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  • Writer's pictureMoss Kaplan

Shopping for The Apocalypse

Yesterday I decided to head to Costco to see if I could take the pulse of a panicked nation. Plus, I needed dental floss. I thought I'd get there right as it opened to avoid the worst of the crowds. A few other people had the same idea.

Did I really want to stand in that horrific line just to get a six-pack of Glide? I decided I did. The internet defines economic scarcity as "the gap between limited resources and theoretically limitless wants. This situation requires people to make decisions about how to allocate resources efficiently, in order to satisfy basic needs and as many additional wants as possible." Scarcity apparently affects parking habits as well.

I'm not sure if ambivalence is an emotion that you can read on other people's faces, but many folks in line seemed uncertain if they wanted to be a part of the madness. This mostly registered as nervous grinning. This lady decided it was all too much.

The smile on my face was because I was getting closer to the store entrance!

"You here for the apocalypse?" I asked the man in line behind me.

"Nah," he said. "My lazy boss sent me to pick him up protein shakes. You?"

"Dental floss."

"Cool. Snow coming in tomorrow," he said.

"I heard just an inch," I said.

Once inside, I noticed that they had moved the TV's aside to make room for:

sweatshirts. Toilet paper, I'd understand. The last remaining bottles of hand sanitizer on the planet? Of course. But sweatshirts? At any rate, no one was buying.

People wanted the good stuff: meat. Americans love their meat. Americans panic at the thought of not having enough meat. I asked this lady if I could take a picture of her with her meat.

The only thing I had in my cart was a mesh bag of those little red cheeses wrapped in wax. I figured the wax could come in handy during The Apocalypse if I ended up needing to make my own candles. By the time I got near the dry goods aisles, it was pretty clear I'd have to abandon my cart because there was nowhere to move. "Hell on wheels," I said to the woman beside me. She smiled, and shrugged. America was panicked, sure, but everyone was being pretty friendly about it. At least, today.

I left my cart and cheese next to an enormous mound of unripe avocados, and weaved my way past the milk (no takers), and the condiments (practically empty aisle!), to the front of the store where they keep the good stuff: candy, heartburn medication, and dental floss!

While shopping for The Apocalypse, I learned that scarcity affects us all differently. For some people, it's socks:

For others, its imagining life without electricity:

For me, it's dental floss:

There's been a lot of rancor, division, and polarization in American life lately. But we do come together in times of crisis. And we like to do it at Costco.

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