03 May 2020 | An Unexpected Hoarding

Not actually me
Not actually me

Guess we all have some kind of self-isolation story, right? Me, I’ve ticked off seven weeks of working from home, nervously watching the growing number of COVID-19 cases in my county and suddenly noticing the drop in people walking down my street. While I sometimes think that people in general aren’t taking this seriously, I know I am, and I’ve gotten resolute in not going out.

I haven’t even been to the store in all this time, rushing to enter the world of online ordering and contactless delivery. And what a strange journey that has been because I have caught myself starting to become fixated on ordering specific items (no, not toilet paper, which you can’t really get online anyway) to the point where I keep ordering more than I normally would. My current fix? Coffee creamer. Of all the things that I want to make sure I have, I keep ordering coffee creamer. Here’s the kicker: for someone dealing with bouts of acid reflux, why the sudden urge to drink coffee? I’ve gotten into cold brew, and as I have navigated which stores are good at delivery (Whole Foods, Walmart, Target) and which one stinks (Safeway), I’ve started breaking down my orders into groups based on what I need. Oh, and making sure to order early in the morning at the start of the week to get a good delivery time and the best chance of getting everything I want.

And what do I want? Coffee creamer. What does a person who limits his coffee to about 8 ounces and only in the morning need with seven bottles of creamer? Or a growing collection of cold brew coffee? Really, it’s become the strangest obsession: put a couple orders in to make sure I get either Starbucks or La Colombe cold brew. Don’t wait too long, I tell myself, even with three bottles of either in the fridge: go ahead and order, get more, just in case!

But just in case of what? While I still have complete disdain for the toilet paper hoarders, it’s dawned on me that I’ve just substituted that with something else. Should I order more sliced deli meat for sandwiches, too? Probably, I tell myself, and I should likely to do very soon, and while we’re at it, go ahead and get two more bottles of creamer (there’s a limit, you know!) and cold brew. But which brand? I can only get La Colombe at the Target or Whole Foods, but the latter doesn’t have the creamer I like. Better make it two orders.

And so on. This is how it’s been for me for me. It reeks of suburban First Worldism, I know. While I have told a friend to stop thinking that the food supply is going to collapse, here I am making a mental list of ordering more stuff at least twice a week as though it’s my last. Maybe everybody else is doing some version of the same mental game: looking at their refrigerators and making sure that it *never* looks like it’s getting low on anything because then it’s game over. And then I start looking at my friend through increasingly slitted eyes: maybe *this* bastard is the reason I can’t get *three* coffee creamers.

These are definitely the times that try mens’ souls.