Which one were you?
Were you the parent who ran into the package store 30 minutes before school let out, bought a handle of booze, and slipped back out into the sunlight, looking both ways to make sure nobody saw your daylight whiskey purchase?
Were you the lonely looking man who had to park so far away from the store that he was closer to the new wings place on the corner? That same man who looked through the tinted doors and seemed to be thinking, “I could just ride out the storm in there, sucking on drummies and cheap light beer until the thaw,” the one who might have been a man no one would’ve missed at all?
Were you that woman who knew the first sign of real trouble was in the chicken aisle, blonde and alarmed at the hoarder-run on breasts, thighs, and legs, the one who quietly moaned, “I’m just trying to make dinner” while shaking her head at the wild-eyed atavists who might have come from a Stephen King novel about the wintery end of the world?
Were you the man in the overcoat, unshaven and surly, a Disney character made up to look human, a grumble-bumpkin who could be 99 as easily as 60, the kind who shuffle-walks and hasn’t seen the sunlight since the last time you day-shopped in 1956?
Were you the 40-something guy looking at the high ceilings inside the raw-white grocery store, the one wondering how Soul Asylum’s “Runaway Train” ended up as winter storm shopping music on the overhead PA, and further worried about whether Dave Pirner is still alive and how he would feel about being the soundtrack to America’s favorite annual apocalypse?
Were you one of those cashiers who worked with heads down, the automaton fitted with hands that shuffled right to left until the sound of the beep, the one who dared look up in silent agreement at the suggestion that everyone around her had gone meteorologically mad?
Were you the bag boy who had prepared a speech for the day, wondering aloud if the customer in front of him had any big plans for the weekend, blithely ignoring the fact that anyone in his eyesight had plans to buy all the food and hoard it like a warlord when the power finally failed and the neighbors were in danger of starving to death in their suburban culdesacs?
Or, when every line was stretched out to the frozen foods section, overfull grocery carts were slamming into each other like something out of Mad Max, and every sweating shopper was ready to eat-alive anyone who suggested the weather wasn’t going to be that bad, were you the little woman who took her place in line, opened a huge binder, and started sorting through her coupons?
Because if you were that woman, go to sleep knowing, of all the horrible people who winter storm shop, of all the people who claw and fight for the last skinless chicken breast, of all the mouth-breathing hayseeds who drive a tractor better than a grocery cart, of all the preened and primped soccer moms sighing and foot-tapping at the humanity around them, of all the rotisserie chicken festishists who will go to bed with lemon pepper on their chins tonight, you, Coupon Lady, are the nut-low of the winter storm shoppers, and I hope the 50 cents you saved on paper towels buys you an extra day of life on this miserable planet when everything finally freezes over.