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As the pandemic wears on Americans, mild disappointments lead to bad behavior.

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Nerves at the grocery retailer had been already frayed, in the manner of this stuff as the pandemic slouches towards its third yr, when the buyer arrived. He needed Cambozola, a kind of blue cheese. He had been cooped up for a very long time. He scoured the dairy space; nothing. He flagged down an worker who additionally didn’t see the cheese. He demanded that she hunt in the again and look it up on the retailer laptop. No luck.

And then he misplaced it, simply one other out-of-control member of the nice refrain of American shopper outrage, 2021 model.

“Have you seen a man in his 60s have a full temper tantrum because we don’t have the expensive imported cheese he wants?” stated the worker, Anna Luna, who described the temper at the retailer, in Minnesota, as “angry, confused and fearful.”

“You’re looking at someone and thinking, ‘I don’t think this is about the cheese.’”

It is an odd, unsure second, particularly with Omicron tearing via the nation. Things really feel damaged. The pandemic looks as if a Möbius strip of bad information. Companies hold suspending back-to-the-office dates. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention retains altering its guidelines. Political discord has calcified into political hatred. And when folks have to meet one another in transactional settings — in shops, on airplanes, over the cellphone on customer-service calls — they’re, in the phrases of Ms. Luna, “devolving into children.”