My Stumble Town Wife

My wife came home from her daily grocery outing this morning and uttered a bewilderment as she leaned on her shoulder in the frame of the back door to the house before bundling into the kitchen. She said that to complete her shopping list she had to visit four different grocers. At one the produce shelves were empty, at another the meat shelves were empty, and so on. Not sparse, but empty.

Being the retired hunter in our household, I pretended nonchalance. I could still kill a moose barehanded, if I had to, after all. “Someone should tell Joe Biden,” I quipped.

Stumble Town, by the way, is the actual colloquial name of the old South Norfolk neighborhood where my Goddess of Gathering grew up. You could say the community was poor or backward in some ways (if you wanted to be unkind to good people) but even in Stumble Town 50 years ago an empty grocery shelf would have shocked everyone. There would have been gossip, maybe even a conspiracy theory or two.

My wife and I have sure seen hard times in our life together, but we have never seen any slack in the abundance around us. Until now.

It makes you wonder.

35 thoughts on “My Stumble Town Wife

  1. Never seen “any slack in the abundance around us??” Where were you during the great toilet paper/bleach/hand sanitizer shortage? Have you never been to a grocery store in the area just before a big snow storm? We’re in the middle of a pandemic where a large part of the workforce is sick or dead. Remember the meatpackers back at the beginning of the COVID crisis? Maybe, that’s why there’s a meat shortage. And maybe, when all the worker bees drop dead, the drones will start to see their value?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. We have experienced the shortages you mention, but never NO produce, NO meat. Also, we are not “in the middle of a pandemic,” but at the end of one.

      Something is broken that never was in our lifetimes before.


      1. We are in the middle of the perfect storm. Shortages began when workers began to get sick and countries locked down, trying to stop the spread of the pandemic. Meat supplies began to dwindle when working conditions at the meatpacking plants spiked COVID infections there. Deportation of farm workers contributed to the shortage of produce. Winter storms slowed trucks and trains and planes coming from warmer climates. Combine a weakened supply chain with sick grocery store staff and add the usual snow-frenzy buying and you get NO meat and NO produce on the shelves. It’s not some “thing” that’s broken. It’s a combination of “things.”

        And I hope you are right about being at the end of the pandemic. However, according to your previous sources, it was going to be over “in a couple of months,” so I’m not counting on it. Even if the pandemic were to end today, we still have a seriously crippled workforce. A lot of people, who didn’t die from COVID, will suffer long term effects. Yeah, yeah, yeah, go ahead and say it: “They’ll use it as an excuse to sponge off your tax money for another year.” They couldn’t possibly be that sick from a “hoax.”

        Liked by 4 people

      2. We might be looking at the easing of a surge, but hospitals are still filling up and people are still sick.

        PS: I went grocery shopping this morning. Yes meats were pretty scarce. Produce seemed fine except for a few items. Shipments coming in and the aisles were jammed with dollies and carts with boxes of product for stacking on shelves. HT at Wards Corner and Fresh Market on 21st St.

        I think it was weather related. Plus, people remember the shortages in 2020 and I think that propelled a little more “panic before the storm” buying.

        Liked by 3 people

  2. “It makes you wonder?”

    Okay, that’s you.

    Anybody with any common sense knows that with a major winter storm bearing down on a region ill-prepared to keep the highways clear that EVERYBODY has been out stocking up.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. When the tide is high, it is still the peaks of the wave that come over the seawall first.

      The increasingly common ‘isolated shortages’ are a warning sign that too much government control of markets causes unintended consequences.

      For example, it appeared that the private sector was unable to keep up with demand for fast COVID tests in recent weeks, but now we find out that the Government has been snatching up all of the output to hand them out for free when it will be too late.

      Had the government not been stockpiling tests for the giveaway, you would have been able to buy a test at a reasonable price when you needed it.

      No one meant for that to happen, but when government puts its thumb on the scales, things happen on the other side of the scale too.


      1. … a warning sign that too much government control of markets causes unintended consequences.”…

        A stretch at best. Your beloved market is more of an issue with regards to shortages. Companies are having a difficult time keeping up with demand now that some sense of normalcy has occurred. Between supply chain issues and staffing shortages, all sectors are struggling.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Color me suspicious but I still remember the fake gas shortages of the 70s. The thought that some of these shortages are being caused by price gougers comes to my mind. And as for Walmart being better than the Department of Transportation, Walmart wasn’t able to deliver groceries from their store to my house, which is less than 5 miles away, on time so don’t go getting yer hopes up about Walmart snow plows.

            Liked by 2 people

          2. During Katrina, a horse show judge was in charge of FEMA. When you elect people who think government is bad, you get bad government.

            I’m going to overlook the start of that linked article. It compares COVID to the flu. Let’s just say, the flu has been bad but it has never caused hospitals to have refrigerated trucks lined up outside to store the dead bodies. I’ve had lots of friends who had the flu. I’ve only lost friends to COVID. So, unless you want a string of army-wife vocabulary on your website, don’t try to tell me COVID and the flu are the same thing.

            Also, that article blames laws against price gouging for causing higher prices by claiming as long as prices are low, people will buy and thereby the shortages will continue. THERE WAS NO SHORTAGE! Greedy oil companies cut supply on purpose so they could raise prices. And people weren’t waiting in line for hours to buy gas because they wanted to hoard gas. They waited in line to get gas because their cars were the only way they had to get to work!

            Liked by 2 people

          3. The gas lines in the 70s resulted from an OPEC embargo on shipments to the US and the overreaction to what was a real, but limited shortage. The oil companies were selling every drop they can get, but could not keep up with the hoarding impulse.

            People were only allowed to buy gas on odd or even numbered days matching their license plates. So, on their day, people filled their tanks on every day they were allowed even if they didn’t need to.

            I well remember waiting in line to fill my tank behind people who only needed 2 or 3 gallons to top off.


          4. I’m sure OPEC and the oil companies were bitter enemies and mean ol’ OPEC just pretended to be out of oil so they could make the oil companies look bad. Money had nothing to do with it. On the other hand, OPEC and the oil companies might have been in it together?? And although the benevolent oil companies were selling “every drop they could get,” (HAHAHAHA! Sorry, couldn’t type that with a straight face.) those gas hoarders who had to top off their tanks every other day are the real reason for the shortages.

            Liked by 1 person

          5. Wow How old are you?

            OPEC embargoed the US because we helped Israel defend itself against annihilation.

            They were not out of oil, they were withholding it as a political weapon.

            It was the small independents Like Aztec Oil, and the Elder Bush’s company, that ramped up production to break the embargo.


          6. A lot older than you, young man.

            And you are right, they were not out of oil. But that’s how it got played at the pumps. “The world is running out of oil! Prepare to pay dearly for gasoline!” And the embargo did finally end. But gas prices never went back to $.25 per gallon. (Yes, I’m that old.) And the oil barons, both foreign and domestic, became forever rich.

            Liked by 2 people

          7. I’ll be 73 in three weeks.

            And most of my family worked in the oil patch in those days.

            The oil barons operate on a profit margin no different from other businesses in the same risk profile.

            The profit of the oil producers adds far less to the price of gasoline than the taxes on it.


          8. So, I can still tell you to “respect your elders, young man.”

            Workers in the oil patch and workers in the coal mines always honor the company store. It’s the Stockholm Syndrome before the Stockholm Syndrome was discovered.

            Forgive me if I don’t feel sorry for the poor oil barons (who put their profits into their pockets and get big government subsidies to cover their risks) because they make less than the government takes in taxes. They don’t build roads and bridges and tunnels with their profits. They build mansions and buy yachts… and politicians… with their money.

            Liked by 1 person

          9. Who is it you think these oil barons are?

            The major oil companies are publicly traded and are mostly owned by insurance companies and pension plans, possibly yours.


          10. They are legion but the name Rex Tillerson springs to mind at the moment. His use of aliases, lying to Congress about climate change research, his ties to Putin, all the things a good mafia don needs to do, lead me to believe he’s not one of the good guys. On the other hand, he did call Trump a “moron,” but that only proves he’s smart, not necessarily honest. Enron was only an energy trading company but Ken Lay is an example of a name nobody outside of the oil industry knew… until Enron blew up. Kenny Boy, was a favorite of the Bush oil family. So was Bandar Bush… who George W. managed to hustle out of town after 911, when all other planes were grounded.

            And no, my pension fund does not include any oil companies. What few stocks I own, I bought myself, without a pension fund to rip me off. And don’t even get me started on insurance companies! They make more money than all the oil companies combined. And health insurance companies are the reason Americans pay more for health care than any other country in the world.

            Liked by 1 person

          11. No, not nearly as many people are trying to rip me off as are trying to mooch your tax dollars. They’re just doing it on a much grander scale.


          12. “After Katrina(my wife was there) Walmart was supplying free water and ice a week before FEMA provided effective aid.”

            As you may recall, the failures of FEMA you allude to were widely noted at the time and, that was because, under better leadership, it had performed very well on countless other occasions.

            Liked by 1 person

          13. Yes, really.

            There are no statistics about Walmart’s activities to match your undefined term “respond.”

            If you want to deny the truth of what I said – FEMA’s response to Katrina was notably bad compared to its normally helpful and timely performance. go ahead. Knock yourself out. That’s what Mr. Roberts would do. Why not you too?


      2. “The increasingly common ‘isolated shortages’ are a warning sign that too much government control of markets causes unintended consequences.”


        What part of pandemic do you not understand? There are no “controls” that we have not been living comfortably with for decades.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Really?

          We have been required to prove we have no communicable diseases to fly for decades?

          The private sector has had to compete with government for emergency supplies for decades?


          1. Yes, really.

            What has ANY of that got to do with various empty shelves this week in Hampton Roads?

            Answer: Nothing.

            If you want to always make the government the root of every problem, you should choose your problems more judiciously and back off on the silly hyperbole. Otherwise, you won’t have any credibility when maybe you are on to something. Little boy who cried wolf and all that.

            Liked by 1 person

      3. “Had the government not been stockpiling tests for the giveaway, you would have been able to buy a test at a reasonable price when you needed it.”

        Uh, what may be a “reasonable price” to you or me, is an unaffordable price for a very large percentage of the people around us. If testing is to help stop the pandemic, then the market is NOT the solution.


        1. And there you have it. Proof positive of my point.

          You would rather have everyone unable to get a timely test no matter how much harm was done than have some tiny minority put off by the $20 cost(whichis what it was before the government created shortage.)

          It would never occur to you to gather a group of lie minded people to buy tests for those who truly could not afford them.

          Nope, the heavy hand of government must seize the market to give them away free to everyone.

          BTW, I ordered my “free” tests, not because I couldn’t afford to buy my own but because there is no other way to get them,


          1. “Proof positive of my point.”

            Actually, all that you have proven is how clueless and out-of-touch with reality you are. That hypothetical $20 price for each test is beyond the means of far more than a “tiny minority” and a very significant disincentive to a very big part of the population.


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