Letter Re: Observations on Empty Store Shelves in Louisiana

Mr. Rawles,
I am an over the road truck driver and happen to be in Louisiana today. I have been to several stores in the southern part of the state and took note of what was in short supply. The shelves in the camping section were empty, they were out of water, generators, gas cans, coolers and frozen dinners. The frozen dinner thing I didn’t get, I figured they’d be short on canned or boxed food. Just stuff I noticed and thought I’d share. God Bless and I’ve been praying for your wife.- Vincent from Portland

JWR Replies: Part of the reason that the camping supplies were low is that September 1st has traditionally marked the end of the camping season. Many stores that have limited shelf space intentionally let these items run out, to make space available for seasonal items such as Halloween candy.

Your observation on frozen dinners was interesting. Human behavior can often be irrational. Part of this is based on ignorance and lack of common sense. In my estimation, the same people that eat frozen dinners on regular basis simply thought “emergency” and bought far more dinners than usual. They did this without thinking through the chain of events that are coincident with a major tropical storm, including power failures. The scary thing is that there are a lot of truly ignorant people out there that lack common sense. In my experience, the same ignorant irrationality displayed in times of emergency is an “equal opportunity” phenomenon–among people of all socioeconomic backgrounds.