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The Light Load: Supply chain gets personal — gravy shortage edition

Civilization teeters on the brink as biscuit essentials grow scarce

“’N gravy!” That’s “Famous Chicken ’n Biscuits ’n Gravy,” consarn it! (Photo: Shutterstock)

I like to think I’m an optimist. Things’ll get better, says I to myself.

So I didn’t go all Bevo meets Uga when the grocer’s parsnip bin turned up empty and my supper consisted of radishes, beets and other residents of the Island of Misfit Veggies.

I similarly zipped my beak when I had to keep driving a 15-year-old car because I won’t give up an arm and a pancreas to buy in the current semiconductor-free market.

And I was Fonzie-level cool when I couldn’t get a proper thermometer during all that COVID business.

But now things are getting serious.

“We’re out of gravy.”

That astonishing confession actually exited the mouth of Bojangles associate Trish — or Carlene or Val or somebody — during my recent visit to the drive-thru in the aforementioned rattletrap.

No sense of the gravity of the situation attended her voice. She had the tone you expect from a listless 17-year-old at Six Flags reminding riders for the zillionth time, “Keep your hands inside the ride, please,” or Wanda at Pizza Inn asking, “Would you like the buffet?”

I’ve endured a Taco Bell that ran out of beef. I’ve snagged the last edible-ish tomato at Walmart. And I’ve heard harrowing tell from FreightWaves Editing Poobah Par Excellence Kim Link-Wills (spell that last part “Willis” at your peril) about a chicken-bereft Popeye’s, raising the question of how we’re supposed to “Love That Chicken.”

But a gravy-free Bojangles during breakfast hours, when I shouldn’t even need to invoke the “Breakfast All Day Every Day” clause?

That’s messing with the wrong dang condiment. Or sauce, or whatever. Leave me alone, Pioneer Woman!

How did it come to this?

Where are you, Amazon? Whither, FedEx? Jump in anytime now, Maersk. No, eBay, you’re not off the hook. Heck, I’d settle for the Postal Service. But somebody somewhere has to be able to source and transport adequate volumes of milk, flour, sausage drippings, salt and pepper to my neighborhood Bojangles.

For crying out loud, I’m driving a car I bought the year “Blades of Glory” was inexplicably a hit, there’s neither parsnip nor thermometer for 500 miles, and now I can’t get a mini-tub of gravy with a $5 Cajun chicken and egg biscuit? Between all that and the growing suspicion that I’ll never be a teen model, WHAT’S THE POINT OF LIVING?!?

And the seafood will tell …

Speaking of gravy and disrupted supply chains, dead cookbooks tell no recipes.

Not one but two highly anticipated cookbooks (among the sort of folks who get highly anticipative about cookbooks) are now swimming with the fishes.

Grub Street reports that copies of “Turkey and the Wolf,” named for a New Orleans bistro, and “Dinner in One” by a New York Times writer were in containers that did an unplanned cannonball somewhere in the Atlantic. The ship hauling both books had been waiting for a spot to open up at the Port of New York and New Jersey when the weather started getting rough.

Don’t know about “Dinner in One,” but I wasn’t really planning to rush out and buy “Turkey and the Wolf.” Turkey is a borderline dish on its best day, and I’d think wolf would be mighty gristly.

Let’s see: “I’ll have the Lobo on Rye with wolf au gratin and a side of okra, please.”

Nope, can’t imagine myself saying that.

Not to fear if it’s your thing, though. The books will be available later this year — assuming Mother Nature cooperates, the supply chain clears up, Vandy wins the SEC football championship, “Mary Worth” suddenly becomes engaging and relatable, or domestic book printing becomes a thing.

The Light Load is an occasional look at the world of transportation and logistics through the eyes of an industry greenhorn.

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Steve Barrett

A copy editor for FreightWaves since 2019, Steve Barrett has worked as an editor and/or reporter for The Associated Press as well as newspapers in Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Nebraska. He also served as a senior managing editor for a medical marketing company, collaborating with some of the nation's most respected health care organizations and specialists in major markets in New York and Pennsylvania. He earned a Master of Mass Communications degree from the University of Georgia and a Bachelor of Arts in English and Spanish from the University of South Dakota.