What is Essential?
What is essential? It depends on who you ask and when.
For instance, until January 1, 2020, and a massive overhaul of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, a US skipper could throw a troublesome sailor in the brig for minor offenses and feed him the essentials — bread and water.
Today, Americans across the country are on a mad hunt for a different sort of essential — toilet paper, and also, flour and yeast. Plain it all on hoarding, panic buying, and lots of comfort baking.
I had an early sheltering-in-place yen for bananas. Then, M&Ms. But happily, I’ve been well-stocked most days on both. However, consumer alert: I have NOT been able to order basic Oreos for two weeks. Is this a looming national crisis or merely a Galatz-Wellinghoff household cookie jar tempest?
And Exactly What IS Essential? And To Whom?
Meanwhile, the Amazon employees who are the lifeline for sheltering-at-home people like me are complaining about unsafe work conditions AND the buying practices of consumers.
One Amazon protestor was spotlighted on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver this past Sunday. He was unhappy with the person who ordered a dildo, saying something to the effect, “Really, people, this is an essential item? This is something I need to risk my life to procure for you?”
So, this, of course, leads me — tongue-in-cheek — to ask, “What is an essential item?”
Point A: I’m sure the person who ordered said dildo, stuck at home, possibly alone for who knows how many weeks, believed it was essential, possibly lifesaving.
Point B: I ordered a fly swatter which at the moment was 3000% essential. I am bug phobic and could not believe I had misplaced my fly swatter nor could I face the thought of life trapped at home without one.
That said, I have two subpoints to make about this essential purchase:
- I resented the fact deeply I needed to order a pack of 3.
- I resented the fact even more deeply that I had to order them in pastel colors.
Still, they were in stock and would arrive in 2 days. So, that was good.
Even the shipping Gods at Amazon consider fly swatters consider priority items essential and prioritize them for shipping in the new Amazonian delivery world order!
Point C: I just ordered the fancy spritz-on gray hair root concealer I so DESPERATELY need. I ordered a two-pack of the stuff. It’s not cheap. It’s not a color perfect match. And it smells a bit nasty. But it conceals my dull gray roots and doesn’t make me look like a striped hyena in the process. It — at least in Amazon’s eyes — is not an essential item and will not arrive for 3 weeks. For the love of Aphrodite and Venus, how is covering up a pudgy middle-aged woman’s dingy gray roots not a priority? I mean, come on, Jeff Bezos? Have a heart! I’m hanging on here by a thread, trying to maintain my grip and gratitude. But every time I look in the mirror, I feel that thread fraying. Please hear my plea and personally intervene. Does it help to know that I subscribe to the Washington Post even though I live in California? Does that score me some Amazon shipping points?
Point D: All of this discussion makes me wonder what’s next. Will Walmart, Target, and Costco stores stop selling ‘nonessential’ items such as toys and clothing? Oh, my! That’s already happening in parts of the US.
Point E: I don’t have any more points which I fear makes me pointless!
And so goes Day 29. Be sure to check out tomorrow’s Muddling through Middle Age blog. I’ve got a new public policy initiative for Dr. Fauci to consider – “Social Distancing for Spouses.” I’ll be posting it early Wednesday morning on my website and also on my Facebook Muddling Me page!
It is interesting how we all judge what is essential, as you noted, from day to day, or even hour to hour. Thank you for being an essential break as part of the day for so many.
Well, you made my day with such kind words. Seriously, thank you!
Just remember it’s true, and keep on keepin’ on!