Tuesday, March 17, 2020

It's Hamsterkäufe Time!

What a great word--Hamsterkaufe--a German word for a hoarding, panic shopper. I'm sure you have seen plenty of that all over the country as of late. I wanted to do a blog about this time in our lives, because it changed so fast, it was mind blowing.

We put our house on the market around January 10 of this year, and immediately had LOTS of interest. We had 19 showings in less than 6 weeks. We had an offer the first week. Wifey overruled her hubby. He wanted a house on the golf course, she wanted a newer one. Wifey won. Round 2, off and running again with the sale. We were planning on buying an RV and hitting the road again once we got a sale and closed. As the showings increased, we got more excited and started RV shopping--just looking. The buyer wanted a closing date within 3 weeks. We said yes. It was getting closer and closer to closing, and then--coronavirus hit and the stock market dropped like a rock. The buyer backed out. 

Corona virus, or Covid-19 first came on the radar around December. The first case has been traced back to an elderly man in Wuhan, China in November. Come to think of it, we weren't even aware of the virus at the time we put our house on the market in January. But as February came and went, the virus exploded with all its ramifications. And here we are now, with everyone else, wondering when the lockdown is going to happen, if there is going to be a lockdown nationwide, and Sparky is wondering if she will ever get back to subbing this year before June. Schools here in southwest Florida are currently closed for three weeks, but some in other states, they are closed for the rest of the school year. Schools are going to provide drive up meals here in Sarasota, and restaurants are being forced to shift their focus from inside dining to carry out. The fall out is going to be huge. Many small businesses won't make it. Parents will lose their jobs because they have no day care for their school age kids. My grandson's school sent extensive emailed daily instruction plans to his mom for instructing him at home. Some schools have shifted to "E-learning". Some schools are just in a holding pattern, lacking the resources to provide learning at home. There are many fabulous sources for school age kids having to stay at home on extended break on the Internet right now...virtual field trips, great reading lists, great activities--(many we used to do when we boomers were little kids--imagine that!) Here's a link to start the ball rolling...

And now, we have "social distancing". It was already bad enough that society is extremely fragmented and fragile right now with the current political scene, and cellphones have overtaken eye to eye contact and the ancient art of conversation and listening skills, but now we have to socially distance ourselves from each other. No groups of more than 10 should congregate anywhere, and when in the presence of another person, stay 6 feet apart.  So sad...but necessary to stem and level off the curve of the rapidly expanding virus.

mid day at Costco on a Monday
Back to Hamsterkäufe time.....As the virus escalated, we decided along with everyone else, that maybe we should stock up a bit on groceries and necessities like toilet paper and paper towels, just in case we were going to be housebound for a bit. And that's where the panic buying started....We just wanted to find a pack of toilet paper, and there was none to be found. Why is toilet paper to be in such short supply? Hand sanitizer is understandable. Chlorox wipes are understandable. Buying multiple packs of toilet paper to stock up for 8 months is NOT understandable. It's not like it's a diarrhea virus going around or that there is a truckers' strike. At our local Costco, the line for toilet paper and paper towels was over a 100 people, being tightly controlled by employees and there were so many people coming into the store, they had to shut the doors for awhile during the day, having reached total allowable capacity. We encountered empty shelves devoid of not only toilet paper, and paper goods, but the also meat and canned goods everywhere we looked. As fast as stores could restock, they were emptied out again and again. And this continues to be the case, day after day after day. We are into only the first week of social distancing and the strong recommendation to STAY HOME, but if you have to shop, as fast as the stores restock, they continue to run out unless you get lucky and get there at the right time.

Why are so many people panic buying?  Sparky culled some of the theories out there, and here they are....
1. When people are stressed, their reasoning is stressed. They look around to see what other people are doing, and it's the "herd" mentality that kicks in, with a snowballing effect. When we don't know what to do, we look to others to see what to do.
2.  This is a virus we know nothing about. When there's a flood or hurricane, people know what supplies to buy. When it's the unknown, people panic and become a little neurotic, so they gravitate towards larger objects to make them feel more in control. Large toilet paper packages make people feel more secure. (BWAHAHAHAHAHA....Eldo is rolling on the floor, laughing his you-know-what off. Hey, Sparky is just reporting generalities here, nothing very scientific.)
3. People are having an overabundance of fear, so in order to rationalize that, the need to affirm they are doing the right thing by stocking up, overwhelms the thought that they don't need to be doing that. Or something like that....lol.

Therefore....All that = a shortage of toilet paper (and hand sanitizer).  Maybe it's because there's a lady in Australia (true story, not fake news) that accidentally bought 48 boxes of toilet paper instead of a 48 rolls online.  She failed to notice the massive credit card bill until the pallets started arriving to her home in Queensland. The name of the supplier?  "Who Gives a Crap?"   And Sparky is going to end with that.....