Quick, Buy More Toilet Paper!

by Kassandra Lamb

Recently a good part of the country experienced the blizzard of 2016. And now it’s snowing again up north.

Montgomery Co. MD, not far from where we once lived (photo by heado, CC-BY-SA 4.0 International, Wikimedia Commons)

Blizzard of 2016 aftermath, Montgomery Co. MD, not far from where we once lived (photo by heado, CC-BY-SA 4.0 International, Wikimedia Commons)

During the blizzard my native Maryland got about two feet of the white stuff dumped on them. That’s a lot of snow for a state that is technically below the Mason-Dixon line.

But is it really reason to panic?

When did we become such a crisis-oriented society? Oh, yeah, it’s when the media got a foothold…

I’m five feet, four inches tall (I used to be five-six, but hey, old age happens). Yes, two feet is a lot of snow, but it still only comes up to just above my knees. With a little effort, I can walk in it without snowshoes. And with some shoveling and the wonders of modern all-wheel drive, I can drive in it.

When I lived in Maryland, I used to marvel at the run on stores for milk, bread and toilet paper before a snowstorm. I got the milk and bread part, but honestly people, how much time do you plan to spend in the bathroom during the two to three-day period it takes for the snow plows to dig you out? I would think that the 4 to 6 rolls that most households have on hand would suffice.

Have we become such a namby-pamby society that the possibility of running low on toilet paper has us running to the stores? Come on, we’ve got tissues and paper towels and houseplant leaves to supplement before we truly should get desperate.

My point here is that we have been conditioned by the media to go into crisis mode over things that previous generations considered everyday challenges.

Here ya go! Car snowed in; break out the skis. (NW Washington, DC photo by Alejandro Alvarez CC-BY-SA 4.0 International, Wikimedia Commons)

Here ya go! Car snowed in; break out the skis. (NW Washington, DC photo by Alejandro Alvarez CC-BY-SA 4.0 International, Wikimedia Commons)

Funny story. Thursday was grocery shopping day for me when we lived in Maryland, and one week, there was a snowstorm predicted for Friday. I braved the store anyway, and actually we were a little low on TP, so I headed for that aisle.

When I got there, a dozen or so people were staring at bare shelves, with bewildered and anxious expressions on their faces. Surely the store hadn’t sold out of the golden sheets this early in the panic!

Then a store employee walked past. “Hey, didn’t you all see the big display up front. We moved it up by the door.” No, apparently most of us were busily checking our lists or something, not expecting our local grocer to be quite that blatantly mercenary.

I pushed my cart up front and nabbed a precious 4-pack, then went home and reassured my houseplants that their leaves were safe, for now.

We’ve since retired to Florida, but we’re not immune to the hysteria mongering down here. Oh Lordy, there’s a tropical storm headed for the coast. Everybody panic! No, just put away your porch furniture, and to be on the safe side, your grill, because it’s gonna be kind of windy for the next day or two.

In the media’s search for the next big story, they’ve turned this country into the land of fear!

Despite what you see on the evening news, the world is not coming to an end, and you probably don’t need to buy more toilet paper. But you might want to water your houseplants, just in case.

photo by Luis Fernández García CC-BY-SA 3.0 Wikimedia Commons

photo by Luis Fernández García CC-BY-SA 3.0 Wikimedia Commons

What about you? What has the media made you unduly afraid of in recent times?

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington mystery series, set in her native Maryland, and a new series, the Marcia Banks and Buddy mysteries, set in Central Florida.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

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  • Reply
    shannon esposito
    February 16, 2016 at 9:30 am

    Out of respect for my broken nervous system, I try to steer clear of the news. You’re right, it’s all fear mongering. I think having access to ALL the crazy things that go on in the world ALL the time is really making us neurotic. Or is that just me? 🙂

    • Reply
      Kassandra Lamb
      February 16, 2016 at 4:03 pm

      No, I don’t think it’s just you, Shannon. And having access to all that is REALLY going on would be bad enough, but then the news media exaggerates most of it to make it more sensational. Feel free to hide in you cocoon. It’s probably the safest place to be. 😀

  • Reply
    K.B. Owen
    February 16, 2016 at 4:31 pm

    For me the preparations had a sense of urgency, not panic. Two feet for this area is a BIG DEAL. Our infrastructure (metro DC) is simply not equipped to handle it. Because of our preparations (we had to plan for power outages and possible water outage), we could hunker down in place with our Doritos and wine (and books!) and feel relaxed about the pretty snow. It took two days to dig ourselves out, though. It was a crap-ton of snow, and we didn’t want to be heart attack statistics. The experts were saying that shoveling 15 minutes in the cold was the equivalent of bicycling 5 miles. Don’t know if that’s true, but I certainly got a work out!

    I loved how our neighborhood turned into a block party, too. Everyone came together. Music was blared, snacks were shared, and we had lots of laughs.

    And when I finally did get out (had to take hubs to the airport, lucky guy – the weather in Denver was in the 50s!), God bless those Starbucks baristas, putting out the extra effort of getting their store up and running. Needed some major caffeine by then. 😉

    • Reply
      Kassandra Lamb
      February 16, 2016 at 11:18 pm

      Okay, that is the way to rock a snowstorm!! (And yes, urgency is appropriate, rather than panic.) Good to that you got a few good workouts out of the deal. 😉

      • Reply
        K.B. Owen
        February 17, 2016 at 11:55 am

        I had to make up for all the snack food. 😉

  • Reply
    Vinnie Hansen
    February 17, 2016 at 4:47 pm

    Don’t get me start on weather reporting. It’s cheap, lazy “journalism,” a time-filler masquerading as “news.” What should be a dinky portion of a nightly report expands to fill ten minutes. All with nary a mention of what should actually concern us–climate change!

    The news doesn’t scare me. It outrages me. Television is rubbed thin, biases showing. Newspaper articles are poorly written. Was it just yesterday that the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle was pasted up incorrectly?

    Off to take a deep, cleansing breath.

    • Reply
      Kassandra Lamb
      February 21, 2016 at 12:43 pm

      Good points, Vinnie. It is lazy journalism. As my brother likes to say, “The media is the menace.”

    • Reply
      K.B. Owen
      February 21, 2016 at 8:26 pm

      When we have sites like Huffington Post who don’t even pay their writers, journalism is turning more and more amateurish. 🙁

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