Remember at the start of the pandemic, when people were panic buying toilet paper like there was no tomorrow? While most people laughed at it – it was pretty silly, after all – it wasn’t hard to understand the motivations behind it. It was a time of great uncertainty and fear, and while toilet paper specifically was a weird thing to fixate on, stocking up was something tangible people could do to help them feel some measure of control when they were genuinely worried there might not be a tomorrow.
Now that we’ve grown used to living in a pandemic, however, we seem to have moved on.
Sadly, not always in a good way.
I recently ran into a friend from work who’s based at a different location than I am, and he told me about a customer who bought six Christmas trees. Someone had commented that she much have a big house, to which she replied, “No, I think there’s going to be a Christmas tree shortage, so I’m stocking up.”
Relaying the story to another work friend, who’s at yet another location, he said someone tried to buy all of their Christmas lights. She wasn’t allowed to, instead being restricted to half-a-dozen boxes worth. She complained, insisting they were “for her house.”
Like the customer with the Christmas trees, that’d be one helluva house.
It’s clear both these customers were making their purchases with the intention of reselling them for a profit. This is, of course, not a new thing. People have been profiting off of crises for forever, happily indulging in questionable (or worse) behaviour in order to make a quick buck. There’s always someone hoarding with the intent to gouge, and if I believed in hell, I’d say there’s a special circle of it reserved for those who do it with things like food and medical supplies.
But the ones who are snapping up Christmas decorations? There’s a much more pathetic air about them. It’s like they stopped watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas halfway through and took away completely the wrong message as a result.
Considering how futile the early pandemic panic buying was, it makes me wonder how they haven’t learned their lesson. And also how much toilet paper they have left.
However much, it’ll never be enough to wipe their dirty conscience clean.