January 22nd, 2021

Hoarding toilet paper won’t solve the COVID-19 crisis

By Lethbridge Herald on March 21, 2020.

Al Beeber
Lethbridge Herald
Enough of the hoarding already! Now that Costco has limited toilet paper sale to customers, maybe people will start getting the hint that stocking up on certain things isnt necessary. And I hope other stores follow suit.
Given the stories that have emerged of people trying to sell toilet paper and sanitizers online for inflated prices, I have to wonder how much of the hoarding has been done out of greed, rather than fear.
Whatever the motivation for cleaning out store shelves of every commodity available, people need to come to their senses and just stop the hoarding.
Did it ever occur to the hoarders that some folks actually need certain things in the present, like senior citizens or mothers with young children?
Do the hoarders consider people who suffer health issues such as inflammatory bowel disease, colitis, Crohn’s or even chronic gastritis?
Panic-buying isn’t going to solve the Covid-19 crisis; it’s just going to create grief for our friends, neighbours and families.
In this difficult time, we need to start showing the type of people Canadians pride ourselves on being — compassionate, caring and helpful.
The me-first attitude being shown by so many is disgusting, reprehensible, selfish and completely pointless.
The panic that has set in among us is amplified by the barrages of videos posted to social media of shoppers lined up outside store doors and of empty shelves. Unwittingly and unintentionally perhaps, social media users have helped spread the panic by their own online activities.
I’m hearing people blame the media for the hoarding which is as stupid as an adult blaming Santa Claus for not putting a wanted gift under the tree. It’s buck-passing rubbish.
The media is doing its job, which is to inform the world of what’s going on. We aren’t the ones — I hope — loading up on unneeded toilet paper or cleaners. We are reporting to the world the reaction of citizens and government to this global crisis. Thanks to social media, we can update you constantly on the changing situation. I know we here at The Herald have been doing that since last week. I’ve tweeted multiple times about updates I’ve heard about cancellations — that is not spurring panic, it’s doing my job to inform people about the crisis.
And that crisis has hit home here in Lethbridge. Store shelves and freezers virtually empty of canned and frozen goods is a sight that has greeted many shoppers in the past couple of weeks.
Now that the Prime Minister has urged Canadians to stay home, I hope that doesn’t worsen matters. He did suggest on Monday, after all, not to buy what isn’t immediately needed.
Last weekend was perhaps the perfect storm for southern Alberta between the Covid-19 emergency and a winter snow warning that gave us two reasons to fear the worst.
And the storm lived up to its billing with a steady downfall of snow and cold winds that hampered visibility and created slick roads.
On Saturday morning, I and a couple of other hardy souls were outside early shovelling sidewalks to make life easier, at least for a few yards for neighbours who might have to walk to catch a bus.
The shovelling was brutal but thankfully we have a neighbour who brought out his snowblower and cleared walks on the entire block in the morning.
I needed a couple things and had to venture out early Saturday to Safeway.
I was shocked at what I saw shortly after 8 a.m. Pasta sauces and vegetables all gone. Even frozen pizza was nearly completely out of stock. There was some toilet paper available but other things weren’t. I truly felt sorry for the staff, some of whom I’ve gotten to know, as they scurried to fill shelves and freezers as quickly as they possibly could.
I saw the same kind of panic at Save-On North last Thursday when I stopped in around 5 p.m. to grab a sandwich, juice and a coffee because I suddenly got scared about going to the gym.
Panic mode was in full effect. Since I was stuck by the ginger beer while waiting for an open till, I bought a couple of packs to make Moscow Mules on the weekend. Priorities.
On the bright side, Costco on Sunday morning was back to normal. With Rio needing special food that has glucosamine, I took a chance and at 10 a.m. there was a sense of normalcy in the store.
Dog food and treats were abundant and there were no limits on pickled eggs so I grabbed a jar — again priorities. One woman told me after seeing the jar in my cart, maybe I should have grabbed a pack of the precious paper.
Customers were relaxed on Sunday, nobody was jostling each other around to get at the fresh meat that staff were stocking into coolers or running madly to load up their carts with anything else.
Hopefully, that was a sign of things to come, city residents calming down and realizing Armageddon isn’t here. We need to chill out for our own sanity and for the sake of everyone around us.
We need to exert caution and be wary of our own health. Are we coughing because of asthma, a cold or because the dog let one rip after scarfing a pickled egg? These are questions we need to ask ourselves.
Being asthmatic, I’m extremely worried about this situation. So I’ve been monitoring my airflow more often than usual and trying to avoid triggers like perfumes and dust.
If we are feeling sick, we need to take precautions and stay away from other human beings. We need to think not just about ourselves but everyone around us.
If we care about each other, we will get through this pandemic together.
But we need to work together, we need to help and respect each other. We need to quit panicking and hoarding.
My plan, as soon as the weather co-operates, is to spend as much time in our city parks with the dogs as I can, getting fresh air and exercise which are good for both the body and the mind.
We don’t have to hide indoors staring at social media; we can explore the world around us and we have plenty of open spaces in Lethbridge to enjoy.
Trust me, since getting my first dog in 2003, I’ve become a daily visitor to parks. Like most of you, I hope, I’m doing my best to deal with this crisis in a manner that is productive, healthy and considerate. Hoarding essentials is not one of those.
Follow @albeebHerald on Twitter.

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