A gallon of milk: $7.59.
Outrageous! That was twice what I spent in town the day before. One lousy gallon of milk, and I would have to file for bankruptcy. Whoever was responsible was a rotten price gouger. But I didn’t have a choice; the potatoes were already boiling. I grabbed the milk, sulked up to the counter, and coughed up the money.
You see, my brother was cooking a meal for the family: ham, vegetables, and mashed potatoes. He’d already started. The potatoes were peeled, cut, and boiling on the stove. My job was to get the milk — you can’t properly mash potatoes without milk.
We were in the middle of rural Virginia, where the closest grocery store was a half hour away. I’d secured the milk the day prior, but I accidentally left both gallons in the car, sitting in the sun. Luckily, there was one gas station that stocked necessities, a few miles down the road.
When I arrived, I walked to the back of the store and saw the last gallon of milk remaining. It had a bright orange sticker slapped on it, notifying customers of its new, astronomical price. After purchasing it, I hadn’t even reached my car before the economic lesson dawned on me: I was extremely fortunate the milk was so expensive.
In hindsight, it’s obvious. Why wasn’t the store completely out of milk? Because all the customers before me didn’t purchase that last gallon. They were more revolted by the price than I was. And thank goodness, because otherwise I would have failed my mission. I didn’t have time to travel a half-hour to and from town. Dinner would have already ended, mashed potato-less. Instead, thanks to the price markup from the store manager, I returned home triumphant, with plenty of time to enjoy dinner. The final product was creamy and delicious.
The Bigger Picture
We live in a world of scarce resources. There just isn’t enough milk available to satisfy every human demand. In a perfect world, perhaps…