The Abstract American: A Satirical Take on the Ugly Art of Panic Hoarding

By: Sammye Richardson

Beautiful woman in apricot polka-dot dress and white ballet flats standing against a cluster of boulders.

Sammye Richardson is a writer, a mother, and a student at Bakersfield College. She also has ridiculously adorable fur babies(pictures to come). This piece examines the all-too-familiar patterns of the Covid-19 grocery store hoarder. Ideally, in five years the idea of fighting for “TP” will be a memory far submerged in the darker depths of the American subconscious. Mirroring Swift’s modest proposal of long ago, Ms. Richardson forces Americans to look at ourselves. How do we treat people in the time of Covid-19? How will we be proactive, as opposed to reactive?

On March 19, 2020, I stood in line in front of a local store, where the line extended sixty to one-hundred feet, and asked myself if it was worth it to stand in this line just to buy brown rice, garbanzo beans, wheat pasta, and lentils, and why I couldn’t just eat chicken like my pets?

 I surveyed my landscape: a young school teacher/mother of three kids was in front of me, a Trump supporter and his wife behind me. As we all talked about life in an environment of self-exile, we could hear background sounds of loud talking, loud enough without any speaking aids to reach the back of the line. As I dug into my hippocampus, no other instances other than international airports, champagne brunches, or banks merited the length of this line. I had no idea of the emotional energy it would take to shop for food under pressure and at all times to remain the proper number of feet away from fellow shoppers. This was all sans mask, I might add. In the interest of coping, my inner smart-ass came over the intangible grocery store loud speaker.

“Friends, Americans, Countrymen,” I said to no one.“For some of you, greed and hoarding are not new concepts. Allow me to stimulate your brain with some suggestions: If you desire to buy ten-pound bags of potatoes, or hoard food that you have no place for in your life,but your neighbor might need to survive? Please pull your hand back and think before you take what you don’t need.”

“Additionally, for those of you who would like to become instantly famous on social media by pulling a fellow shopper’s hair out whilst fighting over TP, please remember that trash comes in all colors.”

Green waste goes to the green trash bins.

Brown waste goes to the brown trash bins.

Black waste goes to the black trash bins.

White waste goes to the white trash bins.

Yellow waste goes to the yellow trash bins.

Green waste goes to the…

Published by Kaitlin Hulsy

Kaitlin is an Adjunct Professor in the English Department at Bakersfield College, and Cal State University, Bakersfield. She truly believes in the power of writing as an effective artistic outlet in very uncertain times. She thanks you for visiting, and hopes that you will share. 😊

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