“Other Thing” #1

This is Sonny in 2017. Fortunately, he has found other interests in 2020.

It feels odd to be posting something other than a poem today, but I wanted to let you know that I will be getting into a regular schedule of posting poems on Tuesdays and Fridays. In my first week of blogging, I wanted to post several poems so that you would get an idea of what to expect, more or less. This, as the title indicates, is my first “other thing” post. Like you, I’ve been mourning the loss of our “old lives”.

The surreality of the world right now has been having a profound impact on us all, and that point was driven home Friday morning more than ever when I went to Costco. I had expected that the many people who are always waiting outside for the 9 AM store opening would be in the warehouse already, and at 9:10, when I arrived, I would simply sail into the store and get my shopping done. Well, it didn’t go quite that way.

Much to my horror, what greeted me was a long line of people curling around the side of the building. The line-up then snaked up and down three long rows, created by various barriers, before it got to the entrance. It was a bitterly cold April morning, and I hadn’t even taken gloves and a scarf because I had expected just to zip into the store. The line moved quite well for most of the way, but then it stopped when I was right in view of the entrance. The Costco people were only letting a certain number of customers into the store at a time, making sure that crowding didn’t occur in the warehouse which naturally would have made it more difficult for people to maintain a healthy distance from one another. That meant the next group had to wait outside until several of those people had gotten their groceries and left the store. Time slows down, it seems, when you’re waiting for anything, and the colder the wait, the slower time passes.

When I finally got into the place, I was beyond thrilled, and when I got to the huge display of toilet paper, I was ecstatic. The last time I had been in Costco, I had witnessed massive hoarding by, what I considered to be, wildly selfish people. The scene was reminiscent of those videos you see of people in stores on Black Friday fighting over smart TVs at rock bottom prices — but — but this was toilet paper! I had managed to get one big package and left the ugly mob feeling morally superior to them because I had only taken one. I also wondered if these idiots were under the impression that Covid 19 was an intestinal bug. Obviously, Costco had learned from the hoarders, and now people were only being allowed to take one big package at a time. There was even a Costco employee guarding the display. Civility had returned to Costco.

Why I was feeling particularly happy about the resurrection of “old world” behaviour was because I had actually thought about the toilet paper situation several times since my last outing at Costco. (I think I must have been mildly traumatized by my experience there.) I was well-stocked, but I had visions of not being able to find any toilet paper when I needed to get more, and quite frankly, it kind of worried me. I don’t normally worry about toilet paper. Never have. Never expected to. At times, I found myself trying to reason what I’d do if I were to actually run out of toilet paper, and I thought that maybe pulling the layers of Kleenex tissues apart would possibly be a solution. I have a nice stash of Kleenex. Beyond that, I had no solutions.

I suspect the reason that toilet paper has become such an obsession for so many people, including me to some extent, is because our lives feel so out of control. We don’t know what’s going to happen to our families and friends, nor do we know what’s going to happen to the economy. We don’t know how long we’re going to have to live in our homes, seldom going out, and worst of all, even the experts admit they don’t know. However, if we are well-stocked with toilet paper, we have, at least, one important aspect of our lives still under control. It’s just a theory, of course, but I want to rationalize my somewhat irrational interest in the whole subject.

I look forward to the day when I’m unconcerned about standing within six feet of other people and the availability of toilet paper. What I do know is that the most difficult periods of my life have always led me to positive changes in either myself, my environment, or my situation — sometimes all three. Until then, just remember, the limit is one package!

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