Monday while traveling from the Tarrant County Clerks Office to Parker and Palo Pinto Jails, my husband send me a text that read “buy toilet paper we are out.”
This wasn’t an unusual request from my husband as I had left with a list of weekly items that I normally buy and stock once a week.
I do not buy toilet paper every week because there are only two of us at our home and we don’t need or warrant more than 4-6 rolls at a time. But, this simple request would become extraordinarily difficult to find for me.
Welcome to the toilet paper controversy with hilarious memes and people laughing at others buying toilet paper this past Monday.
By Friday, the people laughing weren’t laughing.
By Friday people in small town Weatherford were getting into fist fights over Charmin.
By Friday I had seen the world change before my eyes. Hoarding and flipping hand sanitizer for $100 on eBay? I’ve seen it.
Toilet paper for $20 a roll on FB Marketplace? I’ve seen it. People buying all of the cold medicine, alcohol, hand sanitizer and wipes as well as canned food items, sugar, meat and food while wiping out supplies for anyone else? I’ve seen it.
I’ve seen some of the wildest scenarios in four days that I could ever imagine. I wish I hadn’t but I have.
On Friday, Cindy and I took a break between clients to go to Walmart. Shelves were empty. Baskets over turned by angry customers left lying on their sides. Ransacked shelves empty greeted shoppers who didn’t expect this type of “mission” to buy toilet paper or anything else for that matter.
Cindy and I left Walmart and headed to Dollar Tree. No toilet paper. No hand sanitizer. No bottled water.
We then drove to Dollar General and found alcohol for the injections my husband gives me at home because going to the doctor once a week with my schedule isn’t convenient. The alcohol was 50% rather than 70% but it was better than nothing. We also found 2 packs of 4 roll toilet paper. There were only 2 packs of 4 roll TP in the store.
We then left Dollar General and went to Albertsons. Still no hand sanitizer. There was coffee and cream and bread as well as eggs. The panic that would arrive a few days later hadn’t “hit yet.”
I bought cantaloupe, watermelon, broccoli and my usual staple items including coffee and cream as well as salmon and chicken breasts and a few cans of soup.
Had I known that there would be food shortages for my Sunday or Monday shopping depending on my schedule, I might have bought a few cans of soup more, some rice and even some beans or ramen noodles but, hindsight is 20/20.
Monday prior to the hysteria and hoarding going on around me, I arrived home and prepared my suv for the drive to Beto Unit in Tennessee Colony on Tuesday to meet my bride. I had loaded furs, bouquets, hats and fun items from my Texas Twins Inventory and planned a leisurely drive to Beto Unit.
Tuesday, I stopped in Corsicana to visit the Walmart and buy my new grandson the diapers and wipes since I couldn’t find at Cindy’s Walmart Monday.
I would have a few problems finding either the diapers or the water wipes my daughter in law prefers in Corsicana.
There weren’t people agitated racing down the aisles. There was bottled water. There wasn’t hand sanitizer or toilet paper, baby wipes or paper towels.
I needed a few rolls of paper towels but decided I could wing it if I had to by using my tea towels at home.
By Tuesday I still wasn’t alarmed. A few things were difficult to come by depending on where you went while others weren’t. No mass hysteria just YET.
I left Corsicana Walmart and headed to Tennessee Colony/Palestine Texas to meet my client at Beto.
While driving there, a herd of wild hogs came running across the 2 lane road with cars traveling 70-80 miles an hour. I saw the “hub bub” about half a mile ahead and slowed down thinking it was deer or elk.
On closer inspection, it was something I had never encountered on the 300,000 miles I have driven getting to Units in Texas.
Wild hogs? They were huge and could easily flip a car as their girth is low to the ground. I tip toed my way around the herd and traveled on wondering where they had come from and if a driver not paying attention wouldnt slow down until it was too late?
Arriving at Beto, I find my bride in the parking lot. We walk in together. She’s thrilled. Her smile shows her joy. We clear in and wait on the chaplain.
We walk to the traditional photo wall at Beto and it’s coveted with Coronavirus signs.
Frankly, I don’t want to use the wall and have my clients photo peppered with Coronavirus signs on wedding day. I request using the tropical wall in the vending machine area instead and we are granted the privilege to do so.
Leaving the Unit, my bride follows me to an old church just outside Palestine. I begin unloading and finding my favorite areas based on lighting and background. We are laughing and having a great time together. I hand her a bottle of water from my trunk and we spend a few minutes trying different areas and have fun celebrating her marriage.
I love my job. We hug and say goodbye as I head to Dallas North Tower to meet my next client.
Cutting through Tennessee Colony, I’m leery about another encounter with those wild hogs I saw a few hours earlier. My fear is confirmed when I see a hog on the side of the road outside of Cayuga, Texas. Someone wasn’t paying attention.
Backroads in Texas give you a wide variety of surprises such as deer, elk, possums and armadillos which can jump straight off the ground four feet right into your grill. Wild hog herds though were a new one for me.
Cautiously driving towards Corsicana aware that something else could jump out on the road, I’m unaware of the widespread panic spreading across America.
I take calls from clients and Units. I check in with my husband and let my son and daughter in law know I will drop off diapers and other supplies I’ve found to them in the morning. I’m not worried about baby wipes because I assume I can find them. I will later realize I can’t.
By the time I leave North Tower in Dallas, a phone call from my niece at Point Hueneme, California regarding “people fighting over toilet paper and water.” This IS DISTURBING. Toilet paper?
Leigh Ann is frightened. People at the military base are no longer touching and running her ID. Instead, they are now simply looking at it.
People are acting differently. Leigh Ann plans to go to Ventura and try to find bottled water. I advise her to wait until her husband comes back from work since her 4 year old, Madyson is a handful.
Checking the clock on my Sahara, I don’t have time to file licenses in Tarrant County and decide to do so Wednesday morning on my way to drop off cold supplies to my son who has sinusitis and diapers for my grandson.
I decide to stop in Lake Worth to buy groceries, juice and soup. There are no paper towels, water or toilet paper at Walmart. I buy meat, pasta, bread, lunch meat and cheese as well as juice. The supplies are low but I assume the trucks are coming or running behind.
There aren’t entire empty shelves other than cleaning products, hand sanitizers and toilet paper or water. There is still fruit and vegetables. There is still soup, rice, beans and other staples.
Wednesday morning with my Jeep loaded for my sons house, I head to the clerks office. There are signs regarding the Coronavirus everywhere. The governor of California has revoked visitors to prisons. This is alarming.
I have 5 Units next week. Will TDCJ follow suit? I’m thinking no but my husband is thinking a strong maybe on my phone call to him leaving the clerk. “They are cancelling major events. NASCAR, golf, basketball. This is spiraling out of control. Update your clients and stay on top of changes. They will need to know what’s going on. Stay calm. This will pass but it may take a week or two.”
I’m worried but helpless to change what’s coming. Leigh Ann is increasingly concerned watching the news by Wednesday. Costco and Sam’s are running out of everything.
There is no hand sanitizer available anywhere. My son needs it as he is sick with a new baby. Cindy and I decide to make our own hand sanitizer.
My son is getting better but still answers the door in a mask. I begin unloading an full of items for my son and his wife and begin cooking lunch for them while checking on the baby.
Ollie is three weeks old and doing well but he’s fragile. He wears an Owlett sock to monitor his breathing, blood sugar and heart rate.
Leaving my son fully stocked other than baby wipes, I drop in on my husband down the street from my sons development. McBee Homes is just a few miles away. I invite my husband to lunch.
We choose Boo Ray about 1/2 a mile from McBee. It’s dead. There are very few people eating out. I notice it. My husband does too.
My husband decides to ask about my schedule next week and any possible changes. It’s a full plate. I’m at Green Bay Unit Monday. Wallace and Middleton Units Tuesday. Allred and Roach Units Thursday. Estes Unit Friday then back to Green Bay and Parker County. I will be driving about 2300 miles.
My husband again advises me “TDCJ may follow California. Caddo Parrish is also suspending visits.” Matthew like me is following prison news.
I consider cancelled visitation at prisons before answering my husband. “Weekend visits are thousands of people at prisons. My client and I are two people. I’ve decided to add to my booster shots a phnuemonia shot just in case and after Cindy’s heart surgery, believe it wouldn’t be a bad idea for her either.”
I’m still not even entertaining the possibility that TDCJ will cancel my confirmed dates. I cannot imagine having to tell my clients who have waited months that another delay looms in the future. I worry. I fret.
I also head to Dr Stern for an adjustment. The stress of Leigh Ann in California and people hoarding along with the possibility that my clients could be rescheduled has me with a stiff neck.
Dr Stern has been my trusted chiropractic go to for twenty years. He knows when I’m stressed I hold stress in my shoulders. My left shoulder is out. He pops it back in and goes over the importance of finding time to relax. I have none. Time is something I never have.
Thursday morning, Cindy arrives at WorthamWorld. We have a list of things to buy for an upcoming wedding at Botanic Garden and head to Hobby Lobby. We both discuss the news media and coverage of this mysterious virus. We worry about Leigh Ann and Maddy in California. But, we don’t think mass hysteria is going to come to Weatherford or Fort Worth. We are both wrong.
I talk my twin into getting a phnuemonia shot with me at Walgreens. We both walk into prisons on a regular basis. Keeping our vaccines up to date is important not only for our own health but also to keep from getting ill and possibly getting our family or clients sick too.
I buy colloidal silver. I buy zinc. I listen to Cindy complain about her arm pain. I have it too but it will get worse later. So painful was my left arm and shoulder by 1AM that I woke my husband crying out in pain. I go get Aleve.
My arm feels like it weighs 100lbs. I worry I’m having a bad reaction.
At 3AM, I call Cindy. Her arm is killing her too. We are both highly concerned this pain will be permanent.
I consider buying a sling the pain is so intense. After reviewing answers from others who have had the same shot, I decide to use my arm rather than prop it.
Friday morning, I drive to Weatherford. Cindy sits for me to meet her after Parker County Clerks Office. We can’t find feminine items for Cindy’s twin granddaughters and decide to set out on a mission. The twins are picky. They are also brand loyal.
Walmart is a mad house. Empty shelves and angry shoppers abound. We leave and go to Big Lots. We then leave and go to Albertsons. We then leave and go to Brookshires then H E B. We come up empty. There are no hygiene products to be found the Twins brand or otherwise.
There’s a fist fight at Brookshires. In small town America? Willow Park of all places? Two grown men fighting over toilet paper.
Someone is honking and yelling at someone else to pull out of a parking lot space. Angry honking which is rare in Texas is everywhere. People are agitated. Angry. Scared.
Governor Abbott announced a state of emergency. He also suggested removing visits from nursing homes, prisons and large gatherings of people.
Fifteen minutes later, TDCJ suspends all visitation. But, does this affect my clients and I as we go into Units during the week. I begin calling Units for next week. The revoked visitation affects my clients. Their dates are cancelled.
Arriving home, I’m still fielding panicked clients in Texas and other states. I have no idea how long this will last.
An email from Chaplain Rentz of Bridgeport Unit that reads “I’ve just got off a conference call with all Chaplains in TDCJ and they have Cancelled all Volunteer entry into Units throughout the state until further notice.”
I’m still trying to determine if my clients are affected when I find that they are. Everyone will need to reschedule. People who have waited months for a very important date. People who will be saddened and disappointed. My people. My clients.
Leigh Ann sends me photos and videos of mass hysteria in California. I advise her that Texans are equally terrified, angry and behaving in a manner I’ve never seen before.
I’m 55 years old. I’ve seen a lot of things. I’ve lived through the gas crisis in the 60’s and 70’s. I’ve never seen people fighting over food. I’ve never seen people fighting over water or toilet paper.
I’ve never seen anything like this mass hysteria occur in my lifetime. I hope I never see it again..watching people fight over gas as a child was something neither Cindy or I can or will ever forget.
We are all in this together. Please don’t hoard essential items that others need. Please don’t leave home if you are ill and please wash your hands…