Publisher’s column: Panic at the Costco — shifting away from the mob mentality

Jerry Raehal
From the Publisher
Jerry Raehal

In our relationship, my wife and I have some very distinct roles.

For example: She worries a lot. I tend to worry about nothing.  We balance each other out.

It was interesting, however, as the coronavirus news started to come out that neither of us were worried. Sure, we took it seriously, but we weren’t running to the stores or buying masks. That view changed last week when she made a trip to a store.

“Costco is scary,” she texted me. “If people aren’t panicking, going to a store will make them.”

One incident on her trip: My wife stopped in an aisle to look at something, a woman came behind her and hit her with her cart. My wife visibly stumbled, yelled out in pain, and looked back to see what happened.

The woman who hit my wife looked at her, did not apologize and just started shoving stuff into her cart.

My wife, who is probably too nice of a person (and made me write that there some nice people at Costco, too), was bothered by the lack of consideration this woman had for her by not apologizing, but also the lack of consideration for others as this woman — and many others — was clearly in panic mode.

Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” Apparently that doesn’t apply to people if they’re afraid of not having any toilet paper.

Coronavirus should be taken seriously, but at this point, a mob mentality of panic is a bigger concern. We need to readjust this mob mentality from fear to helping — each other and ourselves.

So how we can do this? Here are a couple of ideas:

• If you go to the store, fight the urge to buy everything, even if others are doing so. Buy what you need for the next couple of weeks, not more. If we do that, we should avoid shortages.

• Be considerate of each other in public. At this point, we’re not around each other that often, so we might as well make it pleasant. … from a socially acceptable distance.

• Take this one day at a time. The timeframe keeps changing. The truth is, we don’t know how long this will last, and I know that can cause its own level of stress. People’s jobs and businesses’ futures are at stake. That’s a very real fear. We cannot control the future, but fear of the future can overwhelm and control us.

• Stay connected. For some people like me — who is an introvert at heart, there are aspects to social distancing I like. But as humans, we have to stay connected. We have scheduled FaceTime for our kids and their friends on almost a daily basis. At the Post Independent, we’re launching a Happy 1/2 Hour webinar with our team to keep us connected even if we can’t be in the same office. Figure out ways to do so.

• Practice gratitude. In times of distress, it’s good to focus on areas of gratitude. I’m grateful for being able to get my work done from home, but also getting daily updates from my kids about their Lego challenges. (They are not interruptions but unplanned breaks).

• Try to find a North Star to get you through this. I’m also a big believer in seasons and reasons. We all have seasons of highs and lows, and while we’re in the season, we may not understand why. But all seasons pass and somehow make us stronger afterward.

• Stay healthy by working out physically and mentally. Stress will break down your immune system. Working out and taking care of yourself mentally are important.

Those are a couple of ideas but I’m certain there are plenty more.

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember we are all in this together. There is a ripple effect of actions, either positive and negative. We can control that.

Now, I have no doubt some of you will read this and want to blame the media. And I get that. We are told almost daily we are either doing too much coverage of the coronavirus or we’re not doing enough.

Trying to find the balance of informing the public is a tough one and one that our newsroom as well as our sister papers are in constant contact about. I’m proud of our team.  

But we also don’t control how people act. We didn’t cause the NBA or other sports to suspend their seasons. We didn’t cause President Donald Trump to declare a national emergency, nor cause Gov. Jared Polis to shut down businesses. We reported on it.

Some people read news stories and are fine. Some people run to the store and buy all the toilet paper. And some people say we’re causing a panic.

Whether you think we’re doing too much or too little, I can tell you we are constantly trying to meet the public’s need for information. And if you have ideas on how we can better provide that coverage, let us know.

Thanks for reading. Be safe.

Jerry Raehal is publisher of the Glenwood Springs Post Independent. You can reach him at

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