Snow Day Donner Party Overcompensation Syndrome

Heavy snow accumulation. The words escape the weatherman's lips. It reaches the ear. It travels to the brain.

And it triggers a jittery, uncontrollable need for bread and milk.

Why, even if we're so lactose intolerant we'd get irritable bowel from one lonely Milk Dud....

Even if we're Living La Vida Gluten-Free...

...We Pittsburghers still grab the keys, revv up the car and roar to the closest Giant Eagle supermarket to stock up for three months of total geographic isolation, by buying things that mold and spoil if you look at them the wrong way.

It's tradition.

So, I go to the store and, in an attempt to strike a note of stoic individuality, I buy hamburger buns and coffee creamer.

"These are not milk and bread. They are non-dairy creamer and sandwich fixin's," my shopping basket proclaims proudly. "Judge not, lest thine Wonderbread and Colteryahn 2% be judged."

And, well, while I'm there at the store, I decide I'd better just pick up some more toilet paper, too. Because what if I suddenly develop dysentery during my seclusion? Or... or... scurvy? (Does scurvy involve intestinal issues? No time to look it up, but why take chances?)

Why, I'd be forced to use... I don't know... sheets from the Pennysaver!

And not only would that clog up my drains, but the print would transfer itself in ways I'd prefer to not think about. There are just certain places on the body that do not need ads for purebred pitbull puppies decorating them.

So with toilet paper in tow, I realize I might want also to cook myself a nice hearty breakfast before digging out. To give myself the superhuman energy to move the artic ice caps that undoubtedly will be moving into my neighborhood.

And so I'll need eggs...

And bacon...

And, well, if I want toast, maybe I'll need that loaf of whole grain wheat after all...

I stack it in the basket with a furtive gaze, and in an instant, I feel a flash of chilled hands and frozen toes.

Dear God! Post-shoveling I'll want a cup of tea. Do I have tea in the house?

And in spite of some sense that there's actually stack of tea in the pantry so towering that Earl Grey himself would say "pip-pip" to it, I secure another box. Safety tea, really.

So by the time I've done, my basket is a low-rider and my 12-items-or-less has somehow transformed into the fully-stocked freezer of the Overlook Hotel.

And I can see, by the bulging grocery bags of my fellow shoppers, that I am not the only one. This behavior really needs itself a name. And I'd like to suggest "Snow Day Donner Party Overcompensation Syndrome."

I suspect it's borne of some innate fear that one day, lack of preparation and an Apocalyptic dose of Mother Nature will mean we'd be force to dine on... oh... Grandpa Al to survive.

We know deep down that even if we made it through the crisis ourselves, the post-dinner guilt of noshing on beloved relatives would kill us.

Plus, Grandpa Al is a little stringy.

It's just safer to buy the bread and milk.

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Question of the day: In your area, do you see the bread aisle pretty much cleaned out at the first sign of flurries? And are you one of those snowstorm stocker-uppers?

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Humorbloggers.com

17 comments:

Surfie said...

Living in Myrtle Beach, we don't really get snow here, but come hurricane season, the same phenomenon occurs. Bread, milk, and bottled water disappear from the shelves in short order. I wonder if the people who have to evacuate take the milk and bread with them, or if they leave it for their return in case all the grocery stores have been annihilated in their absense. Something to think about, to be sure. :)

Jenn Thorson said...

Surfie- That's a good point, too-- milk doesn't really TRAVEL well, does it? Nobody goes on long treks with their trusty canteen of milk.

Anonymous said...

This rush to the stores happens in Lancaster, Pa. also. I usually don't rush out to get stuff unless it's a big storm and we are low on milk since I have 3 small childern to take care of. My experience has been that Lancaster isn't very good at clearing roads especially when a big storm hits so I rather make sure I have enough stuff to get us through a couple of days then drive on crappy roads.

barry.knister@gmail.com said...

Your post takes me back to Michigan winters, to sliding down expressway embankments when not only schools but Interstate highways were closed. Then it was home to gallons of milk and mounds of white bread, neither of which I any longer ate.

To Myrtle Beach:
I was under the impression your hurricane shopping was similar to ours here in Florida. Apparently not. Before a storm makes landfall,I don't think I've ever seen anyone around here buy milk. What flies off the shelves is vodka,and tonic water (to prevent deydration),plus Cheetos and beef jerky (for protein). As a simple caution, most Floridians always maintain a month's supply of beer, so that's not at issue. You will, though, sometimes see fights break out over the last bag of pork rinds or jar of martini olives.

Janine@Shelf Life said...

I don't know about milk being the number one beverage for snow days - I've seen a lot of beer in the shopping carts in my day.

Jenn Thorson said...

Anonymous- Ah, with little ones, you probably always have to plan like it's a snow day, so you don't run out of stuff.

Barry- Yeah, your Michigan winters are similar to our Pittsburgh ones. If you don't have to worry about sliding into the intersection down a hill, it just isn't winter. :)

Janine- We would too if the grocery stores sold beer here! :) We still have strange liquor laws, so we have to get our beer from distributors and other liquor from the state store. I guess they're saving us from ourselves. :)

Jaffer said...

Well, I have found myself buying and preparing a warming winter meal on snow storm nights - chilli or minestrone etc...

There is an noticeable rush in traffic and at the store when the weather man announces a snow-storm on radio or tv.

But not before every snow and flurry ! heh heh ... we'd just look sillier then.

Beer Drinker said...

Surfie and Barry beat me to the hurricane similarities. Yes, the bread aisle looks like the hurricane already hit days before the potential landfall.

But I lived your PA snowstorm life my whole childhood, so I know that angle too.

Jenn Thorson said...

Jaffer- Given a lot of our cold weather comes via your way, you'd be running to the store every two seconds. :)

BeerDrinker- Oh, I can imagine. I didn't realize you were originally a PA person-- I bet aside from hurricane season, you're feeling pretty good about your move south! :)

screwdestiny said...

To the question of the day: not at all. I live in Wyoming, where we often get snow, and people know how to drive in it (or so they think they do) and so nobody really worries about stocking up. If they need something they'll go out and get it.

Jenn Thorson said...

ScrewDestiny- Oh, it would have to be great to see folks actually know how to drive in snow. We had one little old lady who ended up holding our parkway up for FOUR HOURS. My commute normally took about 40 minutes.

CatLadyLarew said...

It's so much fun watching people go all "Oh, No! We'll turn into the Donner Party if we don't buy out the grocery store because it's the storm of the century and we're all gonna die!"

Skye said...

Around here people definitely stock up when there are warnings of snow. The province I live in isn't called Manisnowba for nothing, ya know, let alone the capital city being Winterpeg! The first things to disappear here are milk bread and eggs as well. Good thing most people don't drink homogenized milk, so I never have to worry about being able to get that. Also, I bake my own bread so that's not much of a concern either. As for eggs, come summer I'm getting some chickens so that won't be a concern for next winter :D

Unfinished Rambler said...

To answer your questions:

1. Every single time.

2. Nope. Liquor store: Jagermeister.

MA Fat Woman said...

Nothing says terror in the dairy or bread lanes faster than a 10% chance of a wintry mix...watch out, folks can get down right lethal with a French baguette and three gallons of milk under each arm.

Melanie said...

Here in South Dakota, we don't stock up unless the weather forecast is calling for many feet of snow. At our house, we're thirty five miles from the grocery store, so we've always got a good supply of everything no matter the weather.

If we shopped for every little flurry, we'd be running to the store every other day this winter.

Richard said...

Great post! You all would laugh at us Southernors! We over react and start stocking up at the hint of snow! Fortunately, it's a mild day here right now! Again, fine post and best wishes!