examination of self far exceeded expectations I had going into the evening. All I wanted to do was pick up a few items. Glad I had the time to see myself in an empty cooler and meat myself half-way.

Still think the news drives this packed bus too much toward a cliff we see coming – but choose to ignore. Sensible, clear-thinking, reasonable adulting needs to rule the day. I also can consider we live in a country where 330+ million ideas, values, and beliefs roam free in the lives of pretty awesome folks who are doing the best they can when the stakes are high and the price we pay for steaks will keep rising as well.

I was customer #28 and I’m darn proud to be with you as a fellow American – and world earth-breather – doing my thing. Good or bad, we’re all here. That counts for something. If all of us raise our hands together to be counted, we can keep the sky from falling down on us. Sounds like a plan to me.

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