Last week I had the rather eerie experience of shopping in a half-empty supermarket - "half-empty" referring to the shelves, not the number of people in the store. Due to severe weather issues many stores had missed out on getting deliveries for several days; as a result, the supermarket's inventory was running low in multiple departments. The bread aisle was completely empty except for a half-dozen loaves of raisin bread, and the only toilet paper left in the store was two jumbo-sized packs of a bargain brand.
By the time I came by to do my shopping, deliveries had resumed and employees were beginning to cart pallets out of the stockroom, but it was still a surreal sight to see so many empty shelves. And yet for most people in most parts of the world (and in just about any past era), the concept of a supermarket stocked with every imaginable type of food would seem like an inconceivably wild dream.
It's easy to take for granted just how incredibly privileged I am to live in a time and a place where I can afford to assume that my basic needs will be met today, tomorrow and into the foreseeable future. Whether I'm in the mood for a burrito or a steak or a carton of raspberries, chances are I don't have to go very far to obtain it, much less worry about where my next meal is going to come from.
It makes me wonder how long I'd survive if I were suddenly thrust into the conditions that most of the world's population face on a daily basis. Smart as I am in a bookish sort of way, it's hard to say whether you'd be better off betting for or against me.
Something to ponder as I go back to playing around on my computer in my warm, comfortable apartment with its fully stocked kitchen.