The Siege

toilet paper

Pictured above is the toilet paper aisle at the local Walmart. I took this a few days ago; Lord knows I wouldn’t go there now. I have heard reports that it’s crazy in there, people are emptying out the store. I think for now that if we can’t get it at our local gas station, that we can do without.

The question for me is how long of a disruption is this going to cause? No one is discussing this at the moment, but I’m thinking this might be a really good year to expand my Three Sisters Garden. This would be akin to the old WW2 Victory Garden, where you ease strains on the country’s logistics chain by raising what you can yourself on your own property.

I know for certain that my great-grandparents did exactly that during the Depression, there was always a chicken in the pot and maybe some dumplings if you were lucky. Ketchup soup if you were not.

But they got through that, and so will we. War, famine, disease and perfidy; our ancestors have seen it all. Now it’s our turn.

It is amazing how one week can change everything. Last week I was still on the knife edge of visiting Australia, balancing on the decision. And then the decision was taken out of my hands. Borders slammed shut, mandatory quarantines were announced. Poof went my vacation; and it went from being a major focus to vanishing insignificance next to dwindling resources and sickened friends.

Every morning I go for a walk around dawn. A few days ago I noticed significantly less traffic, the schools had closed.

schools out

My youngest daughter was affected by this, so I wasn’t surprised not to see the usual bustle in the village around 6-7 AM. I let out a small whistle. Lord, the streets were empty. It was weird. I eventually made it to my buddy’s industrial shop, it’s my turn around point on the walk.

Oddly, his vehicle was out in front. Usually he would get to the “office” around 8 or 9, it was 0645. I walked to the small door and called out; my friend opened the door and turned on the light. He had been sleeping on a piece of foam with a jacket for a pillow.

What the hell, I asked. Had he been in a fight or something?

No. His wife, an RN, had self-quarantined. She returned sick from a cruise and told him to get out of the house.

Whoa.

I walked back to my house, got an Army cot and a sleeping bag. I threw it in my Jeep and returned to the shop. The hell if I would let my bud sleep on the cement floor. I gave him the camping gear. While I was at it, I ran into town. There was some maintenance due on my truck, so I stopped by the Jeep garage.

It was dead as a stone. Of course they could get me in. What needed to be done took an hour and a half, so I had some time to kill. I listened to the not-so busy salesmen chatter. To hear them, there were some pretty choice rumors floating around. They seemed to be the mirror image of what a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson had tweeted a couple of days before.

foreign ministry spokesman

This was getting weird.

After a period of coffee drinking and mounting nervousness, I got back in my truck. I slathered my hands with precious hand sanitizer and drove off, destination a big-box DIY store called Lowe’s.

As I drove, the strong scent of the stinging hand lotion filled the truck’s cabin. How had a ninety-nine cent bottle of sanitizer transformed into a six-dollar bottle of gold? I shook my head and decided that if the parking lot of Lowe’s was full, I would keep driving.

To my relief it seemed fine. I pulled in and went into the store, we needed some gardening supplies.

No, raising a garden is not an oh-shit thing for us, we have always kept a small patch. Some years bigger, some years smaller. I went to the seeds department, I passed by cleaning supplies. I glanced at it.

Suffice to say that if you needed to wipe your butt or clean the counters, you were out of luck.

I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw that the gardening section hadn’t been subjected to the same horde of locusts. Not yet, anyhow. Picked up some planting pots, some seeds and of course a bag or two of organic potting mix. Our garden last year was pretty awesome, no reason to think that this year it would be any different.

The clerk looked tired when I checked out. She made a comment about how the night before had been a madhouse, customers were losing their minds. I thanked her and threw my swag in the Jeep. With haste, I left town. On the way home my phone vibrated, when I pulled in I checked it.

My buddy Pete texted to say that he was pulling security on a butcher shop by a large city.

Really?

Within 72 hours, we had gotten to the point that it was necessary to post a guard by a butcher shop in an ultra low-crime area.

I wished him luck.

Unloaded the truck and went inside. My daughter asked if she could go with a friend into the city. She wanted to go to a book store, she was bored. Under normal circumstances, no problem at all. But with what I had just witnessed and heard?

No, I said.

The siege had begun.

 

11 thoughts on “The Siege

  1. That’s incredible Jason. In Australia we’re panic buying still, I think we may have kicked off the fixation on toilet paper, but so far things are fairly controlled. We still have the luxury of arguing with the authorities about the advice we’re being given, mainly because we’re watching stuff unfolding in Europe and the Americas and wondering if/when we’ll reach that stage. In Western Australia where I am we’re protected a bit by our isolation. I’ve joked with Sydney based friends that if NSW gets out of hand WA just might close the borders with the rest of the country so y’all plague ridden eastern states people don’t invade. Decades worth of jokes about needing a passport to come over this side of the country might come true.

    I hope you and yours are well and you get through things ok xx

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  2. It truly saddens me to see how quickly we disintegrate as a society. People physically fighting over toilet roll. No thought for the elderly and disabled. I had thought a lot better of us as a society. I hope we rise above this and prove ourselves to be better.

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    • It’s horrifying how quickly governments are losing control of the narrative, and with events and large gatherings being cancelled in Australia how quickly the incomes of all our artists and hospitality workers are evaporating. I think we’re about to learn very quickly that we live in a society and not an economy, and the enormous lie that is casualisation and the gig economy will finally be laid bare.

      Andrew P Street has a great article on his Patreon about how the trend for running countries like they are businesses with Just In Time (JIT) procurement strategies is leaving us shockingly vulnerable to disruption to things like viruses that don’t care about efficiencies, or borders, or budgets: https://www.patreon.com/posts/how-demand-for-34921668

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  3. Yes I went shopping at a supermarket for the usual stuff on Saturday morning – I usually try getting there with son in tow about 7.30am as the place is usually empty. Not so this time…lots more folks, although well behaved. Detritus on the floors like a wind or locusts had passed through. I got what I sought, but there wasn’t a skerrick of toilet paper, hand wash, dry pasta and a few other things to be had. Very weird I must say! Now most of my team at work mostly work at home, sports stuff is cancelled, and my voluntary beach patrol (surf lifesaving) has been cut to minimum numbers just in case (I’m Patrol Captain, my rescue boat crew, and two others for a total of 5!). I imagine more weirdness has yet to be revealed.

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    • I’ll trade you a roll of shit tickets for a schooey. I’ve been just grabbing two extra tins of whatever I know I’ll eat each day. for the past few weeks. Just about done for a 3 week isolation. Hmm, now for booze prepping. BTW you know Mark Stevens? He’s my boss. His mum just passed away, poor bugger.

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      • Thanks, all for letting me know what’s happening down there with you. We figure on hanging out here in the house for the next month or so, minimum contact. Already starting to get a tad stir crazy.

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  4. Shit’s been ramping up on the stupid side here in Oz. The virus is already out in the community so it’s a matter of minimising your own risk. The shit ticket mania? It’s both sad and funny, something you’d expect in a JB book. He Died With A Quilton In His Hand.

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    • Yeah, we are by no means immune up here, either. So my wife needed a prescription, right? We went to Walmart, which I’ve been trying to avoid. They must have restocked in there because every. single. buggy. that. came. out. had. toilet. paper. Not an exaggeration, I waited on her and watched the doors as people came out. And BTW- JB is funny because he’s kidding on the square. I think he’s a keen observer of human behavior and can come up with believable outlandish shit on demand. Like a run on toilet paper. A run on the banks is next.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Funny, I was talking to someone in an RSL club tonight about how our military are being asked to get ready. They were called in to help with relieving logistically during the bushfires, now they’ll be serving domestically again. We joked they like it because the local language is easier as opposed to other places. Snipers hate that they can’t get a bead on the virus.
        Yeah, we get how they (and your mob) do it. Thanks for reminding us.

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