By Suzanne Sparrow Watson
Well, by now I’m assuming everyone has not only heard about the food shortages and supply line problems but has experienced them first-hand. We’ve seen empty shelves since the pandemic started, but I sensed it was easing a bit until a few weeks ago. Now, once again, going to the grocery store has all the certainty of placing a bet on the crap table. Pundits on TV have blamed the war in Ukraine, but it seems to have started long before that. This morning when I perused the pasta aisle I was met with a lot of blank space. I grabbed the last bag of sweet potato fries and cinnamon graham crackers from their respective shelves. I secretly applauded myself as if I had won the lottery. But still, I haven’t been able to get the sugar-free wafer cookies that my husband loves in almost a year. I think they are imported from Canada so I’m sure there is a customs problem at the border. Too bad they don’t come from Mexico so they could sail right through.
In any event, the other item that has been very hit and I miss are Lay’s Baked potato chips. They are the brand that my husband’s cardiologist recommends (well, to the extent he recommends potato chips at all) but they have been impossible to find. Obviously, I scour the shelves at our local Safeway once or twice a week, but I’ve been skunked at all of the other local markets as well. I’ve tried Target and CVS pharmacy – no dice. Finally, last week I was in Walgreen’s when the Lay’s rep had just been there. There were four bags on the shelf. I furtively looked around, hoping no one was watching, and put all four bags in my cart. I normally would never take the last of something. Our mother always taught us that you never take the last cookie or the last piece of cake. Advice which seems ridiculous. Of course we wanted the last piece of cake! She never said, “Don’t take that last Brussel’s sprout!”. Upon reflection, I realize that there was never just one sprout left.
Anyway, as I walked around Walgreen’s picking up the rest of my necessities, I ran through what excuses I might offer the check-out guy as to why I was depleting their entire stock of Baked Lays. A graduation party? Or, more appropriate for my age, a celebration of life? In the end, I just put my goods on the counter and proceeded to check out. I didn’t look the check-out guy in the eye, lest he pose the dreaded “why?” question. I felt guilty as I drove home, certain that a seven-year-old somewhere is Scottsdale was going to be deprived of potato chips in his lunch pail. But when I walked in the house with my ill-gotten gains my greediness was rewarded. My husband looked at me like I was Olivia Newton-John (his girl crush). I can’t remember the last time he looked at me that way.
I’ve heard that we’re in for even more food shortages this summer. What’s more, because fertilizer may be in short supply, they are going to spray manure on the crops, including potatoes. Perhaps I need to tell my husband that, thus reducing his desire for the chips. And, unfortunately, me.