One of the things I’ve loved about Lawton and Southwest Oklahoma is the way people always rise up in the time of need, however, after my first visit to a large local retail outlet, I’m totally shocked. It’s become like everybody’s on their own.
I wasn’t looking for the hottest item on the planet — toilet paper — but I was hoping to pick up a few essentials like eggs, milk, my beloved D. Pepper, cereal, sugar and a few other items.
I drove over by the paper products to find dish washing soap and couldn’t believe the empty shelves. Not even a busted bag of paper towels or toilet paper was left for the buzzards.
Surprisingly there was plenty of soda pop, a few cartons of eggs and plenty of milk and alcoholic beverages.
From there it was a mixed bag of surprises, some that left my head — complete with my N95 mask to protect the old heart — shaking in disbelief.
I did find plenty of candy and the all-important M&Ms that keep wife Brigitte going during tax time. I also found a few bags of Lemon Oreos that we don’t need but love.
Right around the corner was the biggest shock of all, the cereal row with just a few boxes of something called Peeps cereal. That’s it, that aisle that is always packed with thousands of boxes of probably 60 to 75 different cereals was empty except for the Peeps.
You would have thought with Easter approaching those boxes would have been gone as well but that wasn’t the case.
That wasn’t as shocking as the fact there wasn’t any sugar in the place, just some Splenda or something along those lines.
Of course, I expected meat to be in short supply and that was indeed the case. Those sprawling coolers that are normally packed with poultry, pork, sausage and the like were empty, totally empty.
There were some fish and shrimp items left but heck, this is beef country, so we expected that to be the case.
So, when you can’t find those things, you look for alternatives and it’s obviously most people are forgetting the deserts and ice cream because as I turned that corner my smile perked up.
With that being the case, I crammed homestyle vanilla ice cream into my cart along with a deep dish apple pie, forgoing the diet for a few days.
I also found out that Jimmy Dean must have not been as good a singer as some folks liked because there was a pretty good supply of his sausage and bacon, egg and cheese biscuits.
That’s good because my biscuit-making career was put on hold the other night when my son Russell thought those I worked so hard on had a wang to them. Guess he doesn’t like buttermilk.
Fortunately, our Siberian Husky Queen Sheba loved them and they didn’t all go to waste.
After leaving the coolers I went around to the produce area and that’s when it became evident; people aren’t eating as healthy as they should. There was plenty of just about everything: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, lettuce, carrots ...
And there were plenty of 5-pound bags of potatoes.
When I had completed the rounds, I rolled to the checkout stand and found a very tired-looking young lady who was obviously about to crash.
She said the employees have been working almost around the clock trying to stock items but people keep buying up everything they put out, even with the limits on those hot-button items like toilet paper, antiseptic wipes and hand sanitizer.
Yes, we probably have another few weeks of this isolation but please give these store workers a little time to restock the shelves. I was told by the checker that some people come early every day to buy a couple of packs of toilet paper, that is when the store has any to sale.
A day after that shopping experience, I had to give it another go to find a few more items we needed; however, this time I opted for an employee-owned food chain store in west Lawton.
I was delighted to find sugar, cheese, smoked sausage and hamburger readily available. I took a couple of packages of hamburger, trying to be a team player.
And, I was happy to find a good assortment of cereal, although my favorite, Raisin Bran Crunch, was not among them. So I opted to the old childhood favorite Cheerios to have in case we needed a quick breakfast.
It’s obvious all stores are facing the dilemma of getting supplies back on the shelves but there are ways you can help. How about using the local restaurants that are having curb-side service, or the drive-ins? There are a couple of delivery services as well and while those do cost a bit more, there are discounts available during this time of crisis.
Those businesses are important to Lawton and by ordering a meal even every second or third day, you can help them keep their employees on the payroll.
Do that and let these poor grocery store stockers get the shelves loaded again. In many cases they have the product, it just takes time to get it on the floor.
Remember, we’re all in this together; nobody is immune from the results of this worldwide pandemic and in times like this please think of your older neighbors, our medical workers, first responders and right now the store workers who are trying to get us through the next couple of weeks.
Now I can at least have some sweetened tea because I was a bit worried that Equal from the diet of 2000 probably wasn’t going to be very good.