Prognostications of doom had taken over the airwaves, but I already knew I was screwed when I looked in my fridge Tuesday morning and saw only a box of mixed greens, a cucumber, and a half bottle of sauvignon blanc. I had waited too long, and now I had a choice: brave the grocery store or split rations with my cat’s canned pate when Florence inevitably knocks the power out.
Grocery store it was. Ugh.
A sense of dread mounted as I pulled into the parking lot of the Cameron Village Harris Teeter and saw cars desperately circling the lot. After finally parking, I entered the store, and at first, it seemed relatively normal—the produce well-stocked, unassuming middle-aged white women idly pushing carts. But then I got to the bread aisle—or, more accurately, the hot dog bun aisle, because that’s all that was left. And only a few hot dog packages at that. Luckily, the bakery was still churning out artisan loaves, so I secured a miniature mound of sourdough. Praised be!
Down another aisle of broken dreams, I was dismayed to see only off-brand canned tuna. A woman got on her tippy toes to scan the top shelf—no StarKist for you, dear. They did have a few of those overpriced tuna snack packs left, so I quickly snatched a few and offered my prayers to an ambiguous higher power.
Bottled water? I knew it would be bad, but even the bourgeois brands like Fiji and Smartwater were cleared out—empty shelf after empty shelf sprawling toward a thirsty infinitude. The overprepared had bested me again and left no friendly drop to help me.
The soda aisle was similarly disappointing. Not a single seltzer can remained, only tonic water (who drinks that?). A store supervisor walks by and remarks, “I’ve never seen this in forty years. It’s epic.”
I settled for Diet Coke. I’ll live, right?
I don’t particularly like cereal, but I figured I’d check it out. Most of the good stuff was taken, but there were ample varieties of seasonal pumpkin spice Cheerios, Special K, and Frosted Flakes. Even in an emergency, nobody wants that crap.
“This is crazy,” says a woman pushing a cart full of off-brand Gatorade after noticing me snapping a picture of the empty peanut butter and jelly shelves.
If there’s one thing North Carolina knows how to stock, though, it’s alcohol. The wine and beer aisle was as fruitful as a Superbowl eve. Even though I’d waited till the last minute, I knew that, when chaos rains down on Raleigh in a few days, I’d survive with a trusty glass of Cabernet.
The checkout line was no great trial, thanks to what seemed like an all-hands-on-deck response (hopefully paired with ample overtime for employees). As I emerged from the ruin of Harris Teeter, a dark cloud swirled above and a vicious crack of thunder rang out.
It was only after I got home that I realized I’d forgotten candles. Shit.