With the hurricane looming closer and closer, but still more than 4 days away, Phillip and I went to Publix to get something simple. We have our stash, we have our jugs of water and canned goods, back up coffee, toilet paper…..But, what we needed was something simple for dinner. We went to our neighborhood Publix at an early time of day and knew we were in trouble. Five to seven cars were waiting just to pull in the parking lot. We finally found a space, we don’t care if it is close or not, and headed for the store. We passed a woman who had squirmed her way into a handicap space. (Sorry, but don’t give me PC correction, not today). A legitimate disabled person was honking at another handicapped person and screaming, “I need to park here!” The other woman (allegedly handicapped) got out of her car and screamed, “I’ve been waiting for a space for an hour, go fuck yourself.” I just looked at Phillip and said, “Damn….all we need is something for tonight.” Yeah, two disable people fighting over a parking space….and both of them walked out their cars to have their argument.
We got into the madness that was the human race. No shopping carts left. No hand carts either. I’m looking at baguettes while people on the other side of the aisle are crashing carts into each other to get Gatorade. No water left. Only the strawberry flavored Perrier. And I drink a lot of Perrier, but even I was questioning, “Man, does it really taste THAT bad????” We went to get beef for stew. And that was all we needed. Already had my veggies at home. We quickly went to the express line, which is no longer express thanks to you bitches with your chip cards. I remember the days when the express lane was cash only…..but, I digress.
As Phillip and I were waiting semi-patiently in line just to buy two simple things, I had time to scan the store, the people, the energy, the behavior. I guess as a moment of comforting reaction, my left hand held my right arm and began to rub, as a sort of self hug, self affirmation, self protection, self defense. I watched old ladies being pushed aside for medicines, people beginning to battle over bags of potato chips, shopping carts full of not what was needed, but for the purpose of hording, forgetting and uncaring of anyone else who may need something, people taking home 20 gallons of water, people paying other people in the store for the water in their carts at double the price. I saw people panicking, falling into mayhem, screwing each other over, dismissing humanity and declaring righteous rule.
And my hand felt wet. I looked down and that comforting motion of moving my hand back and forth had somehow changed. I was covered in blood, had begun to claw myself without knowing it. I looked down to find my hands and arms covered in blood. I shuddered, “Oh, my God…..” There was blood everywhere. I gave Phillip my wallet, and the cashier, whom I have seen for 20 years, even said, “Darling! Papi! You’re bleeding!” I ran to the restroom to wash it off, to clean myself. I grabbed some paper towels to hold the wounds, the deep scratches. I stared into the bloody running water. I looked into the mirror, my face turning white. And all I could think of, “Is this what we have become? Animals…..”
When I returned the cashier, Carmen, was so concerned. “What happened?”
I didn’t have an answer. I really didn’t. I guess I felt so overwhelmed with watching the human race screw itself into a panicky frenzy that I just got lost somewhere in my own head. Just watching them harm each other, despise each other….I guess my self comfort became something of a “wake up.” I don’t know why it happened. But, I do know that when I was watching the madness happen…..it didn’t seem to me like anyone else did. They were all in their own worlds….and maybe my own psyche was telling me to wake up. They don’t care about anyone else. They’re buying 20 packages of toilet paper and potato chips. They care nothing about the world, they care nothing about their neighbor….they only know that they’ve been told to get what you can, keep it for yourself, and fuck anyone in your way…..
And Phillip said, “That’s what people are like.”
I replied, “Those are the ones that will fail and suffer first…..”