These are Strange Times

These are strange times. You may have heard that once or twice recently. Wal-Mart closed here, 24/7 Wal-Mart, just to restock. The fact that a Wal-Mart closed, even temporarily, ought to be a warning to most normal people, and yet my wife thought I was overreacting.

“You need to stop worrying so much about the coronavirus,” she said. 

“I’m not worried about coronavirus, just dying.” I said, as I unpacked $300 worth of groceries from a local grocery store that was substantially higher in price than Wal-Mart. My wife, who is usually in charge of buying groceries, seemed perplexed by some of my purchases for outlasting the apocalypse. I had ten bags of potato chips, five cases of Diet Cokes (Ginger Lime), five frozen pizzas, and enough double-bagged bags of Margaret Holmes Tiny Butter Beans and Seasoned Field Peas & Snaps that the tires on the back of the Toyota 4Runner bulged a bit. I basically went on a supermarket sweep for junk and canned food. 

“Do you think we’re going to starve?” she asked. 

“Yes,” I said, “If we have to depend on my farming ability to provide food, we will starve.”

“Why’d you get three different types of Chips-Ahoy?” 

“I just saw them and wanted them,” I said. 

After the physical exertion of unloading groceries, I went to the couch (it took about thirty minutes to unload everything and stack the pantry to my wife’s standards) to rest while binging on coronavirus news. I noticed that apparently people in New York City were going to bars for one last drink before all the bars closed down. In the rural south, home of many Baptists, we don’t really approve of public drinking at bars, which means most people have to drink in the privacy of their own closet, but I did notice a similar “last-call” phenomenon happening at the big-box hardware store. I went to Lowes thinking it would be deserted, and, lo and behold, there was a long line of men trying to checkout at the two registers near the lumber aisles. Best I can figure, all the men had the same idea: We’d better stock up with building materials one last time. For many rural men, there’s nothing more relaxing than swaggering through a hardware store, checking the straightness of boards, and standing proudly behind a full lumber cart. 

Maybe we all figured if we’re going to be sequestered at home soon, we might as well focus on home improvement. I bought enough installation, concrete-board siding, and OSB sheathing to re-side another section or our old farmhouse. That’s a more productive use of time than binging-watching news on the couch or, well, binge-drinking in a closet. 

Never-ending Home Improvement Project

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