An open letter to hoarding shoppers

empty shelves

This isn’t funny anymore. At first it was mildly amusing, in the beginning when it spawned toilet-paper shortage jokes. But this is more than a month in now, and it needs to stop. I’m pissed, and I’m going to use curse words in this column—apologies to the sensitive. This behavior is getting serious and dangerous.

What the fucking fuck, people?

You know who you are. You are the ones who take four family members to a store and each check out separately so you can flout the store’s “two-per-customer” limits. You’re the ones who line up outside stores at 7 o’clock in the morning so you can make a mad dash to the toilet paper and household cleaning aisles and clear them out so sweet fuck-all is left for anyone else.

Why? Because this crisis which we are all in together and which has upended all of our lives is all about YOU. YOU matter more than everyone else. YOUR family is more important than everyone else’s family. YOUR children are more important than other people’s children.

I don’t believe for a second you’re actually using and actually need all the hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, disposable gloves, and other things you are hogging at everyone else’s expense. You would have to literally bathe in hand sanitizer and sew the wipes together and carpet your house with them. No, you’ve got it all stashed in your garage or basement, waiting for…what?

And I also don’t believe for a second that you bought this stuff all in one massive shopping trip to last you two or three months at the beginning of the lockdown and have been holed up inside ever since; if that were the case then the stores would have had a chance to replenish everything by now. No, you are continuing to go out daily and weekly and buy and hog everything—which actually raises your risk of contracting the virus each time you enter a store.

The thing that pisses me off most is that there would be enough sanitizer, disinfectants, gloves and other stuff for everyone if you selfish pigs only bought what you actually needed and used, then waited until you ran out of it to go back to the store. Like most of us normal people do.

I’ve read that even Tylenol isn’t safe from you rapacious shitheads. You’re not hogging it because you have coronavirus, you’re hogging it in case you get coronavirus. Meanwhile, someone who actually gets the virus can’t use Tylenol to reduce their fever because it was all sold out of the stores.

Ironically, your selfish behavior is making you and the world around you LESS safe from coronavirus. For every disinfecting and protective item you don’t use that you hoard, that means someone else is more at risk for catching and spreading the virus because they can’t access these things.

Mostly, I hate what you bring out in me.

A couple of weeks ago I was in a dollar store and saw that they still had three or four 10-packs of disposable gloves in stock, which I hadn’t been able to find anywhere. I bought only one pack because I wanted to leave some for other people. Silly me for thinking that way. Now I’m regretting not grabbing all of them; in other words, not thinking like you.

Recently I’ve been in a couple of stores and spotted unmanned checkout stations with a can of disinfectant wipes sitting there, and been truly tempted to just grab it and make a mad dash for the door.

I am now down to one lonely little disposable glove. I have two half-filled pocket-sized bottles of hand sanitizer and a pack of hand wipes that I already had before the pandemic began, I think there’s only one wipe left in there. I have been tearing them in half. Forget Amazon. Everything I need is “currently unavailable.”

When there’s a hurricane or blizzard coming, people often buy up milk and other stuff in preparation for being shut in for a string of days. But this event is open-ended, no one knows when life will go back to normal, only that it will, somehow, ultimately go back to normal. So, is it your intention to continue this behavior until it eventually does? How long do the rest of us have to wait until we don’t have to drive store to store searching in vain for everyday household products?

This is a viral pandemic, not the Apocalypse. In time, there will be a vaccine and a treatment found. When we emerge, hopefully stronger and better people because of it, it won't be any thanks to you.

I know you. I’ve known you most of my life. You’re the a-holes who take up two parking spaces so no one can ding your precious car.

A national crisis brings out the best and the worst in people. You’re either part of the solution or part of the problem.

Those healthcare workers, grocery workers, pharmacy workers, mail carriers, delivery drivers, restaurant takeout workers, police and other government servants who are risking their health on the front lines every day—they are part of the solution. You are part of the problem. You are the ugly flip-side of their selfless heroism.

You know who you are.

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