Larry In Atlanta

(Although we say “Atlana” down here)

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Covid-19 has changed the way we live

The effects of Coronavirus on the population

Covid-19  has changed the way we live. The overreaction to the potential of having to be quarantined has caused most stores to be out of essential food and supplies. Meat is scarce, as is canned goods, frozen foods, hand sanitizer, soap, and the big one is toilet paper. People are running from store to store searching for whatever they can find.

We had heard about stores being low or out, but when my wife and I went to Wal Mart for some household items and I decided to get a few groceries as well, I was not prepared for what I found. Shelves were empty. I didn’t need much and I got most of what we needed, but I wasn’t really worried. People would stop panic buying soon. Boy, was I wrong. The next weekend was an adventure.

empth toilet paper aisle
Toilet paper ailse at WalMart

Hording and lines

line to get into sam's club
Line to get into Sam's Club

At first stores were allowing people to buy whatever they wanted, now when they get a supply in they are limiting quantities and posting “no returns” policies on certain items to attempt to keep people from hording. At a Sam’s club the other day I was standing in line to get in. Yes, standing in line. I was only shopping for some normal work supplies like I do every week, but now there were 150 people waiting to get in. While in line we were told that they had “one pallet of Clorox wipes, one pallet of paper towels, one pallet of bathroom cleaner”, etc. They were only allowing people to buy one of each of these. Someone asked about toilet paper, and the manager said they didn’t have any. At that point I saw six or seven people leave.

The next weekend after my Wal Mart trip it seems like I spent most of my time shopping. I was able to get most of what I wanted Friday evening, except for meat. The one store I went to had none, save for some high end steaks, a couple of frozen turkeys, and a few hams.

The next day I went to four more stores with the same result. No meat. I went back Sunday morning and they only had a few small packs of chicken. (I got two. Score!). One store near me has a “senior hour” on Tuesday and  Wednesday at 7 am. I was able to get some meat to do us for a couple of weeks, but they were still very dry.

I am even reading where there is an over demand for freezers so people can store more food.

Meat section at WalMart


Gas lines in 1979
Gas lines in 1979

I’ve been fortunate to not have to witness a lot of shortages in my lifetime. There were two gasoline shortages, one in 1973, the other, much bigger, in 1979. That one lead to super long lines and rationing. Stations were limiting the gallons you could get, as well as government rules that dictated staggered days when you could buy gas. Odd tag numbers on odd days, even on even days. People would run out of gas while in line only to be told that the station had run out as well.

And here in the south whenever there’s a threat of ice or snow, all the stores will run out of essentials due to panic buying.The first things to go are milk, bread, soup, and of course, toilet paper. Because two inches of snow will mean schools will be closed for a week.

In Atlanta it only takes the threat of snow to cause people to close the schools and empty the stores.

Atlanta during an ice storm
empty canned goods shelves
Canned goods aisle at Wal Mart

Walking through stores with empty shelves and meat counters can have an effect on people. I am having to keep telling myself to not worry, that we don’t have a shortage. This is an over demand due to panic. Chickens still lay eggs, cows still give milk, plants are making toilet paper as fast as they can. But still I still think about “do I really need a whole sheet of paper towel or can I use half?” I find myself cutting down the amount of milk I put in my cereal each day and wondering if I can get away with fewer eggs for Sunday French toast.

Now I’m beginning to see the reason the generation before me acts like they do when it comes to conservation of food and supplies.


In the 40s, during WWII (before my time) many goods were rationed. Either because workers were over fighting the war, or because the supplies were needed for the war effort. “Meatless meals” and “Wheatless Wednesdays” were promoted. Not just food, but tires and gasoline were rationed as well. Also typewriters, bicycles, shoes, rubber footwear, silk, nylon, fuel oil, and stoves. Meat, lard, shortening and food oils, cheese, butter, margarine, processed foods (canned, bottled, and frozen), canned fuits, canned milk, firewood and coal, jams, jellies, and fruit butter.

People really had to learn how to conserve.

WWII ration cards
WWII ration cards

Real shortages

children in line for food during the great depression
Children in line for food during the Great Depression

My mother was born in 1919, so she was a teenager during the Great Depression. Then she endured the shortages and rationing of food and supplies during WWII. That mindset was with her all of her life. We always laughed thinking how she never threw anything away, you never know when you will need it. I kinda feel like her now. We’ve all seen the post apocalypse movies where people were scrounging for food and supplies. Or the documentaries about war torn areas. We never thought that could happen here, even on this small scale.

Hopefully we’re looking at a few weeks of this, it’s hard to imagine years of it. And there’s just the two of us, what about families with kids?

Now I know in the long run this “shortage” will only be a blip on the radar, we will be back to normal very soon. But in the back of my and probably many other people’s minds will linger the thought that what if it happens again? Will we now buy a little more than usual when we shop? Will we be a little more conservative in our usage? Or will we just go back to the same ol’ same ol’ ways. Time till tell.

Yes, Covid-19 has changed the way we live, but I know for us, I’m not going to hoard, but maybe we’ll have a little extra on hand. Just in case the weatherman predicts a snow flurry.

Full grocery store meat section
We dream of full meat counters

Hold On!

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