Madness…

I don’t need a lot. My personal shopping for the week would probably not half-fill a basket at the supermarket, let alone a trolley. I usually pick up what I need at a ‘corner shop’ and seldom have more than a day or two’s food in the pantry. The dog eats better, though, so every so often, a visit to the big store becomes a necessity to which I strongly object at the best of times.

Sunday was not the best of times.

The roads were all unusually empty. Sunday retail therapy seems to have become a family outing for many and the roads are often busier than during the week.  I thought that perhaps people were staying home to avoid possible infection, rather than hitting the shops.

Apparently not. They were all at the supermarket.

It took ages to find a parking spot, then armed with my empty basket, I joined the jostling throng. I have never seen anything like it… not even in the run-up to Christmas, when queues can stretch down the aisles. The store was heaving with people, piling trolleys high with multiple packs of anything they could get their hands on. Many of the shelves were completely empty, arguments were breaking out, staff were looking haggard and harried as siege mentality took hold and people thought only of their own needs.

I overheard one conversation between a couple shopping, each with a trolley of their own, gloating over the fact that they had managed to get twice as many of the items in short supply as they would have done had they shopped together as usual. I also saw an elderly lady, standing bewildered and in tears in one aisle where all the shelves had been emptied.

It is natural to try to protect yourself and your family when you feel under threat and between the measures that governments are putting in place across the world and the media coverage, panic seems to be setting in for an awful lot of people. Panic is a fear reaction and making sure you have more than enough for your potential needs is one way in which you might wrest back at least a semblance of control over events beyond your reach… even if that sense of control is only an illusion. What shocked me the most, though, was the utter lack of logic.

It may be sensible to ensure you have enough supplies to wait out a week or two of self-isolation, though most supermarkets do offer a delivery service these days. But, if you are trying to avoid the spread of infection, is it really a good idea to take the whole family shopping, filling the store to bursting point, so that someone can push an extra trolley load while potentially picking up the very infection you are trying to avoid? Is there any point at all in the closure of schools or the cancellation of mass gatherings if whole families are going to be indiscriminately exposed to unknown dangers, just so that they can buy an extra tin of beans or packet of pasta?

I had to wonder, too, how many had thought to check with elderly or infirm neighbours who are most at risk to see if they needed anything… there did not seem to be any evidence of concern for others in the mad dash to grab as much as possible from the fast-emptying displays. Oddly, though, there seemed to be no shortage of soap on the shelves… and the donation baskets for the food banks were most noticeable by their absence.

I was determined not to jump on the bandwagon and write about the current pandemic. But the display of brutish, herd mentality that I witnessed today shocked me to the core.

It is not the whole story though. There are many who are looking out for others, keeping an eye on vulnerable neighbours, or setting up initiatives to ensure that those who will struggle most get a little help and support. I would like to believe that these people form the majority… I certainly hope so, for if what I saw today is an example of humanity’s response to crisis,  then we have completely lost our way.

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com.
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96 Responses to Madness…

  1. I had a similar experience. The occasional 10.00am Sunday Shop is usually quiet…
    It isn’t humanity that acts in this way. It is the misguided follow the ‘Scaremongering Lame Stream Media, Can’t Think For Themselves Sheep’… 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Sadje says:

    I am happy to know that there are genuine people out there helping others. Most of the ones I saw were just helping themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I must be honest, I am quite shocked at how the people of the western world are reacting to this crisis, Sue. YOur story about the old lady in tears is awful. I can’t help thinking that if WW2 was now, the outcome would be very different. Stay safe.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Violet Lentz says:

    Couldn’t have said it better myself. Saddened and appalled…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog and commented:
    I had the same experiences yesterday (Sunday), and Sue sums up my thoughts exactly 🤔

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jaye Marie says:

    We had expected something similar when we visited our local supermarket, but everything seemed normal. Maybe the insanity hasn’t reached Hampshire yet!

    Like

  7. Ian Hutson says:

    Usually in “my” little area of England I can choose almost any time for a next day or day after delivery of groceries (I live on my boat, I don’t have a car) – just checked this morning, not a single slot available until April (and I only say April because that month isn’t shown yet – will doubtless be booked up in seconds when it is).

    The IDIOT “charity” running the canal system is still insisting that everyone moves about constantly (we’re not allowed to moor in the same “general area” for more than fourteen days) so I can’t even just book far in advance and wait…

    Like

  8. This whole hoarding thing is scary. I keep wondering if this is going to cause as many fatalities as the pandemic since it’s getting so bad. I’ve seen some people grabbing insane amounts of perishables, which will go bad before they’re down. Others I’ve read are getting the basics and selling them for really high prices online. A friend saw a 12-pack if toilet paper on eBay for $200. Guess we’re seeing what people are really like in the face of a crisis.

    Like

  9. I’m flumoxed by it all. I did call my elderly neighbor who’s wife is in care to check and see if he needed anything. He was grateful for the call and with a little chuckle said he was fine. I think he was sitting back wondering at the world too.

    Like

  10. willowdot21 says:

    Yes indeed Sue, I agree and mother nature is sorely testing us! A line from a poem I wrote the other week . :The people turn on eachother
    Neighbour, husband, wife, sister, brother.
    Empty shops, no fuel they could not stand
    Then all civilian movement was banned
    The crops and animals died on the land.
    Drones flew over head, all was scanned.
    Mother Nature watched with a tear
    Chaos in weeks, rebellion, extinction within a year.
    Hope I am wrong 💜

    Like

  11. Absolutely crazy. I think people have lost their reasoning powers!

    Like

  12. We had a similar experience yesterday in Tesco’s. Shocking how people are behaving and depriving those who need it most. Xx

    Like

  13. I saw that happening on Saturday morning. We are fairly stocked up, I’ve been doing a backpack at a time for the last couple of weeks. I decided to go to the store on the way to work and got there five minutes after they opened. The lines were already to the back of the store and the shelves were beginning to look stripped. We have plenty for now. I went straight to work instead.

    Like

    • Sue Vincent says:

      I probably ought to have a little more than dog food in my cupboards, but I can manage on what the local shops provide. I am not going to add to the chaos in the big store again.

      Like

  14. besonian says:

    I really don’t know how to respond to grown people behaving like that. And like another commenter – I find the story of the old lady in tears particularly shocking and utterly shameful. Beyond that, I’m at a loss for words – except to say that like the lady from Hampshire, we in this part of South London, seem spared stuff like that at the moment. Long may it last.

    Like

    • Sue Vincent says:

      Everyone seemed in their own little world… closed to the needs and presnce of other, Jeff, apart from when they were reaching for the same last packet on the shelves…
      By far the most depressing thing I have seen in many a year.

      Like

      • besonian says:

        I can imagine, Sue. That sort of behaviour gives me a feeling like there’s a lump of lead been lodged inside me. And can someone explain to me, in carefully chosen words, this mania for toilet rolls?? I mean…….

        Like

        • Sue Vincent says:

          Me too, Jeff. Loo rolls? Goodness knows… perhaps we have forgotten there are alternatives. Of maybe it is the fact that they represent a daily luxury and therefore a certain standard…

          Like

  15. Jaq says:

    We were lucky. The insanity started just after we did our normal monthly shopping. We managed to pick up a couple extra packs of toilet rolls after just to stay on top of things but I haven’t got my back-up 1 kilo bag of rice yet.

    I could be driven to write a dystopian novel over all this. The real threat comes from hoarding, leaving others without. Zombies couldn’t kill the species any more efficiently.

    I’ve seen posts on Facebook where sane people in the US who don’t normally buy guns are thinking of getting one now. What could possibly go wrong.

    Like

  16. Reblogged this on The Light Behind the Story and commented:
    In an important reminder to practice compassion over selfishness at times of crisis by Sue Vincent:

    Liked by 1 person

  17. My heart breaks every time I hear these types of stories. Similar things are happening here.

    Like

  18. The old lady in tears in the supermarket is heartbreaking. What about the souls who live from week to week who can’t afford to stockpile? It’s madness and there are many reaching out to others who are vulnerable here. The loving stories are there, just getting drowned out. Hugs to you all, Sue. ❤

    Like

  19. I have heard an idea floating around that for the first hour of opening; only elderly people are allowed in supermarkets and food shops so they can get what they need before the panic buying starts. All the major stores in the UK have been sent this idea, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens.
    I can’t help but also think that news and media are fuelling all this panic buying. With photos of empty shelves and customer fighting over a two-pack of toilet-roll on Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites, all it’s doing is adding fuel to the panic buying.

    God help us if somebody makes it law that it’s one item per household.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sue Vincent says:

      We’ve had rationing before… so if the panic continues, perhaps that might be a way of making sure those in need get what they need.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve seen some shops already implement the idea, although none of the big supermarkets yet. The best thing we can do is to check elderly relatives and neighbours are Ok and if they need anything. It’s good to see a lot of that happening.
        My 87-year-old father and 82-year-old step-mother have chosen to go into self-isolation (after listening to what Boris said yesterday). They tell me that they have enough food in their freezer to last them a good month. Fortunately, family live nearby, and although they’re not letting anyone in the house at the moment, somebody is always nearby if they need anything. We’re all keeping in touch with them via phone at least once a day.

        Like

  20. It is crazy everywhere, people are creating more chaos by hoarding items that otherwise is readily available, had to look at 3 places before I got diapers for my son as we were running low…we need to be considerate and kind, and we will all get through this with a much better understanding of each other…I feel your frustration but also hope with you for the best 🙂

    Like

  21. Mary Smith says:

    As when any crisis hits we will find our world divided into the selfish and the selfless. You were lucky to find soap! It, along hand sanitisers and similar products had all gone when Jon did the shop on Friday evening – loads of fresh fruit and veg on the shelves, though. I’ve heard you can’t buy a freezer in England because so many people have bought them in which to store their panic buying purchases. During WWII people helped others from under the rubble – while others were rummaging in the rubble for stuff to loot. The scaremongering that’s been going on is appalling. A friend who is a nurse in intensive care says there isn’t a single case of the virus in our region (so far) but his ward is full of people who are seriously ill with respiratory infections. Those respiratory infections are the usual flu we get every year, which causes far more deaths than Covid 19 – and have you noticed there’s nothing in the media this year about flu epidemics or winter vomiting bugs? Did they all stop when Covid 19 made an appearance?
    Sorry, rant over.

    Like

  22. Well said Sue…The media certainly does not help and neither does the government.. Officials make sweeping statements such as everyone over 70 will go into lock down for four months.. and then a couple of hours later, apparently they can still walk the dog…They should not be frightening people into panic mode without a plan given at the same time as to how it will work with regard to food and care. On top of that the media is full of how those over a certain age won’t receive priority treatment. Confusion reigns and some of those filling their trollies that I saw today seemed to think that pot noodles, coco cola and chocolate cheerios were just the nutrition their families needed for a period of isolation. I have to say in Ireland the main supermarkets have been issuing daily updates on social media with assurances that they will be making daily deliveries and will continue to do so. Tesco was quite depleted this morning when I did my usual weekly shop but they were restocking after the weekend. xx

    Like

    • Sue Vincent says:

      Clear and consistent information is sadly lacking and both the media and social media need to think again about the stories that many are putting out there. It is only adding to the fear. The pandemic may well need to be taken seriously…look at the appalling numbers of those who died in 1918 with the ‘Spanish Flu’… but there is still room for common sense, surely.

      Like

  23. It is madness Sue. We found it Saturday evening and decided to do an early shop in one of the bigger town 20 miles away as we have more supermarket choice for the few things on our list. We shop monthly, then top up weekly. We cannot do that now, and our weekly top up is restricted. Why does everyone need ice cream (freezers empty) and is everyone really going mad on baking as there wasn’t a single packet of SR flour anywhere. Rice, pasta, UHT milk, eggs, soap, toilet and kitchen rolls, shelves stripped.
    We live in an elderly community, many on mobility scooters. Queues were forming outside shops an hour before opening. There is no need to stockpile provided everyone is sensible. But sense has gone out of the window as fear takes hold IMO

    Like

  24. Eliza Waters says:

    Collective insanity. Praying for cooler heads to prevail… a la Kipling… “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs…”

    Like

  25. fransiweinstein says:

    It’s the same here (in Toronto). I decided to order groceries online last Friday and have them delivered. I got just 3 of the items I wanted. Grocery store aisles are totally empty. I have NEVER seen anything like it. Stay safe and stay healthy Sue.

    Like

  26. Widdershins says:

    I’m not surprised, it’s worse than most people think. 😦 … certainly worse than the ‘officially tested’ numbers are showing, and most governments and institutions are making up their responses, still, as they go along, even with the information they most assuredly have by now.
    The cumulative effects on our society will be felt for decades.
    There’s no-one alive with a living memory of how the world was the last time this happened, and the world we all knew on 1st January this year, has changed. Life on Earth has always been precarious, but now the veneer has well and truly been peeled back for us humans. That doesn’t make it any less precious or beautiful 🙂
    I think people would feel less threatened if they had an ‘enemy’ they could see, but the fact that the very air they breathe is antithetical to their well-being is sending them into a tail-spin, whether they’re aware of it or not.
    None of this, of course, excuses their behaviour, in any way shape or form.
    Please plan for the worst and when (hopefully, not ‘if’) there’s a better outcome than that, you will be well-placed to help others. We are going to need our Teachers and Wise Women more than ever on the other side of all this.

    Like

    • Sue Vincent says:

      “I think people would feel less threatened if they had an ‘enemy’ they could see..” That sums it up, I think. We have, collectively, always feared death… but that is a long time coming for most people, Now we fear life.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Widdershins says:

        I have moments when I just want to hide in a corner and have a good cry … had one yesterday and felt so much better afterwards. 🙂 … I usually put on some boppy 50’s/60’s rock-n-roll and dance the energy out. Great exercise, and gets my endorphins back to sitting on a beach somewhere sipping their piña colada’s 😀

        Like

  27. macjam47 says:

    Oh Sue, what a nightmare! I did my shopping before the huge throngs did theirs, but even then, the stores were running short of a lot of things. People were kind and thoughtful, for the most part. One poor lady whose children’s school had been canceled, was in a panic. She cried, “What am I to do? There’s no peanut butter, no juice, no milk, no toilet paper, no bread! Snack food and soft drinks are gone, too! How am I to feed my three children!” My heart went out to her. The canned soup was gone and I saw an older lady telling a young mom what to buy for homemade soup and how to make it. I don’t know what people were like the next day when the crowds emptied every shelf in the store (everyone that was there posted photos). I hope they were civil. Everyone seemed to be buying cases of bottled water. Our water supply is safe and not in danger of shutting down, so I’m confused about that. I think people are afraid of what will be available when this virus really runs rampant. Stay well, my friend. ❤️❤️❤️

    Like

  28. I always have my stuff delivered, but if I wasn’t, I would be now. Not because of risk of infection, but because I don’t want to get caught in the middle of that. It’s anxiety-inducing enough trying to get a slot, and wondering just how much of my delivery is going to be able to be provided. It makes me sad to think of it, and to know how people are behaving.

    Like

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