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Nienke was in the hospital for a week, from March 30 to April 3, 2020. The hospital was full of pump bottles to disinfect the hands with. In line with being a focal COVID-19 patient collection point, of course. The bottles were fastened with chains. Apparently a target for those who want to sterilize their hands at home. It awakened in him the desire to acquire a pump bottle too. He listed the brand, Sterillion, and went online.

That adventure started with good cheer and reached its first milestone in the realization that all Sterillion was sold out. As so often, an awakened desire revealed that his personality is one of the average. If what you want to have proves to be sold out at the time of realization that is a defensible conclusion. In other words: around March 30, 2020, everyone in the Netherlands wants to have a pump bottle with Sterillion.

In the hospital, the pump bottles had a volume of half a liter. He had seen on the internet that you could make it from 80% alcohol. It seemed unlikely that alcohol would run out, so he went to a pharmacy he suspected would make hand alcohol from it and keep it available for sale. That was right. He was able to acquire a 100 cc bottle for 6.50 Euro. Half a liter came to Euro 32.50. He bought the 100 cc bottle, gave it to his daughter, and decided to see if he could make the stuff himself.

Back to the Internet. The 80% alcohol was sold out almost everywhere, except from a company in Ede, who found an order of 5 liters too small but was prepared to deliver 10 liters at 70 Euro. It would be at his door the next day. It was. In the meantime he visited a real drug store (no chain) and asked for the stuff you use to make alcohol into hand alcohol. For 3.50 Euro he had enough for 30 liters and he was presented with an empty half-liter pump bottle into the bargain. Quickly back home. On April 4, he had a half-liter pump bottle with hand alcohol. That had cost 73.50 Euro. But he had it. And he had stock for 19 more bottles. Seen this way, the first half-liter bottle cost 3.68 Euro and the second 100 cc 77 Eurocents.

It had been going quickly, he thought, scaling up. From country roads to provincial roads to highways, from villages to cities to metropoles, from specialists to chain stores to online multinationals and from mainframes to personal computers to smartphones. We already knew that this would make us vulnerable if our literary, musical, cultural and/or intellectual tastes get out of sync. This also applies to our potential for self-sustainability.