Ready, Set, Gone
04:30 and my alarm goes off. Accidentally on purpose I snooze it for 10 minutes, only to wake at 04:44 with a start as I’d clearly hit dismiss not snooze. Why the panic about waking up at that time? Well I certainly wasn’t late for a flight, but what I was getting up for was based on an overheard conversation the previous evening.
Tesco was shutting at 22:00 and reopening at 05:00. Normally, if I said that to most anyone, I’d be met with a reasonable “And?” response. Today however, we are living in extraordinary unprecedented times (I’m not convinced on the unprecedented times status though; Spanish flu anyone?) where the most sought-after items in a supermarket are toilet paper, pasta, rice and apparently baked beans! Clearly the world needs more toxic gases released into the atmosphere to help with global warming! Ah, that might explain the panic buying of masks, which curiously has not made the news as a topic in some time now.
Pandemic panic purchasing is a thing. You don’t need to tell you this. I feel confident in saying that every single one of us has a supermarket toilet paper related story we can tell. The frenzied dash to the toilet paper and kitchen roll aisle by the first people to enter the supermarket does amuse me. You are first. You aren’t in danger of not getting any! Who’d have thought that tv gem Supermarket Sweep would be played out in real life and now core training material for surviving the apocalypse!
The human condition is curious one though and the current panic purchasing of neigh on everything – I mean seriously, had you even heard of half of the condiments you now have a stockpile of? – is a perfect example of he
ard mentality in action. Watch any David Attenborough narrated wildlife programme featuring a herd and a predator; one herd member bolts and the whole herd bolts, save for the vulnerable ones unable to flee or fend for themselves. Think on that a minute.
You didn’t think on it did you? It’s okay, as you were. So, despite waking ‘late’ I arrive at Tesco dead on 05:00 to realise that either everyone overheard the same conversation as I or they are paying more attention to the news or social media. I make a beeline for the bulk size section that I was reliably informed is located towards the back left of the store; thanks mum 😊 (in your face ****book, let me explain). From a distance I see a wall of Cushelle toilet paper. 32 rolls per pack. Jackpot!
Conquering Lion of…..Tesco
Why did I feel a mixture of excitement and relief having secured an amount of toilet paper that will technically see me into 2021? Had I convinced myself that the 4 rolls I have at home would not be enough to last me a reasonable amount of time until I could get some more? Did I get swept up with the herd who were also snatching up the bumper pack? Do I feel empowered having taken up the challenge of finding something that has becoming notoriously difficult to find? Is there a sense of achievement in a ‘mission accomplished’ sort of way at having defied the odds?
The answers are wrapped up in the psychology behind the human condition. Despite all our intelligence, we are capable of being unprecedentedly stupid! We are the architects of our own suffering sometimes and then call on ourselves to be our own saviour by looking out for those who are unable fight through the frenzy. Imagine if we had led with that approach from the beginning! The news would be boring I guess, and they would be less meme material.
All I do know however, is that it is an excellent time to be vegetarian! On my way to the checkout till once I sourced a sensible amount of food (I mean have you seen how little room there is in a shopping trolley after you load in 96 toilet rolls?), I walk past a perfectly stocked fruit and vegetable section! I didn’t dare disrupt the perfect sea of broccoli and cauliflower that someone had painstakingly arranged.
The one hour round trip was an illuminating social experience, even though I wasn’t panicked……honestly! 😊