Monday, January 26, 2015
The end of the world, at least for a few days, is at hand. Blizzard warning, storm mania, words like 'catastrophic', 'historic' on line, in print, on the air. Down to last tablespoons of coffee, I need to trek to Whole Foods on Washington Street Newton at 10 AM. Days without coffee? Are you kidding me?
You woulda thought the populace was preparing for a statewide 'shelter in place' edict.
Lines of cars inch forward on the road before even entering the jammed parking lot, deciding which lane to enter to find a place to park, eyeing patrons exiting with cloth bags hefty enough to substitute for barbells on the rack at the health club, trying to figure out where they are headed. Gasoline powered vultures.
This does not bring out the best in us. A few kamikaze moves from especially crazed drivers, the rest wait, white knuckles gripping the steering wheel. A social scientist would have enough material for a doctoral thesis with a few hours of observing cars vying to slip into a parking place vacated seconds before - and do it in a manner that wouldn't embarrass us if it were videoed on omnipresent cellphones. We're all looking for that parking spot that will get us a trip into the store and salvation - and supply us with provender for the oncoming hyped-up, historic event.
We are in a mild state of panic. The fear of scarcity rules us. Aisles in the store are clogged, register lines queued with carriages packed to the gunnels. Black humor and anxiety vie for primacy in snippets of conversation. Your handwritten list, created in the sanity of your kitchen an hour before, doesn’t seem to be sufficient. You double down on milk and more basics. You pray that the power doesn't go down and you suffer as you watch $100 of perishables perish in your warm fridge.
Brainstorm. Buy cans of soup. The gas stove will work even if power goes poof. Once through the cashier aisle, a wave of relief...and reckoning. You wonder how you could have spent so much for so much more than you thought you'd need. You turn on the radio. Nothing but Blizzard of 2015 updates. You imagine being home bound for weeks. Maybe you didn't buy enough.