My feeling's always been, as long as we've got gas and water, we're in good shape. Making it through the derecho and Superstorm Sandy in 2012 on hot showers and French-pressed coffee — and about half a dozen bags of ice — pretty well confirmed it. I counted myself blessed and lucky.
Well, Thursday's Elk River chemical spill knocked out half of my dynamic duo of utilities needed for urban survival. It was time to hit the panic button.
So I joined the early evening swarm in search of supplies. (I missed the official word to refrain from rushing out for water purchases. Not so sure I would have heeded it. I am probably not a model citizen and definitely not a role model.)
My boy had been cooped up all day and his mom and I figured he needed to get out of the house for a bit.
As I buckled him into his car seat, I tried to sell him on the idea that he and I were going on an adventure. As a fan of undersea explorers and emergency rescue teams, he went all in on our "mission."
Of course, like Disney World, I just wanted him to experience the perception of urgency; I had no desire to live out any drama in real life.
If shopping during the holidays had taught me anything, it was to stay away from the chokepoints along Corridor G if I wanted to keep the stress down, so I headed west. (Charleston's West Side, that is. I was prepared to go as far as Cross Lanes if I had to, though.)
There didn't appear to be any sort of frenzy at the Kmart parking lot, so in we went.
There was no flurry of carts loaded down with cases of water to greet us at the entrance. Good sign. And there were still plenty of carts — also good. Into the buggy the boy went.
Saw a gentleman with a couple of cases of water, so we went opposite of his direction until we came upon a small crowd near a soft drink display. Paydirt.
There was a pallet full of bottled Aquafina, but it was going fast. I tried to get cute and went to the other side of the gathering and wound up having to reach over a display stand to pick up a case.
Of course, I knocked the stand and its entire contents of tiny, little water flavoring bottles over. Panic buy foul.
But before I had to face the ignominy of getting down on my hands and knees to pick up the multi-colored profusion of berry, cherry, orange and whatnot, an angel of grace swooped in.
"I can help you," young Jacey Crisp, of Charleston, said.
The two of us immediately set to work to pick up my mess, as her grandmother chatted with my little boy.