Empty shelves

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #88: Domino Effect

The dominos are falling. Where is this all leading? What happens when the dust settles? Thoughts? Examples? Interpretations?


First it was hand sanitizer and wipes. Then toilet paper. Next…paper towels. Then Kleenex. One after another. Disappearing from store shelves. Worried moms…dads…kids…everyone actually…buying what they can…just in case. The unknown is a scary place.

The fear is palpable. The carts full. We are all in uncharted territory. I must believe this will pass…in time. We will someday look back and learn.

Yesterday was likely my last visit to the grocery store for the foreseeable future.

This is what happened:

empty aisle

Do you remember when the Berlin Wall fell?

I was leaning back against the shelves on one side of the paper products aisle. Finishing up taking a few pictures with my phone.

A man – probably in his 50s – had stopped his shopping cart in front of me to talk. His voice was tinged with a faint accent. He wore a camouflage patterned sweatshirt and jeans. Short clipped dark hair. Slightly balding. Medium height. Stocky.

I was trying to document the (almost) entire aisle of empty shelves. Which are usually crammed with assorted packages of toilet paper, facial tissues and paper towels.

Shelves now empty as panicked customers buy out the inventory day after day – sometimes within an hour of being even partially restocked. The virus is coming.

Shoppers quite frequently start random conversations with me in the grocery store. More often than not.

But this seemed more off the beaten track than usual – immediately capturing my attention as I answered…

Um…yes, I do.

Well this reminds me of it.

It does?

It was like this in East Germany.

You mean people buying up supplies when it happened?

No, this is how it always was in East Germany then. Empty shelves. I saw it. That’s communism.

Did you live in East Germany?

No, but I was there when the wall came down.


The two of us paused and looked over at the empty shelves. We were alone in the aisle.

Is it upsetting for you to see this? I asked.

No…but what’s with all the panic about buying toilet paper?

I think people are worried about being quarantined. A friend of a friend of mine bought 120 rolls. For just herself.

That’s BS. All you need is enough for 14 days. But…he glanced at the empty shelves again…what if you ran out…

Well, there’s always napkins. I pointed to the few remaining packages of dinner napkins.

He nods. True.

There’s also no chicken left, I added. Shifting to perhaps a more important priority when stocking up for survival while stuck at home. If, of course, you are fortunate enough to have a home. And enough money to buy food…never mind extra food.

He nodded…No hamburger either! Ridiculous.

Shaking his head, he announced…Well…ya know…I really like guns. And people don’t like that I keep so many extra boxes of ammo stocked in my house. But I don’t care what they think.

Ahh…well we all do what we gotta do I guess.

Yes we do.

He began pushing his cart away to finish shopping.

Have a good day!

You too!

Hand sanitizer. Toilet paper. Paper towels. Tissues. Guns. Ammunition. We all are trying to prepare for an unseen enemy in our own ways.

The Berlin Wall…East Germany…who knew.

no chicken
No Chicken

Stay safe everyone.


21 thoughts on “Empty shelves

  1. The grocery stores in Texas are experiencing the same madness. No one person or family needs 150 rolls of toilet paper, unless their entire extended family lives with them under one roof. Come to think of it, that happens a lot here in the south. I call it panic hoarding. The future is murky at best, at least for a few more weeks until our powers that be and our citizens get a handle on this mess. Everyone seems to forget, this came from China, was manufactured in China and was released by China. The US had nothing to do with this world wide fiasco.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The whole thing is indeed crazy – fear is triggering the panic hoarding (a very appropriate term). Giving people the illusion of control. I just hope the leaders of countries around the world learn how to prevent a pandemic from ever happening again. China included. I do remember that’s where it started – and thought that’s where it would stay.
      Thank you for your comment. Stay safe!


    1. Thank you. Yes I was except for the chicken and the powdered milk I use for making gluten free bread. That seems to be out of stock everywhere around here. Not even available online. However, I will survive 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. WOWWWWW…I think maybe I won’t go up to Safeway….I don’t want to see all the empty shelves/aisles. I’ve been wondering if the people who are piling their carts repeatedly, are charging all this “extra provision” on credit cards…if so, the next crisis will be increased debt, and if people are quarantined and can’t work and collect a paycheck…do you see where I’m going? I decided early on that, in addition to the fact that I have no room for hoarding provisions, I can’t afford more debt–so if there’s anything left to purchase, I can’t be charging items. I wonder when, and how, this craziness will end… Great post, my friend ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. Yes the debt plus the lost wages are going to combine for a lot of pain for many people. I also wonder how this craziness will play out. It’s a whole new world. However! I’m trying to stay positive looking forward. Take care of yourself 🙂


  3. We went through this also. Very scary! I’ll add flour, bread and rice to the list of items being bought up. Things got better yesterday when i went shopping. Most shelves were restocked, but a sign said limit of one per customer. I even found toilet paper. Finally a bit of enforced sanity.


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