I spend Sunday deep cleaning the house and shoring up my pantry’s inventory. The mild head cold mixed with confusing instructions coming from authority figures resulted in my staying home from work for half of last week. I tried to catch up on things. Mail, for example. Dishes, for another. Sleep, of course and always.
Three (two and a half) months later and I still haven’t touched the ‘finances’ tote. Christmas break gave me time to assemble it. The bills are all paid but they’re hardly filed. Taxes are coming up, probably then, I think. Instead I disassemble a cheap waffle iron that broke before I could cook a single waffle with it. I cannot find the short which is disappointing, it’s just wires and elements.
I spend the day cleaning. The house smells brand new, like I painted. I have not. I clean out the fridge. I clean out the car. I take out the various bags of trash to the bins.
Shrugging off a sweat soaked fleece hoodie and workout pants I trip over the clay pots I had stacked in the tub. I place them back in the half alcove I’ve converted into a nusery, take half a shower and change into something passable. Gliding into the local mega-mart’s parking lot I send a quick snap to my ‘story’ of the store from behind my car. I’m reflected in the window.
Big Text Caption: “As of this moment, we are all dead. We go into battle to reclaim our lives.”
This we do gladly.
Meijer’s appeal is that it’s Wal-Mart by any other name. Also things are a OCH cozier inside. They’re smart about store layout. But I wonder. It’s the first time I really noticed that they placed the toilet paper in the same isle as Milk, Butter and Coffee Creamer.
Taking the back way around through electronics, shoes, men’s and then women’s clothing to avoid most of the grocery traffic, I turn into the dairy isle. The rumors were true. It’s not just a post on Facebook.
A young couple notice my extremely normal “Pbhtbhtbht” sound that I didn’t mean to make, but there’s really no quiet form of “Pbhtbhtbht”. They’re examining the dwindling stock of cottonelle Wet Wipes. As it’s clearly no one’s first choice for butt-wipe, it is become both the Ringo Starr of the toiletry shelving, and also an oasis. A shimmering jewel of hope in the midst of the greatest conspiracy ever hatched by the “Big Bidet” industry. COVID-19? More like, COVID-19/11.
The wet wipes are deeply discounted. And I’m not alone in thinking this is strange.
They turn toward me and light up. We chat, laugh for a few minutes. We talk about how this doesn’t make any actual sense. I offer a rumor I heard that a friend of mine heard from a friend of there’s that someone said they’re shutting down toilet paper. The guy cracks a joke about how everyone shitting themselves about the virus are likely the ones buying up all the TP. It’s in better taste than mine that involves the Sioux nation.
Lucky for me I’m stocked on the least useful hygiene product in the American home. I’m here for milk. All the half gallons have been ransacked, so I grab a full gallon of 2%. I’m troubled. One half gallon will spoil before I can drink or use it all.
If I grab a package of Oreo’s, I’ll waste less. Find the isle. Hesitate at the double stuff. Seems… indulgent. I grab the single stuff Oreo’s.
Depression era attitudes towards food and it’s consumption. My truest family inheritance.
I also grab the Chewy Chips Ahoy. I throw shade at my shade.
I like them more and that is reason enough. It is also my birthday tomorrow, but I keep forgetting. And I don’t think of it then, but that’s justification too. I guess. My birthday’s are usually difficult.
I am also lactose intolerant to some degree. I ignore the opportunity to reconsider the TP needs.
I think that I know this is not a real emergency. It cannot be. There is too much coffee. It is deeply discounted. My brand is $2 dollars cheaper than usual. That, is capital W weird. But it is the second weird sale I’ve seen. I look for more, and I find more.
I’m getting the impression The supply chain is at some point of mostly if not entirely automated. Imagination: sparked.
How would I build a system with these resources? What would it do?
You control ordering, back inventory, store shelf inventory, ergonomics and consumer behavioral trends toward the third shelf off the ground. You have , databases of prices, flucuations in price, historic trends in supplies, third party deals and guarentees. You track the lifespan of a product from warehouse to storefront to the average american home. You can see all of this with UPC bar codes.
. This creates a mandatory rotation of products. You’d automatically want orders to go out at those intervals. Some things don’t. Sometimes vendors have new box art or new specifications for shelf placement. There are likely thousands of rules programmed into this system, if it exists. Dozens of rules for a single product depending on the sophistication of the vendor’s requirements for sales, I’d imagine.
Certainly their coupon system anticipates future purchases based on present sales. That’s kind of a tell. Their discount shopper card is also a window into consumer behavior, especially those motivated by strictly budgeting their groceries.
Anyone who have centralized this sort of process are uniquely vulnerable to manipulation if tracking sales of certain staples impact prices across different parts of their held inventory. There are a smattering of large beef roasts left in the coolers. They’re at half their normal price per pound.
They are not on sale.
Martial thinking isn’t guiding our latest band of survivalists.
I cannot think of what advantage ransacking the most quickly perished food and toiletry items offers to anyone trying to hold up until the end of May. This logic is compatible with a Jabba the Hutt family reunion and BBQ. It is everything but a pandemic mentality. And that is interesting.
There’s pattern logic here, but it’s not pointing towards plague.
It’s hard to believe that anyone is actually in any sort of survival mode. Dairy? Toilet paper? Pork, Chicken and most of the beef products? None of these items last but a few weeks at best.
I run into my brother-in-law. We discuss my sister. My friend Mark crosses both our paths. I introduce them. They shake hands. The in-law hurries back to my sister who’s been waiting much longer than she would have otherwise. Mark and I block the rice-a-roni for 40 minutes discussing some of the strange changes in his world.