The ongoing coronavirus freakout/pants-shitting has inexplicably encompassed water and toilet paper. Excerpt:
OK, I can understand face masks and hand sanitisers walking off the shelves, as these are the crucial tools in containing the spread of the pandemic. Most face masks – as with so many other products in our shops – are made in China and in the current crisis conditions any new and additional supplies won’t make it out of the country, so whatever is already here is it. And it isn’t, as masks have been the first item to disappear from retail outlets from your local pharmacy to a Bunnings store.
I can also understand the non-perishable food supplies. Even though Australia could be quite self-sufficient if need be (minus the out of season imported fruit and veg), possibly people are stocking up not so much in fear the food will run out but out of reluctance to go out in the public in a few weeks’ time should the situation really turn into a zombie apocalypse. In any case, there is nothing wrong with having a well stocked pantry.
Where I start to no longer understand the consumers is bottled water. We are fortunate to live in a developed country where one can safely drink from a tap. There won’t be shortages of drinkable water under any circumstances – except for a complete societal collapse – and coronavirus is not a water-borne pathogen like those causing cholera or typhoid. If you are still paranoid, you can boil your water before ingesting (just make sure you cool it down).
Look, there are reasonable precautions, and there are unreasonable precautions, then there are ridiculous paranoias. The hoarding of bottled water and toilet paper is somewhere between the latter two of these, leaning sharply towards “paranoia.”
This is a virus, not a hurricane or earthquake. The power and water are going to stay on. Stores will be restocked. It’s just freaking idiotic to think that you won’t be able to get toilet paper a month from now. A week from now may be problematic – but only because of precisely this kind of paranoid stupidity from the idiots who are stocking up with entire cartloads of bottled water and toilet paper.
The linked article includes this gem:
Personally, of course, what I find the most ironic about the current situation are the memories it brings back of growing up in communist Poland, when in the early to mid-1980s you really had to queue up for toilet paper (or “srajtasma” as it was colloquially known – a shit tape), mostly unsuccessfully, because of the endemic shortages, unless you “knew people”, which my father fortunately did and so we never lacked in the basic sandpaper-grade, deep grey-shaded, uneven shaped rolls that in truth looked like slightly wider (and depressing) versions of party streamers. The fact that the socialist government couldn’t even provide the workers in their paradise with something as basic as toilet paper has since then become both a historical joke as well as a serious emblem of the failings of planned economy where, as the saying goes, everything is planned except for the economy, as this nostalgia-inducing archival news story from 1984 (!) reports:
For once President Reagan was not blamed by communist authorities for the latest woe facing Poles — an official shortage of toilet paper.
Poles have been promised an extra roll this year to meet demand.
Yes, socialists and communists always fuck up supply. But we aren’t (yet) a socialist country. Stocks will be replenished, and probably pretty quickly. Relax, folks. Have a drink (something that will calm you down; not necessarily water.) Calm down. This too shall pass.