Felix Unger: Oscar! Is there a blizzard outside?
Oscar Madison: [peering through the curtains] I can’t tell; it’s all white.
—The Odd Couple, “Natural Childbirth” (9/17/71)
Ordinarily I don’t much care about what people think of me, however:
I’m sitting in my home, putting together my shopping list. And, of course, I have some of the usual staples on it: milk, bread and so on. And I head on down to the supermarket. On the way, I turn on the radio. As it happens, it’s the top of the hour and they’re spouting off with the news headlines and such, which is fine until they get to the weather report.
“We’re looking at some sleet this evening, turning into snow, should be about four to six inches by morning.”
Snow doesn’t bug me all that much; my car is pretty good in the stuff. Snow days I can do without, since I don’t get them anymore and all they do is force me to re-schedule visits to schools. But the one thing I can’t abide is the Panicky Shopper when the snow is coming.
Hey, I’m from New York and I get it: it snows, you may get stuck in the house for a couple of days, but that’s really about it. A couple of days. If you’re in there for longer than that, whether you’ve got enough Wonder Bread is probably among the least of your worries. After a couple of days it’s mostly about staying alive not because the food’s running out, but because you’re about to kill each other from the cabin fever.
So there I am, on the way to the supermarket because it’s what I’d planned to do on that day, and now I’m going to be confronting the people who have to buy up all the bread, the milk, and the toilet paper. Essentially, they’re buying up anything that’s white, perhaps in honor of the white stuff coming down. I’ll have to look next time: is there also a run on potatoes? on sour cream? vanilla pudding? cauliflower? marshmallow? angel food cake?
The worst part, however, is that even though I’m in the store because I’m just plain out of stuff, now I’m lumped among the panicky idiots who are buying bread because sometime in the next couple of days, it may be snowing and I guess they’re going to be making a LOT of toast over the next 48 hours or so.
It’s a perception thing, I know, but it makes me crazy.