I’d like to share Thursday’s wonderful experience of “being in line for toilet paper”. Over the past several weeks people have been watching the number of cases with Corona virus increase while the numbers on the stock market decrease. I offer that this is a time to come together and give to each other a great gift. Hope.
I feel quite confident in saying, this is not the end of the world. I do not fear Covid 19, I respect it. I agree whole heartedly we need to be smart and remain vigilant. I know I, along with anyone else, could get Covid 19 but I choose to continue to thrive despite it.
No, what concerns me most are the masses of people who are filled with worry and who are being told “we’ve never had anything like this before”. We have, numerous times and we will persevere.
I am not Wonder Woman, or the female version of Chuck Norris. I am affected by what we don’t know about the virus yet, but I work hard to remain what I refer to as a “Faithamist”. (Full definition to be shared in a later post)
So here it is, my experience of “being in line for toilet paper”. I had no inkling that morning of the events ahead. My day began with an 8:00am doctor’s appointment. I had made a list of things we needed and since my appointment was early and near Costco I went. My list included things like detergent, soy milk, mixed nuts, paper towels, hamburger meat, cereal and my husband’s medicine. Toilet paper was not on my list.
At 9:15 I was in the Costco parking lot (yes, my doctor’s appointment was that fast) where I learned it opened at 10:00. There were maybe 10 other cars there. I thought I’d wait and use the time to check emails. Within another 5 minutes 20 other cars showed up and a line was forming outside the Costco doors. The radio was listing all the events that were cancelling and the school systems that were closing. I decided to wait thinking, no need to rush. I’m here and I have a great parking space. Five more minutes, 20+ more cars. Line gets longer. At 9:38, I looked at the clock in the car, I calmly walk towards the line of people. People would turn look then look away. Immediately I could hear dozens of conversations of “Can you believe this?” and “This is nuts”. I begin looking at people, taking attendance (for anyone who has taken my self-defense classes, You know what this means) planning on if things get anxious or unruly. I start purposely catching and looking into the eyes of those around me and engaging in the conversations. I, and another lady, remark on how this reminded us of “Black Friday”, minus the Christmas music. I even make a joke about how Charmin might need to change their commercials to “Charmin, Where we give you at least 5 more squares than the other guys”*. Seinfeld reference for us older generations.
Doors open, the herd moves. It was not a stampede, but there was urgency. You see those who show off their speed walking skills-the rushers. Then there were some who like going through a maze darting in and out of aisles- the “I’ll make my own path-ers”. Everyone is headed to the same place at the back of the store where the bottled water, paper towels and yes, Toilet Paper awaits. In my mind I ponder, what if there was a fire right now? What would win? Getting out safely or getting toilet paper and then getting out. I’m not ashamed to say, I went to the toilet paper first. My thought was not only about how much toilet paper my family did or did not have I also started thinking about my parents, friends and neighbors.
My two new friends whom I had met outside, Kimberly and a very educated gentleman from a local medical center, watched out for each other. We got to the back of the store at the same time, even though we had all taken different paths. We checked in with each other with a quick smile and nod. I kept smiling, making eye contact with all those around us. A gentleman next to me had sent his wife ahead because the grocery carts did not allow for quick access. Smart move. I saw her. She was a person on a mission and even though she was no taller than me and was a smaller framed body type, I had no doubt she was going to walk away with toilet paper. She did, two cases. I, and my new partners in survival, also got toilet paper. Kimberly was the first of our team there, took our orders on how many we wanted, tossed them out to us and we went on our way. The medical professional got one, Kimberly and I got two. Mission complete. My friendship with Kimberly was cemented for, when we went our separate ways, we made physical contact. A fist bump and we didn’t even use hand sanitizer.
I began to look around assessing the crowd and getting my mind on the list of items I did come for. Never did I feel fear, but I saw people who were scared. I saw people shaking their head and laughing at those, like myself, who had toilet paper in their carts. I wondered how many social media videos I would be in as people pulled out their phones and captured this “moment in our history”. I made one phone call to my husband. I was concerned if the car I was driving would hold what I was buying (I was in my son’s Mustang). He shared how he had faith in my figuring it out. He laughed but stated “Well at lease we and the neighbors will have toilet paper”. Told me he loved me and how if anyone could do this I could.
I got into a checkout line which yes, was long, but moved quickly. At the very end, right as I approached the register, it happened. The younger person behind me had made a call to someone she cared about. I know, how dare I listen, and just so you know I did work on not listening, but it was the concern in her voice that struck me. She was describing the numbers of people in the store and how full of items most the carts were. She began talking about others in her life she was concerned for. She responded anxiously to the other person repeating the phrase “I don’t know”. The questions she asked that right now don’t have answers. The list of “what ifs” and “do you thinks” all demonstrated the weight of this situation on her. I decided I need to give her something.
I had finished getting my cart unpacked. She ended her call. I turned, smiled and looked into her eyes and said “We are going to be all right. This is simply one moment in all our lives where we have questions. This isn’t panic.” I gestured to the crowd. “It’s worry. We will make it through this by encouraging each other and caring about each other. You’ll see we have gotten through tougher moments in our history and we are going to get through this.” She responded very sincerely “Thank you, I really needed that”. We smiled.
Let’s make this moment count people. Be gracious, pray for our world right now, pray for wisdom and for truth to prevail. Pray for those who are sick, for those who are healing, for those whose loved ones are sick and for those who are looking for how we tame this bug. I believe in our tomorrows, both good and bad. I offer you a smile and HOPE.
By the way, A Mustang can hold 2 big cases of toilet paper, 3 boxes of various milks, detergent, 2 mixed nuts, jerky, peanut butter, 2 bags of bulbs for spring flowers, 1 case of coconut water, 1 big bag of cheddar and carmel popcorn, bacon, spinach, paper towels and hamburger meat, Nutella snacks, and 2 other frozen items from Costco. My husband was right. And yes, I got him his medicine for his allergies.