By Tim Whyte
So, I was late to the coronavirus party. Through the early stages of the Great Toilet Paper Panic of 2020, I hadn’t worried all that much about stocking up. We keep a pretty good level of earthquake readiness in the Whyte House — including our RV, which at any given time has 50 gallons of fresh water in its tank. So, I figured we’d be good for a couple weeks at home if the need arose.
It was last weekend when I first really experienced what was going on in the stores. I went out in pursuit of a few key things, and mostly struck out.
Hand sanitizer, for the car and office?
Nope. Of course not.
We were good on toilet paper, but we were a little low on facial tissue, napkins and paper towels for the kitchen.
Strike, strike and strike. I went down swinging, through visits to five, count ’em, five different stores.
I noticed what everyone has: empty shelves, in multiple categories. Somewhere in Santa Clarita, there are people who’ve bought more than they need. In other words, they’ve shown total disregard for their fellow humans. Do you really NEED 50 boxes of macaroni?
Of course not. It’s interesting, though: I hear everyone talking about how awful the hoarding is. Ask anyone you see, and they’ll say the hoarders are selfish, loathsome beasts who don’t give a damn about anyone else.
Yet, they are among us.
I got creative. I’d read you could make hand sanitizer with aloe gel and 99% rubbing alcohol. The rubbing alcohol in our medicine cabinet is 70%, so I set out for the high-octane stuff.
No luck. Shelves stripped bare, everywhere. But I did score three bottles of aloe gel at Walmart, so now I’m halfway there. I’ll gladly swap one of them for a bottle of 99% rubbing alcohol, so if you’re interested in doing a little horsetrading, call me.
I’m either going to succeed in making hand sanitizer or I’ll be SUPER well stocked to treat sunburns this summer.
On my final store visit last weekend, I found facial tissue and napkins at CVS. The signs by the facial tissue said “limit one per household.”
I saw there were several different kinds of facial tissue, so I picked up one of each, figuring that was “one” of each item. And the napkins I found were in a box on the floor. There were two packages left, and I kind of assumed the “one per” rule would apply, but I thought, what the heck, I picked up both and figured I would ask at the checkout counter to confirm whether “one per” applied to those as well.
I didn’t even get to spit out the question. As soon as I walked up, the clerk told me, “You can’t have all that.”
She took one of the two packs of napkins away, and told me I had to pick one box of tissue — by “one per,” they didn’t mean one of any product. They meant one of a product category.
Fair enough. I wasn’t trying to hoard, with my three boxes of facial tissue and two packages of napkins. But I immediately felt a bit scorned.
Three boxes of Kleenex, after all the hoarding that’s gone on, and all of a sudden I’m the A-hole.
I was grateful to walk away with the box of tissue and package of napkins. But man, this is insane. Hopefully everyone settles down, and remembers that, just like there’s no “I” in “TEAM,” there’s no “Panic” in “PANDEMIC.”
Oh. Wait a minute…
Tim Whyte is editor of The Signal. His column appears Sundays.