They stole through the predawn rain to the supermarkets for a chance to restock supplies for surviving the coronavirus outbreak. Several area markets are offering special hours for seniors to shop before the general population is allowed in. This is to give our most vulnerable a chance to forage for the things they need at a reduced risk of being exposed to the virus.

Many seniors, too timid to venture into the stores during the daylight hours when throngs of shoppers crowd the aisles like a flock of hungry seagulls, have found themselves unable to obtain very basic supplies such as toilet paper, meats, and even canned soup to sustain themselves.

I arrived at the Market Basket store in New Bedford at 5 a.m. and there were already folks waiting in their cars for the doors to open at 5:30. The motion of their windshield wipers gave them away. Steadily more and more headlights cut through the rain as opening time drew near. Seniors were allowed 90 minutes to collect what they needed and get away before the scavengers arrived.

It was mostly men at first, and then couples and women began to arrive. Some waited too long to get there and the coveted prize, toilet paper, was already gone. It went in less than 10 minutes as workers were attempting to unload it and place it on the shelves. I scored a 12-pack.

A man in the aisle with me asked if I would be talking about this on WBSM today. I told him that I would and shared with him my amazement at what continues to unfold before us.

"Kind of like a science fiction movie," I suggested.

He agreed and we parted ways in pursuit of fulfilling our survival needs. Concern was clearly present on the faces of most shoppers I encountered but I sensed no real fear. All appeared calm.

I saw no panic-buying at Market Basket this morning. People appeared to be taking just what they needed and leaving some for others.

Shoppers were mostly silent as they passed in the aisles. When our eyes did meet, it was for a fleeting second and then we looked away, staying focused on the task at hand. Time was running short and we had to finish our business soon.

With my resupply mission accomplished, I made my way back home in the darkness where I plan to remain until I need to venture out again.

Stay strong and stay healthy, New Bedford.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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