Insights Into Cultural Shifts From A Visit To A Hardware Store
"So this is what it looks like when a society is starting to collapse," the man standing behind the counter at the hardware store said matter-of-factly. The remark had been directed at no one in particular, but generally at anyone standing nearby. As I was among that audience, I looked at him inquisitively, eliciting in return a look indicating that his observation should be intuitively obvious to even the casual observer.
"We should not be this busy," he continued. "People are normally out Christmas shopping for the latest tech gadgets for their kids, but instead they are spending their hard-earned money here." I had to agree with his observation, because the place was packed, and it was obvious that his inventory was disappearing from the glass showcases and from the wall behind the counter quicker than the store could replenish it.
"We have manufacturers that aren't taking any more orders. We even have a manufacturer that has shut down production and furloughed the entire workforce. I guess when we run out, we run out." He excused himself and joined his staff to help restock the shelves as well as operate the register.
As I surveyed the store, I noticed no discernible demographic pattern among the customers. They included elderly ladies, young couples, construction workers, police officers and hipster techies as well as people from virtually every ethnic and socio-economic background. They would have made the perfect tapestry for a politician's campaign stop.
"So this is what it looks like when a society starts to collapse," I reflected on what the man behind the counter had said. As melodramatic as his words were, they would be understood by any student of human history.
You see, the hardware store I was in was a gun store. What on earth would compel me to visit a gun store so close to the horrible tragedy in Connecticut? As some readers know, firearms played a significant role in my former professional life in the military. The truth is I wanted to get a sense for what's actually going on in the gun industry, as opposed to the manufactured "reality" presented by the mainstream media.
Having returned from serving a customer, the owner of the gun store continued his observations.
"It's different this time. The last time, with the Clinton gun ban, people knew that it would be temporary. The economy was good and people didn't really care. This time… well, it's different." He then elaborated on the reason that one manufacturer had shut down its fabrication facility: Apparently it was unwilling to be stuck with inventory that at a stroke of a pen will become contraband.
In reply to my follow-on question as to what he meant when he said society was starting to collapse, he answered, "People talk about debt, a recession that won't go away and how we are on track to bankrupting the country. This is all true. But they are all part of a bigger problem."
"What problem is that?" I asked.
"Respect," he said, with just a hint of bitterness. "Treating people with disrespect has become a way of doing business, a way of life. When a culture ceases to demand respect for life or livelihood, anything and everything is fair game."