When you gotta go, you gotta go crazy
The spread of the coronavirus led to a farcical robbery this week. Call it the lighter side of social breakdown.
Hong Kong was shocked to its core this week by news of an armed robbery in the Mong Kok area. The shock was not, to be clear, in the fact that there was a robbery. It was that the buffoonish villains targeted a meagre shipment of toilet paper.
Such is the reality in Hong Kong nowadays. People queue all night to buy face masks, scream at journalists that ‘dogs spread disease’ (don’t ask) and treat hand sanitiser as a magical elixir. They also rob supermarket deliverymen at knifepoint rather than, say, order toilet paper online.
The goods taken by force were valued at a grand sum of about £165. To use the standard unit of measurement in the toilet roll industry, that’s enough tissue to dress 1.76 children as low-budget Halloween mummies.
Although there is a possibility the masked robbers were simply desperate for the loo, the more compelling explanation is the spread of an online rumour complaining that border controls were slowing the supply of toilet paper.
Rather like an unnecessary bank run, that became a self-fulfilling prophecy as desperate shoppers filled shopping trolleys sky-high with precious toilet roll. More difficult to explain is a similar run on Coca-Cola, but perhaps it is a sign of progress that the syrupy stuff is now deemed a basic necessity. (It goes wonderfully with mentos.)
News reports were quick to calm fears – the three suspects were arrested and, crucially, the toilet rolls were found unharmed. What a relief.