Life During the 2020 Panic

There were not many people at our usual Sunday morning breakfast spot. “Are people panicked into staying home?” I asked the waitress. “Yes, it’s been very slow. Wait till you go to the grocery store.”

At our local biggest grocery mart, shelves were bare. No bread, except rye. I happened to like rye, so not a problem. My wife likes English muffins. No English muffins were available.

It was a continuing story of missing merchandise. No Polish sausages. No hot dogs. No bratwurst. No chicken. No hamburger. Hamburger buns were available. However, there were smoked sausages.

The toilet tissue shortage has been well publicized. Merchandise hoarding is similar to that before hurricanes and other disasters. Since schools are closed for about three weeks, it probably has something to do with parents contemplating being sheltered at home with their kids.

Some items were available with 100% mark-ups. There was no excuse for that. Plain and simple price gouging.  There are two other major supermarkets nearby.  Traditionally their prices were higher.  Better to have merchandise for a few cents more, than nothing at all.  At least gasoline prices were lower than they’ve been in recent history. 

What Would It Take…

…To get you behind the wheel of this new Chromemobile 500 today?  No money down, easy on the budget, payment terms.  You know you like it.

After car shopping yesterday, my wife and I were completely exhausted.  For the record, it was her idea this time.  Why was this process like having multiple root canals?  One dealership completely ignored us.  How did they stay in business?

I’m aware that I have “car-it is.” It was inherited from my father.  That was why I stayed away from car dealerships, car shows.  The first step was admitting there was a problem.  Confession was good for the soul.

It had been five years since my last obsession.  There was a slick-looking compact pickup truck my wife fell in love with.  She did her best to persuade me.  It’s parked in our garage.

A Modicum of Diversion…

Pineapple on pizza–yes or no?  Why was she yelling at me?  It wasn’t about pineapple or pizza.  Leather sofas were on sale at the local, discount, close-out store.  Not the first place to shop for furniture in my estimation.

“Why don’t we go and just look around?”  That meant we weren’t going to leave without buying something–better to just go along.  My hopes were, that nothing would happen to ruin this beautiful, sunny, winter day.

The sofas were better than expected–stock overruns from a popular major manufacturer.  Who was I to have doubted?  Even though, I was in for some dreaded furniture rearranging.  If everything stayed the way it was, from now till eternity, it would have been just fine with me.

At the service desk, two men waited.  The gray-haired older gentleman seemed calm.  The younger man, who may have been the son, complained about noise emanating from the other side of the store.  There, a young child was in the midst of throwing a temper tantrum.

“Why hadn’t she taken the young boy outside?”  Said the young man to his father.  “Nobody wanted to hear that kid’s ear-splitting screeches.”  The father mumbled something about permissive parenting being the downfall of civilization.

Waiting for the store clerk’s return, seemed to take forever.  We were second in line, behind the disgruntled young man, and his father.  The clerk returned briefly from checking inventories.  The young man complained about the noisy child to the clerk; the clerk refused to take sides, went back to work.

That was when the stalking began.  “I’m going to check on why this bratty kid won’t stop crying,” Announced the young man.  My wife and I looked at each other.  What business was it of his?  And what could he do about it–without causing a major incident?

The young man walked away hunched over, like he was trying to make himself smaller, to avoid being seen.  Jacket collar pulled up to his chin.  It was comical–in a Groucho Marx sort of way.  He carefully duck-walked the rows one-by-one, until the offenders were spotted.

What had he done–if anything?  The store was, once again peaceful.  The little boy stopped crying.  Had I underestimated the young man’s skills as a “Child Whisperer?”  Our sofa was in stock and would be delivered in a couple of days.

Then, temper tantrum, version 2.0, began, like a loud clap of thunder.  The young man and his father, were aghast.  “I’m going to show them a thing or two,” The son, announced.

In his best Groucho Marx, killer commando mode, the stalking resumed.  My wife and I made an exit at that point–wondered how things turned out.  Nothing made the police blotters.  It was one of the strangest public scenes we’d witnessed in our lifetimes.

Post-Easter Reflections

Easter symbolizes new life.  April the giraffe finally had her offspring.  What will people talk about now?

Easter egg hunts, as a child, were fun–with real, dyed, hard-boiled eggs.  There were more than a few belly aches, from consuming too many.

Of course, a few hidden eggs were never found.  Those not found, were left to be scavenged by critters.  If there were anything that would eat foul-smelling, rotten, hard-boiled eggs.

The giant warehouse store wasn’t crowded Saturday.  The mall was, however.  Hope everyone had a Happy Easter weekend.  It’s a beautiful Sunday afternoon.  Should I dare wish everyone a Happy Monday?


xmas tree 2Windshield wipers

Of, dirty cars

Saluted, Jack Frost

Swished away

Grayish, dried slush


Discarded, Christmas trees

Wrapping paper and boxes

Lined neighborhoods

Streets, and curbsides

For blocks, ad infinitum


From cul-de-sacs

Far and near



Post Holiday

Bargain shoppers

Looked down their noses

Through fish-eye glasses

Scoured discount racks


Visiting relatives, and

Small toys, cluttered about

Did not, a good mix, make

The annual, frantic

Adoration of glitz and glitter

Was over–time to go home

Party poopers, reigned

Supreme, once more


Do you feel uncomfortable when you see someone else being embarrassed?  What’s most likely to make you squirm?

check out line 2

While standing in a checking line in a supermarket or big-box store, someone ahead discovers they don’t have enough money to pay for all the items.  Was it absent-mindedness or someone scraping together every penny to survive?  They’re embarrassed, and make the painstaking decision on what is essential and what to leave.  Occasionally, embarrassment takes over, and all items are left.

When watching married couples having down-and-dirty arguments in public places.  Personal details are brought out that never should see the light of day.  Their young children, with blank expressions on their faces sit and wait.  I cringe, because this is the way they think things are supposed to be.

I feel sorry for the poor, usually teenage, store clerk or wait staff person, berated abusively for some insignificant minor detail blown out of proportion by some adult power-tripping lowlife customer.  I’m also embarassed for employees chewed out in front of customers by their supervisors.  It shows a complete lack of class.


Taipei Arcade Games
Taipei Arcade Games (Photo credit: Michael Kwan (Freelancer))

In through the out-door

Went against the flow

Kaleidoscope of people

Some casual and carefree

Strangers, I didn’t know

Runaway shopping carts

Cacophonic arcade games

A stew of sound and scent

Rode up the escalator

Felt really down

Wives with their husbands

That weren’t really there

Some rested on benches

Part of the walking dead

Special sale, today only!

Finest imported lucite

Genuine imitation quartz

Too much chrome and glassness

Hidden among mockery and crassness

Real men didn’t do kitsch

Descended to Dante’s level three

Curtains, pillow shams, duvets

A mother bear cuffed her cubs

We’re leaving now, she said!

Could only look with wonder, ’cause

Sometimes mothers ate their young

Peered through the bars

Just another day in exile

My Supermarket Adventure

I don’t enjoy supermarket shopping.  Rarely do I go unless I’m on vacation.  Recently, I was reminded why I hate it so much.  Was it my imagination?  I perceived that my wife went into s-l-o-w-w m-o-t-i-o-n.  It was like watching the final losing Super Bowl play over and over again.  Supermarkets have a sort of cruelty about them.  It ends at the check out line as I stand with head down staring at the floor.  Wouldn’t want to get caught looking at tabloid headlines.  …Other shoppers personal items would be worse.

We went through the aisles, then back through the same aisles in reverse.  It was like instant replay.  As a puzzled newlywed I asked my bride, “Honey, why do you go through all the aisles and not buy anything?” “I don’t know Sweetie, that’s the way I’ve always done it.  “That way I don’t forget anything.” It still didn’t make sense to me.  I instead concentrated on being a serious-minded shopping cart operator.  Why did she lead me down the narrowest, most crowded aisles and suddenly change directions?  She had the uncanny ability to disappear in milliseconds.  Didn’t she understand that I had a reputation to uphold.  …Now to turn this rig around.

“Honey, we need some potatoes.” “I saw them on aisle 27, Pumpkin.” “Yes, Dear.” I replied faithfully.  The supermarket was such a scary place!  Evil lurked around every corner.  You never knew when another grocery cart would suddenly pop out and collide with yours.   My mind wandered.  The calm octogenarian gentleman slowly pushing his cart toward me could be a total maniac.  …Using his cart as a weapon…The culmination of years living on a fixed income.  His eyes narrow slits. …face frozen with determination… waiting for the exact moment to prey on the unsuspecting.  If there was a God, let a yuppie shopper with a shopping cart full of gourmet foods and designer water suddenly appear.  That would be my cue to escape his evil game.

“Sweetheart, did you get the potatoes?” “Yes, Dear.” I replied proudly.  “Sweetie, those are red potatoes, I wanted russet potatoes.”  I was confused, didn’t the word “russet” mean red?  It turned out that russet potatoes were actually white.  We made our way back to aisle 27.  “Russet potatoes are better for baking.” “Oh” I said.  “Sorry” “It’s OK Hon, you just didn’t know.  “Look, they have twelve kinds of beef jerky.” “That’s nice, Dear.” “Let’s go to the check out.”

Cart pushers and sudden stops were invitations for disaster–especially if you had long objects in your cart.  Cart thieves were the lowest form of life.  Too lazy to get theirs from the front of the store, they’d seize yours.  Spend too long perusing the frozen food section and it could happen to you.  Your carefully selected items tossed aside as the thief made a clean getaway.  There should be special punishment for cart thieves, just like there was for horse thieves in the Old West.

Maybe I should look at supermarket shopping differently?  It could be a whole new realm of competition.  Discounted canned goods sans labels could lead to an exciting party game.  “What’s in the can?”  Guess creamed corn and it could be pickled beets.  Of course losers would have to eat the contents of their can.  It has the makings of a new “Reality TV” show.  Eat your heart out “Fear Factor.”  Next trip go to the end of the aisle where sale items are carefully stacked in a pyramid.  Select an item from near the bottom of the stack and carefully pull it out.  This game is similar to “Jenga,” losers collapse the stack.  Public humiliation would follow with the “clean-up on aisle three” announcement.

Perhaps the most spine-tingling challenge for shoppers happens when they enter and leave the facility.  It’s a thrilling game of “chicken” as motorists challenge pedestrians to cross.  Cross-walk markings seem to be there only as a suggestion.  Runaway shopping carts in the parking lot provide plenty of thrills.  “Attention thrill seekers!” “Step right up!” “Place your bets!” “I’ve got fifty dollars on the blue Toyota.” “Watch out, that cart is heading right for your car!”