It’s not surprising that the culture which gave us specific words for a brilliant idea you get while drinking but end up regretting later (Schnapsidee — I get a lot of these), and for the perverse sense of satisfaction at taking joy in someone else’s pain (Schadenfreude) should also have a term for hoarding.
The Germans call panic buying Der Hamsterkäufe (‘hamster buying’). When I think about it, ‘hoarder’ has connotations of greed, of grabbing as much as you can for yourself, and perhaps that’s appropriate for North America. I like ‘hamster’ better, with its sense of blind preparation for an approaching season of difficulty.
But semantics aside, these hamsters are fucking annoying.
They’re still hoarding toilet paper, for one, and I just don’t understand the obsession. I haven’t seen toilet paper in my neighbourhood shops in at least a week. But it doesn’t stop there.
I haven’t seen a single package of flour at my local Rewe in at least a month and a half, either. That and dried grains like beans, quinoa and bulgar. These city dwellers are rediscovering pioneering skills they never knew they didn’t have, such as baking their own bread. It won’t go well.
Eggs were completely cleared out, too, for the third time this month. That’s right. There wasn’t a single egg in the shop. All the milk was gone, too — even that crappy 1% milk. The only thing left was a few cartons of a lactose-free milk product, and a bunch of so-called ‘oat milk’ which isn’t milk at all.
Look, I will not pour some sludge of ground up almond or oat powder and water into my coffee or tea. It’s not the same thing as the gift of the cow, so please stop pretending it is.
And while we’re at it, let me get something else off my hairy chest. Humans are omnivores — or as my partner in magazine assignments, Jason George, used to say, opportunivores. We’re animals, part of a vast food chain in which life feeds upon life.
So by all means go on imagining that broccoli doesn’t scream, and plants don’t communicate with one another. But please stop coming up with nonsense names like ‘tofu bacon’, or ‘tofu turkey’, or ‘veggie burgers’. You gave those foods up. You don’t get to eat them anymore.
It’s either a vegetarian plot to convince the rest of us we’re not really missing anything by swapping in some highly processed soy sludge for nature’s most delicious food: bacon. Or an attempt to convince themselves of an obvious lie.
You lot go on eating your pre-formed processed soy sludge, chock-full of man-boob-forming phytoestrogens for the man bun crowd, and I’ll keep eating bacon, and we’ll agree to peacefully judge one another as fools and monsters, respectively.
Anyway, what was I saying?
Oh yes. What the hell are these hamsters doing with all those eggs and all that milk? How exactly is one supposed to hoard them? I thought they might be freezing the milk, but Berliners are apartment dwellers with tiny refrigerators, who tend to shop day by day. There’s barely enough room in our freezer compartment for a small container of ice cream, a couple ice cube trays, and some bread for toast.
I saw one guy last night buying 30 tins of kidney beans. I hope he’s practicing Stoßlüften (‘shock ventilation’) in his flat, because he’s going to need it.
And so we’ve come full circle. I really can’t understand why these people are hoarding so much toilet paper. It’s not as though they’ll have much use for it. They’ll be able to shit through the eye of a needle on their diet of dried beans and raw flour. (“Oh, you think it’s difficult to fit a camel through there? Matthew, hold my beer…”)
Are COVID-19 hoarders or hamsters active in your neighbourhood? What are they stashing away? Please add your stories in the comments below. I love a good rant.