Toilet paper

Tuesday night we sat at dinner and I asked my husband if he thought I should be taking the coronavirus more seriously than I had been up to that point. The news of Berea College here in Kentucky closing down for the remainder of the semester and Vanderbilt moving to online courses made me feel like I was missing something.

I still am not quite sure why toilet paper is flying off the shelf, but after researching a little about how this has impacted other countries, I am completely satisfied with the precautions many institutions are taking to help “flatten the curve” on projected impact and spread of COVID-19. My family has been impacted through the restructure of college classes at my oldest children’s universities. The good news is they can finish their course work. The great news is they can be at home as they do it. (At least that is great from my perspective. If they have a different opinion they can take it up on their own blog.)

Today I ran to Sam’s Club because as fortune would have it, the Jones clan was out of toilet paper. Pulling into the parking lot I realized I was going to get a prime time bit of people watching. The parking lot was full and there were exactly zero carts corralled for use. I walked back out to the parking lot with a sanitized wipe in hand to gather one.

As I made my way toward the back, every cart I passed had a box of toilet paper. Good News! They had toilet paper! But as I passed the little old woman barely able to push her cart because it was loaded down with boxes, I began to wonder if there would be any by the time I made it to the proper aisle.

As luck would have it, there was a young man struggling to unload a pallet of off brand toilet paper, 45 roll quantity, while simultaneously a now long line formed around him grabbing what he was trying to shelf. I am proud to report I succeeded in securing a box and the Joneses will not have to resort to using old camp shirts, cleverly cut down to usable pieces, as my snarky husband suggested Tuesday night.

I began to just meander the store. My secondary goal was to find some food that would come in handy if per chance we were to not have access to the store a couple of days. Primarily I just wanted to see what the good people of Warren County were doing at Sam’s on Thursday morning at 10:00 am. You know, besides getting toilet paper.

I began to just meander the store. My secondary goal was to find some food that would come in handy if per chance we were to not have access to the store a couple of days. Primarily I just wanted to see what the good people of Warren County were doing at Sam’s on Thursday morning at 10:00 am. You know, besides getting toilet paper.

“My daughter called me up and said, ‘Momma, I’m so busy. Would you mind to run to the Sam’s for me?’ Now here I am in this craziness. I have a mind to just leave this cart right here and go home. I don’t even know what Uncrustables are. You know she knew it would be like this and she probably wasn’t doing anything and just didn’t want to get out in this mess. I’ve already called her and told her she owes me big time.”

I met up with a man who was loading his cart with bottles of water. He looked harried and flushed.

“I guess I just decided to grab some water. I don’t exactly know why, but I just decided I would feel better with some things on hand. It’s probably not needed. But I’ll have it and it won’t spoil.”

As I moved toward the can foods, a man and a woman were stocking a flat bed cart with large boxes of Macaroni and cheese boxes, ravioli cans, and granola bars. They work for the county school system and they were stocking up on food to give to kids in case schools are closed.

“We are on alert that schools could close with little warning. We are starting to make take home boxes to be sure that if school isn’t in session, our kids won’t go hungry.”

A very angry woman, irritated by the long lines stood beside me as we waited our turn.

“This is ridiculous. Why are all these people here? People are just panicking. No one has a lick of sense.”

“So what brings you out today?”

“Well if all these idiots are going to panic, there will be nothing left for the rest of us.”

I had nothing appropriate to respond. She sighed as she struggled to turn her overly stuffed cart topped with two boxes of toilet paper and continued to grumble as we waited.

I love the ways of people. We are as complex as we are ridiculous. I don’t fear this virus, although it is hard to look at the impact it is having on Italy and not understand the importance of halting the spread if we can. I checked in with some of my favorite older people to see if I could traverse the grocery store for them. Or maybe give them a few of my tp rolls. I think this is an amazing time to laugh where we can and reflect with discernment on how this could impact others both health-wise and financially. We can give grace to those whose anxiety is leading them into stressful reactions. We can ration our own food to have room in the budget to feed children who might miss meals if schools are closed and we can enjoy the slowdown that all the cancellations are affording us.

I plan to sit at home and enjoy my children in their extended school breaks and collect as many Coronavirus memes as I can. People are just so witty!! This will be a story we will tell the rest of our days. I hope it won’t be a tragedy because we are sick, nor because we failed to see the opportunity to help others.

Stay well! Let me know if you need toilet paper.

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