But something was coming, all right, only no one knew exactly what. And Ray was already seeing a wonderful side of human nature emerging, the side which looks at a possible natural disaster in the making and thinks: How can I cash in on this?
"People are coming in and they want to buy 500 sheets of plywood," Ray said. "We're afraid
So the store was putting a 50-sheet limit on plywood sales, in order to spread out the supply, which was making some of the local hurricane entrepreneurs less than happy.
Anyway, as I roamed the aisles, I overheard a few customers say they had just come from watching reports about Isabel on the cable stations and were now officially convinced the world was coming to an end.
This, of course, is what the cable stations do best. Terrorist alerts, anthrax attacks, sniper shootings, hurricane tracking - they whip you into a frenzy, all right.
At one point yesterday, when I happened to turn to the Fox News Channel, they went live to their man at Indian Beach, N.C., Jonathan Serrie.
I watched him standing on the shore, the sun shining, the waves cascading gently behind him, the wind barely rippling his thick, brown hair, and I thought: Why is this man there? There is absolutely nothing going on.
It would be one thing if he were pinned to the dock in howling 110-mph winds and pleasure boats were flying through the air behind him and waves the size of small mountains were crashing ashore.
Sure, then let's go to our man Jonathan Serrie at Indian Beach, N.C.
Otherwise, let's go somewhere else. Somewhere where there's actually news.
Anyway, when I finally left Home Depot a little before noon, there was exactly one four-pack of D batteries left.
For a moment, I thought about making a grab for it. But then I figured I'd have to fight off the six or seven other people standing there, including two old ladies with shopping carts.
Some of these grannies, boy, you don't want to mess with them.
They look kind of frail and all. But then you take their batteries and they roll up their sleeves and give you that hard stare and say: "Put down the batteries, sonny, and no one gets hurt."
It's usually best to do what they say.