A Moment in My Life – Friday, August 14, 2020
I was at Costco picking up a couple of essentials the other day. It surprised me there were so many shoppers in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday. Except for the masks on everybody’s face, it was life as usual. No offenders were refusing to wear a mask like on the news. People in my neck of the woods are well behaved and decent people. Thank God for that! There were no lines to enter the warehouse—no more maze taking over a section of the parking lot. People were social distancing at the checkout lines, but throughout the warehouse, it was business as always.
The warehouse was once again well stocked. The paper aisle has a wall of paper products of each kind with no restrictions on any of their items. No attendant was standing behind a yellow caution tape rationing out the packs of toilet paper and paper towels like they did a couple of months back.
Before SiP began, I felt ill-at-ease in my gut with the forming of Covid-19 and thought I’d better stock up, just a little, and I didn’t go crazy like many people who suddenly became hoarders. It was a great idea to buy a toilet paper pack when I did because soon afterward, toilet paper became a commodity. Back in May, I hadn’t run out of toilet paper yet, but I figured with the scarcity of supplies that when Costco restocked the next time, I should buy another pack just in case. Especially since the last two times, I was at Costco; they had zilch. I mean, they were emptied—they didn’t even have a paper aisle in the warehouse at all! Panic swept through me. I was on a mission now to stock up more than ever.
A few weeks later, I went to Costco to gas up my car, and I figured if no lines were going into the warehouse, I’d go in to walk around and shop around. I haven’t been there in a while. To my surprise, there was no line! As I meandered around the warehouse, I saw a pack of toilet paper in a shopper’s cart, and that reminded me about my plan to stock up. I raced over like a madwoman and said, “Excuse me, where did you find the toilet paper?” He pointed me to the back. I thanked him as I raced off weaving through shoppers, making my way towards the direction he pointed. I didn’t want them to run out before I got a pack. I found the toilet paper at the back of the warehouse behind a yellow caution tape guarded by a clerk standing next to the pallet of Kirkland toilet paper, and a pallet of Bounty paper towels. On this side of the caution tape was a mob of people with carts jamming towards the supply. Later, another clerk came out and forced the crowd into a single file line, clearing the path for other patrons to pass. I filed into this line and waited my turn to advance up to the caution tape.
This was my first time, as I’m sure it was for many people in this time period, where we experienced the rationing of goods. Most of us wouldn’t have dreamed that we would be living like this in our lifetime, but here we were lining up for a pack of toilet paper. I watched and listened as those before me approached the caution tape. The guard offered each customer either one pack of toilet paper or one pack of paper towels, or both. I didn’t need paper towels, not that many rolls at least, but since we are being rationed, I decided to take one of each. Who knows what would happen tomorrow? Who knows if supplies would become even scarcer than it was?
As it turned out, weeks later, I was at the same Costco and was surprised to see pallets of toilet paper stored throughout the warehouse. There were small pallets of toilet paper stored on many aisles such as the frozen aisle, the beverage aisle, and at the center back open area of the warehouse. When I arrived at the paper aisle, there wasn’t a wall of paper products, but instead, there was a mountain of paper products. What a sight for sore eyes? I told everybody I could think of, and a couple of days later, a friend told me that she was at the same Costco, but they were, once again, out of stock! By the end of the same week, another friend announced that Costco was well-stocked again. You never know in this climate.
I’m glad that even though we’re still in SiP with necessary social distancing and mask donning requirements, it’s great that the rationing experience was short-lived. Would you have believed that this is how we’d be living if someone told you this a year ago? I wouldn’t believe it had I not seen it for myself.