On Hoarding

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.

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