This was the scene in the bread aisle at Trader Joe’s on Metropolitan in Forest Hills last night. I overheard a father say to his four-year-old son, wriggling with excitement at the late night grocery trip and the tense, expectant, somehow celebratory atmosphere, something like “This is an American tradition. When there’s a disaster, we go to the stores and just absolutely destroy them…Your mother’s angry at me for saying that.”
I went to SS Natural a couple of blocks over after Trader Joe’s, and there wasn’t any of the nice Tom Cat bread I like but there was plenty of sliced stuff, and in general the place looked far less Mad Max. I puzzled about this in the back of my mind all day: were the young married quasi-hipsters who frequented Trader Joe’s more prone to hording than the wealthy Ukranian matrons who shop at the Natural (a somewhat pricey non-chain place, on Austin Street, very good produce, run I believe by Uighurs)?
And then I realized the difference. Trader Joe’s has a parking lot: indeed, I had taken the car to shop for one of the only times since last year. And parking lots encourage hoarding. No cars, no hoarding; at least not on the same scale. You can’t lay in a real Y2K style supply of peanut butter and bottled water using only a granny cart for transportation. Or at least if you do, it is a longer-term project.