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The Toilet Paper Panic

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The times are unpredictable, the outcomes serious, and I don’t understand why we have a toilet paper panic.  I was at Target this morning to buy a shower mat, and the toilet paper shelves were emptying out. If you are panic-buying to be self-sufficient for two weeks at home, why is carting the 36-roll pack of toilet paper reassuring?  Even if you exhausted toilet paper, there are napkins, paper towels, Kleenex, wash cloths.  The Sears catalog probably isn’t hanging around your stack of old mail, but if the Sears catalog was good enough back in the day, maybe one could use the Harry and David mailer, or the Medicare rules from the health care provider.

Conversations I overhear miss the point; young people shrug off “so what if I get it.”  It is the herd mentality we need – I will minimize my risk so I can minimize your risk. The risk, we know, increases dramatically with age.  Congress should be figuring out how to remote in for their work, since the Capitol practically qualifies for assisted living status, and the presidential candidates (advanced ages, all) need to avoid public contact.  Seriously.

The detached, nerdy part of me is watching how this pandemic plays out in comparison to the probable future events we learned about in healthcare management classes.  It’s a dilemma, the real world is like a dystopian novel; my reading and viewing tastes have definitely shifted to Hallmark fare or Disney movies.  I understand my parents better, who operated in a “let’s not talk about that” mode of denial.  I used to describe that as “let’s not talk about anything interesting,” but maybe as one ages the propensity for outrage diminishes, like reading small print. 

Grocery stores and other stores can no longer give you plastic bags in this state.  This change makes me aware how often we used plastic bags for a couple items; unnecessary, of course.  Maybe there will be a similar realization as corporate conferences and large meetings are cancelled.  A return to simple living has its advantages.

There are additional advantages if common-sense infection prevention sticks.  Think of the community-wide benefit if people stayed home when sick, no matter what the infectious agent.  It might even have conservatives pondering the benefits of universal health care (everybody could get vaccinations and go to a doctor) and paid sick time.

As for me, I’m welcoming a change to appropriate social distancing.  Just last night, I told a complete stranger I couldn’t hug her, as she started for a hug instead of a handshake.  We Midwestern Scandinavians know the proper social distance is six feet, and the raised index finger or head nod is as good as a handshake.

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