Saturday, February 6, 2010

Mob Mentality, Experienced from the Middle

I've often read about mob mentality and the breakdown of social order. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to experience it firsthand, from somewhere inside the middle of the mob. I saw horrible things that will likely haunt my dreams for several nights to come, and barely emerged from the experience with my life. Yes, that's right, I bravely went grocery shopping at Walmart in preparation for a weekend that will likely be spent snowed-in.

No grocery shopping experience can compare to the adventure one has down south when there is about to be snow. People go absolutely stark raving mad, and forget all about such things as etiquette. Not since the last time I endured a fair have I witnessed so much rudeness and shoving. You'd think that the safety and security of the free world depended on attaining the last loaf of bread!

Walmart, which normally carries just about everything, was marked by a notable absence of food and an over-abundance of people. I was pushed one way and then another as I tried to steer my cart through the insanity without crushing any of the many unattended children. I walked in shock past the empty center displays, which usually hold liter after liter of soda, and large quantities of sugary snacks. The large bin which ordinarily overflows with eggs now only held about six remaining cartons, two of which were missing eggs. I was able to grab one full carton before being shoved away by yet another offensively ill-mannered patron.

From there, I went in search of my favorite low-sugar yogurt, with no luck. The yogurt section was COMPLETELY empty, save for a Michael Jackson calender that someone had apparently changed his or her mind about, and had lazily stuffed into the refrigerated section. Two lone cartons of orange juice huddled together further down, apparently hoping to find safety in numbers. The cheese section looked as if it had been attacked by an angry horde of machete-wielding guerrillas - loose cheese was everywhere, and a non-abused package was hard to locate. Fortunately, I am evidently the only person in the area who uses fat-free cheddar in her cooking, as that row of packages had managed to survive the Great Cheese Slaughter of 2010.

The cereal aisle had fared little better than the cheese section. The afore-mentioned hostile machete-wielding guerrillas had been there, too. Loose cereal littered the aisle, as did what I first assumed to be blood, but then discovered was red juice. Once again, my healthy taste in food was lucky for me - all of the bran flakes had survived unscathed. I bypassed the tribal warfare taking place in the cookie aisle (a few people were having a heated argument over ownership of the last box of a particular brand of cookie), and proceeded to the canned vegetables, which I then wisely decided to also bypass, after witnessing further "war crimes" taking place. I hastily grabbed as many undamaged fruits and vegetables as I could locate in the rapidly diminishing produce section, rescued some whole-wheat double fiber english muffins, and then planned my exit strategy.

Of the forty checkout lanes, naturally, less than half were open (why Walmart has so many checkout lanes just to keep most of them closed is beyond me). The lines were stretched all the way into the clothing section. My cart and I huddled between two racks of blouses and waited exhaustedly for the line to move forward. Finally, I absconded from Walmart, shuddering as I saw the further mass of people heading into the building. As I sank into the comforting embrace of my car, I felt not unlike a POW escaping from Stalag 17.

Overall, my experience at Walmart was eerily similar to witnessing firsthand the German treatment of Poland during the Second World War (the customers were the Germans, and the hapless groceries were the Poles). I'm sure to my northern readers this account may seem fictitious, but believe me, things get crazy down here in Virginia whenever snow lurks on the horizon. I'm glad that I braved the mob, however, as I now am sufficiently stocked to last through the anticipated two feet of snow that we're supposed to get this weekend.

1 comment:

Erin said...

being fully aware of this type of thing on the brink, I went to Walmart on Friday morning at about 7:30. Call me crazy, but at least it wasn't so full of people and empty of food yet. I knew if I waited too long I might be dead before I got out of there.

It is just straight up crazy down here when it snows. Its like Y2K and all the crazies all over again. I'm sure people have generators stashed in their homes in preparation for snow.

"Passage—immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins! Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?

Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!"

~Walt Whitman, "Passage to India"