Jennifer Danny | Pondering the COVID-19 Backstock

Jennifer Danny
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Well, I can honestly say that we have used the last package of toilet paper from the stock-up during the days of COVID. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t buy more than what we were allotted from the market, but I did buy a mega pack each time I did my grocery shopping. 

What was interesting is that I basically had nowhere to store all it all. So, I did what I thought was cool: I stored them behind the living room couch.  

At first there were only a few, but soon after I had what amounted to be about a year’s supply of toilet paper for a family of three, since our son was living with us during that time and in grad school. 

But I erred on the side of caution because, in my view, toilet paper is everything. 

Well, in hindsight I also purchased a lot of hand soap, bar soap, mouthwash and toothpaste. Basic staples in the Danny household. I am happy to say that I’m down to a palatable amount of toothpaste and mouthwash and I have about seven bottles of liquid hand soap left, and two large refill bottles of antibacterial soap just in case … insert rolling eyes emoji here. 

I’ve always been proactive. It’s the mother hen Jen in me. In fact, looking back in the archives of my mind, I think it started in 1971 after the Sylmar earthquake. 

Our family were newbies to California, and we were living in Porter Ranch at the time and we had a two-story home. I’ll never forget waking up during the shaking and my dad running up the stairs to make sure we were OK. He had to jump from the top of the stairs to the hallway because they were slightly separated from the base of the floor. 

We didn’t have any water, and we had to boil our neighbor’s pool water if we wanted to drink water and that’s what we did until the supplies were replenished. I remember my mom had to flush the toilets with tomato juice. 

That was my first introduction to being prepared for any upcoming event that could hinder our ability to have water, toilet paper, toothpaste and canned food. Yes, at the tender age of 10!  

When my parents bought their house in Northridge, we had been renting in Porter Ranch, my dad and mom both wanted a one-story home so two roofs wouldn’t come falling and recall the six degrees of separation of said stairs and flooring, that was the dealbreaker. And I was the earthquake preparedness daughter. I got a few big boxes and I’d go with my mom to the grocery store and we’d “copy can,” which meant buy one for the house and one more for the earthquake box.  

I took pride in being the one who made sure everything needed was there. And this continued into my older years and when I was on my own. 

In the 1987 Whittier quake and then in 1994 when the Northridge quake happened, by then I had added to my “EQ Preparedness List” and had hard hats and camping gear consisting of a tent and sleeping bags just in case. I had plenty of toilet paper, canned fruit, canned food and bottled water because we were parents now, and at that time our daughter was 2 years and 3 months old, so I had the necessary things for her as well.  

My mom and brother lived in the Northridge house at the time of that quake and when we were finally able to communicate, my mom told me that as she and my brother were standing in the doorways of their bedrooms, he said, “I wish we were at Jen’s. She’d have everything to take care of us.” 

In the end my mom’s house was yellow-tagged and eventually she ended up selling it.  

Ah, but my EQ Preparedness skills didn’t end with the Northridge quake. Nope. When my son was in elementary school I was on the PTA and I was the one who took charge for getting earthquake supplies and necessary items so if another one occurred and the kids were in school, they would have food and water.  

Recently, our water filter for our refrigerator had a red light on it. It was time to change the filter and I went to the laundry room closet and looked for one. It wasn’t like Jen to not have a spare water filter. But I didn’t find one. I was shocked. Jen shirked her responsibility.  

Even with all my years of preparedness and I had not replaced the water filter when I used the last one. I remembered it needing to be changed about six months earlier. I thought of my endless Post-It reminders that I keep put on the bathroom mirror, so I wouldn’t miss something, and after a while I thought, sheesh, I’ll just go on Amazon and order another filter; after all, it would probably arrive in a few days. 

So, I did just that and then went to the earthquake supply box in the garage and stocked the fridge with some of the bottled waters, because I didn’t think I could drink it from the nozzle if there was a red light.  

Oh, and the toilet paper, it was so well hidden because if you think about it who looks behind the couch, and then my husband decided out with the old couch and in with the new. This one didn’t have an area behind it because it backed up against the wall. 

So, I was caught. I took my supply of toilet paper and stacked them neatly in the garage and my husband took the high road and nary a word was said about Jen’s toilet paper convenience store in said garage, which was a nice footnote to the story. 

So here I am pondering the stock-up and hopefully I don’t have to go to the extreme again. I’ve always considered myself perfect when it comes to being prepared. But maybe, just maybe as I get older, I can take a little breather from that and keep this thought in my mind: Perfect is the enemy of “good.”

 Jennifer Danny is a Santa Clarita resident.

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