It’s October 13, 2021. Imagine yourself in the East Room of the White House. Next thing you know, the president of the United States of America enters, somberly says “Please, sit down,” then states, “I know you’re hearing a lot about something called ‘supply chains’ and how hard it is to get a range of things, from a toaster to sneakers to a bicycle to bedroom furniture.”
Now stop imagining. This just happened on Wednesday. Possibly using advanced analytics from the NORAD Santa Tracker, POTUS all but confirmed 2021 holiday gift shortages. So now what?
Unless you want to be the one to tell Cindy Lou Who that she’s not getting that LEGO Baby Yoda building kit this year, allow us to suggest a different kind of holiday shopping excursion.
Be advised that our radical vision involves negotiating with dockworkers, and possibly a flotilla of small boats surging into San Pedro Bay and the Los Angeles River to rendezvous with the numerous cargo and container ships that are now anchored and sitting outside the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
This is not a drill, people. Walmart got to be Walmart by foreseeing such things, as did Target, Costco, Dollar Tree and other ranking retailers. In a situation that Reuters recently dubbed ‘Containergeddon’, these and other big chains chartered their own ships to bring items in.
No one agrees how many vessels are now parked off the coast of California, many of which are bearing gifts. It hovers between 50 and 150 — but it’s usually more like zero, according to port officials.
The problem is that they can’t dock and unload – plus, there’s a truck shortage further complicating matters. Applauding the port and big retailers for 24/7 freight movement, it may not be enough.
We want those gifts, and we will have them, one way or another. We suggest a workaround.
Ready your lifejackets and P2P apps. We’re pulling a Brando and going “on the waterfront” for a decidedly different holiday shopping experience. And don’t forget cash (bribe-takers prefer it).
Trade Like a Phoenician
If you want that pair of “Bluebird” Air Jordan 5 sneakers — or even a new toaster, as the president forewarned — how about going to the docks yourself for some DIY gift-buying?
Remember the olden days of 2019 and before? Black Friday drew throngs of shoppers who waited overnight outside stores for sale-priced flat screens. This will be like that – but with ships.
The Phoenicians did it in 3000 BCE. How hard can it be?
Several thousand people would enter the port complex with the dignity associated with swarms of holiday shoppers — which is to say, little or none — as people quickly take a visual inventory of which containers have what inside. Toys in this one, electronics in that one, etc.
Then it’s deal-making time. Ever try to make an on-the-spot buy of, say, a bedroom set with a longshoreman or stevedore? One wrong look and you’re finished. As others push in behind you, time will be of the essence. Just pay the asking price and move on. Don’t make eye contact.
We imagine it’s a bit like dealing with the infamous “Soup Nazi” made famous by “Seinfeld.”
Look, we’re not saying it’s a good idea. At least we’re trying.
Of Sailing Ships and High-Seas Gifts
In these situations, one needs a backup plan. That’s where the armada of dinghies comes in.
As crowds rummage through containers already on the dock, a handful of hearty souls could set out in a fleet of small boats to meet the ships that have yet to moor.
Untold riches await, for those brave and dumb enough to attempt this.
Boarding may be a problem — ship captains and crews tend to frown on it — so bring a megaphone. Make an offer they can’t refuse. Do what you must. Remember the shortages.
As recently reported by Today, “Unfortunately for parents, holiday shopping in 2021 may prove even more challenging than it was in 2020. A new survey from professional services firm KPMG reveals that there may be a major shortage of toys and other inventory this holiday season.”
That’s why, in this scenario, you’re now in a rowboat off L.A., using Google Translate to parley with a Portuguese ship captain for boarding (and shopping) privileges.
Is it worth it? Ask your significant other. Ask your mom. Ask your cat. Now you get it.
Could you be reported for piracy for buying a pallet of Glo Pixies Dolls because that’s the only amount the crew is willing to discuss? Yes. But if you make it back to shore, you’re a hero.
We wish you good luck with this mad plan. We can’t be there. Journalistic integrity and all that.