Sunday, August 11, 2019

The last run

(I've been trying to finish this for days, but the gun nonsense has kept me busy elsewhere. If we can get the Leftists to stop "ululating against gun violence" (a great turn of phrase) so my blood pressure will stop boiling, I'm going to get this done,)

It's a tenant of the prepper faith that a list minute run to the bank, grocery store or other place likely to be overwhelmed with desperate people in the event of Bad Things Happening is a Very Bad Idea. We've seen enough pictures of looted of stores after various natural disasters that, coupled with other stories about the behavior of the populace in general after such occurrences, we have put 2 + 2 together and reached the answer 4.

But...

Let's consider that the situation is somehow different. Perhaps some supernatural agency gives you an hour advance notice. Maybe your Spidey-sense tips you off. Or you've heard about the Bad Thing Happening, but the panic hasn't yet occurred in your area. You decide that you're going to cautiously try that warned-against last run. Where are you going, how do you do it and what do you load into your shopping cart? For the purposes of this, also assume that you have to go alone.

I'm going to the grocery store. My reasoning is simple-you can never have enough food. I wouldn't care if I had 10 years worth, I'd still want more. I can make do without a lot of things, but I've never figured out how to make do without food.

I have a particular store in mind. It's in a small strip shopping center that has no other store that should draw a crowd for this sort of trip. It's a smaller store, and the clientele is such that, even if word gets out while I'm there, it hopefully won't get slammed quickly. This has to do with both the age and economic makeup of the customer base.

Distance wise, I'm pretty much equidistant from all grocery stores where I'd consider attempting this. This one does have the drawbacks of the above-mentioned neighborhood plus having to cross over an Interstate and pass a gas station and the county prison to make the trip. Nothing's perfect. Driving time is around 12 minutes each way.

Another good thing about this store is the ability to reconnoiter the place from a short but significant distance. So let's say I've arrived and things look pretty much normal-word has still not gotten out. In we go, parking away from the doors and in the open. Back in or pull through, but don't get stuck having to back out of a parking space.

Grab a buggy. While I'd happily fill as many buggies as I could, managing one, managing your mental list plus trying to keep an eye on things will pretty much take up all of your mental bandwidth.

So what are we buying? I'm after stuff that cooks easily, to save fuel. I'm filling up holes that I know I have and adding to what I already keep. I know the layout of the store pretty well, so I'm starting at the right and working my way left across the store. My task is simplified by avoiding anything that needs refrigerated or has to stay frozen.

First stop is the salad dressing/condiment aisle. I'm grabbing mustard, ketchup, Texas Pete, worcestershire  and Tabasco sauce. Your menu is going to be limited in variety, and these things help keep things interesting. I'll get 2-3 of each, probably in larger sizes.

Next up is the canned meats/canned chili/canned beef stew and so on. I'm going to load up a good bit here. We normally don't keep much of this because Mrs. Freeholder doesn't care for it, but this time I don't care. If it's still in the flats, I'm getting a flat of Spam, canned chunk chicken, chili, beef stew, corned beef hash, potted meat and vienna sausages. Otherwise I'll have to get individual cans and stack them in the cart.

Following this is the soup aisle. I'm grabbing chicken noodle, tomato, potato and crème of celery/mushroom. Again, a flat of each or the equivalent.

Next, vegetables and fruits. Flats of green beans, pinto beans, corn and vegetable medley. As many peaches as I can cram into the kid seat. Maybe some pears.

At this point, the buggy is getting heavy. I have three more aisles to hit.

The health and beauty aisle. Acetometiphen and ibuprophen, both in tablet/gel caps and kids' liquids. Allergy meds, especially diphenhydramine and fexofenadine. Gauze pads and rolled gauze plus antibiotic ointment. This stuff is small and will go in the cracks in the buggy.

Next is the baking aisle. All-purpose flour, sugar, vegetable oil, corn meal and dry milk get piled onto those flats. Salt, pepper and a few useful spices as well.

All the while the cart is getting heavy and you've trying to keep your head on a swivel. If your phone dings you look to see if it's breaking news telling you it's time to hit the checkout. Nothing yet, so on to the last aisle.

Cat food in bags. Canned if there is any room left. Maybe some cat litter, but we're usually well stocked on that, and it's big and heavy anyway.

Crap, I need bottled bleach. The kind with no smells added. The stuff only  keeps 6 months at best, and we don't use it with a septic system. And this buggy is getting seriously unwieldy,

Time to hit the checkout. Here is where buying things by flats comes in handy-it's easy to get it out and back in the buggy quickly. If you couldn't buy flats, then this may take long enough that Things Start To Happen. I'll bail if anything untoward gets started. Ignoring the looks of other shoppers and the hired help, I just want to get it and git.

Now, it's out to the parking lot. I'm armed, but I may not be as heavily armed as I might like. Chances are the supernatural notification came when I wasn't at home. Eyes open to be sure that the word hasn't leaked to the general populace.  Since I drive a pickup, drop the tailgate, slide it all in as quickly as possible and go.

Hopefully the 12 minute drive home is uneventful, but that's asking a lot. By this point, I'm bound to be out of that hour of advanced warning. I have to go through one not great neighborhood, past the county prison, cross the bridge over the Interstate and get past a gas station. No, I'm not stopping for gas, no matter what. Or anything else for that matter.

At home, it's going to be getting all that into the house without the neighbors seeing. I like my neighbors, but I can't feed them and I'd rather not wind up shooting them.

Sound relatively easy, doesn't it? In the real world, even with advance notice, it wouldn't be. This is why we have the prepping advice to avoid such places when things go pear-shaped. Still, it's a fun mental exercise.

If it were up to me, our house would probably look like a WWII submarine, loaded to the brim with food, fuel and weapons. You'd have to turn sideways to get down the hall to the bedrooms. But the real world isn't going to let 99.99999% of the people do such things. We have to make constant decisions about how much of this or that we can afford and store. Mrs. Freeholder is a tolerant sort, but she won't allow me to replace the sofa with a sofa-shaped stack of Mountain House with a nice quilt over it.

This is why we have had and will always have the temptation to make one last run to the grocery store. And it is and will be a bad idea.

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