Hoarding? Or planning ahead

Even though I work in retail, like many I was caught a bit flat-footed when the panic buying hit this Spring.  For several weeks it was touch and go whether or not my wife and I were going to have adequate supplies of our preferred paper products in the house.  Not to mention what became ‘big-ticket’ items like hand sanitizer and hand soap.

Since then, things have gotten a bit better in terms of supplies being in the stores on a more anticipated basis, though paper towels are invariably in short supply as well as limited in variety no matter where you go. 

This week there have been rumblings about a ‘second wave’ of rationing because of the uptick of COVID cases in this area as well as elsewhere.   On our most recent shopping trip, I, being the retail veteran, noticed the signs that have reappeared on certain items in the store, warning shoppers that they’re limited to 1 or 2 of paper towels, toilet paper, peanut butter and other things that have up to now been somewhat plentiful enough to allow almost unlimited buying.

As for myself, in the past couple of months I’ve been upping our supply of paper products as well as other long-term shelf stable items in case of unexpected shortages.  Now some might see that as ‘hoarding’ but I wasn’t buying toilet paper or paper towels 4 and 5 multi-packs at a time.  Nor have I been cleaning out the canned good section regularly.   If anything, it could be said that I’ve been engaging in limited purchases to bolster our bottom line, and permit our neighbors to do the same, all the while not spending any more than we can afford, in order to better survive what’s coming in the next several months. 

Obviously we’re not ogres here.  If a neighbor happened to come to the door and say they needed to ‘borrow’ something we had in abundance, we’d share.   But even so, we’re in a position where it makes sense to plan ahead, and have adequate supplies to get us through if we can, without breaking the bank in the process. 

I actually thought about getting a chest freezer and filling it, but in that retrospect, we’d end up probably not using it correctly and it would become something that would cost more than it was worth.  We eat out enough (take-out) that I’m not exclusively cooking from home, and don’t require large amounts of frozen meat, vegetables and so on.  The small freezer above the refrigerator has been good enough for the past 20 years, it should be enough going forward.  Unless I take a couple of cooking classes and suddenly decide to buy a half a cow that needs to be stored for the long term.  But I don’t see that occurring.

Suffice it to say, I feel better prepared for the next couple of months than I did back in March and April.  And that’s saying something.

Stay the eff home, please?

By now, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re aware of the COVID-19/Coronavirus pandemic that’s got the planet in a tizzy.  And when I say tizzy, I mean full-blown panic.  Even while all of this is going on, my job is considered to be ‘essential’ so I’m still going to work every day.  Though, while I’m doing my part to keep the wheels turning and people fed, I still see things that bother me, and many of my co-workers as well.

In retail, one sees many of the same people day in and day out.  Regulars, are what we call them.  You can almost set your clock by the time they arrive, what days and so on.  Some show up every single day, stay for almost the same amount of time, and then you see them the following day.  It seems like nothing is ever going to change their routine.  And in this time of uncertainty, when people are being warned to ‘stay home’, that hasn’t changed their routine one iota.

Every morning, ‘Acadia Lady‘ comes in right around the time I’m starting my shift.  Sometimes I see her in the parking lot on her way out of the store as I’m walking in, but rest assured, within about one to two hours, she’s back in the store, hunched over her cart and tooling around, picking up a few odds and ends that she missed the first time around.

Around about the same time, I see ‘The Shuffler’.  A gentleman of about sixty or so (might be less, a little difficult to tell) who shuffles his right foot as he walks, and goes through the store looking for bargains.  He generally comes in around 8 am, and then in the afternoon he’s back, again seeking out any bargains or reduced merchandise.  I understand money is tight, and a lot of people shop primarily the reduced merchandise in the store.  I don’t have any problem with that (unless they bring me items expecting me to further reduce them, that annoys me to no end) but when I’m required to be in the store, they don’t have to be coming in so often.  There’s a health emergency on.  The governor of the state has instituted a stay at home order.  Is there any logical reason why it’s completely necessary to ignore it?

We’ve already gotten two separate reports in recent weeks that people have come into the store while having symptoms of the virus.  As a matter of fact, on 3/26 one of them went to their doctor, got the test, was determined to be positive and ignoring the directive to ‘go directly home‘ instead on the way home stopped at my store and did some shopping, because they determined they didn’t have enough food and supplies for a two-week stay.  In their mind, apparently it was better to possibly infect anyone they met, just to satisfy their need for snack foods and toilet paper.  Nice move.

And of course there’s more.  The families that come in and shop all clumped together.  Mom, Dad, and the kids.  The directive from the governor says that only ONE person from each family is supposed to be in the store, as little as possible.  Preferably doing the shopping for the week, not every day, or every other day.  Or the elderly husband and wife that have to come in, both of them take a motorized handicap cart, and motor around the store for an hour or more, denying their neighbors use of one, while they get maybe five items between them.  Unreal.  It’s little wonder we get so many complaints that we don’t have enough of them.  Certainly my store has four, which is two more than any of the other stores around us have.

Bottom line, for my sake, for my co-workers’ sake, since you don’t have to be at my store every effing day.  Stay home!

End of rant.

Speedy Delivery

Last night, my wife was having some issues with her gaming laptop.  The one she bought when she needed a new portable computer and decided to get this fancy-schmancy one that can be used for gaming (or hacking mainframes I fervently believe) and is a behemoth.

For whatever reason, it was dragging in terms of doing what she needed for it to do online and she asked me if it was on the fastest connection we had.  I told her, no, it’s not.  For one thing, it’s on WI-FI through the house network, so it’s only able to go as fast as the wireless connection allows.  If it were connected via hardwire to the router, it would be able to utilize the faster connection the wire provides.  After checking the wireless connection I confirmed she was using the 2.4 GHz connection (Odin) instead of the 5 GHz connection (Loki) through the D-Link router.

She asked if I had the password to the faster connection.  Of course, the answer is yes, but I don’t have the password memorized.  I change the password every six months, so I can’t remember it each time, I don’t have that memory capacity, and have no desire to memorize thirteen character alpha-numeric plus special character passwords ad nauseam.  I have a password program that does the work for me.  I’ve been using it for ten plus years and it’s been working just fine for the jobs that I ask of it.  Too, I can access it from anywhere through my smartphone, so that makes it useful out in the world, whether I’m near or far from home.  So again, the answer was yes.  I just had to go get it.

Once I accessed the password and put it in, something rather odd happened.  The connection was faster than I expected it to be.  I checked the throughput of the SSID, and it was telling me the connection speed was 868.9 Mbps.  That wasn’t right.  I only say this because I’ve been paying for a 100 Mbps connection for the last four years, and while there’s an option through my provider for a 1 Gbps connection, that option is $15 more per month.

Being the curious sort, I went to my desktop computer that’s wired to the router and checked the speed there.  Sure enough, it was reading 1 Gbps.  Odd.  I checked the speed through an online speedtest and got the same result that I normally get, that the speed is somewhere between 75 and 90 Mbps.  Which makes me even more confuzzled, since that’s what I’ve been paying for.  I’m thinking there’s some sort of problem on my end, as I figure the ISP is correct, or else I would have gotten a bump up in my bill.  I highly doubt with the current world situation they would bump up everyone’s speed and put more stress on the system.  If anything it would be the reverse, they’d slow down everyone because so many more people are logging on at this time, with only certain people’s back at work physically and so many more are telecommuting from home.  Or outright not working and spending time streaming movies, or other things online to pass the time while we all wait for either a cure or the coronavirus to pass on.

Either way, it’s something new to keep an eye on.