Feb 122003
Authors: Becky Waddingham

I’ve decided the apocalypse is fast approaching.

There’s no other way to explain it: the end of the world is upon us.

This is a conjecture I reached after hours, days and weeks of grievous news, from the gruesome death of a girl just a year younger than me to the imminent deaths of American soldiers and possibly citizens.

We can’t trust anyone anymore; even our uniformed police officers aren’t really police officers, just sick nutballs dressed as police officers.

The United Nations is on the verge of becoming irrelevant, and so is NATO, if we piss off Germany and France any more. The one person I trust in the Bush administration, Secretary of State Colin Powell, has become a warmonger akin to Donald Rumsfeld.

Strangely, though, I’m not that afraid. I haven’t gone to Wal-Mart yet to pick up the requisite plastic sheeting and duct tape. I haven’t stockpiled enough cans of food and water to last three days. Actually, I haven’t even gone to the store to buy new paper towels for my apartment. I should do that.

The only thing I have done is avoid going home alone late at night. I’ve also avoided speeding (sort of) so I don’t get pulled over by a fake cop.

But shouldn’t I be completely and utterly freaked out about everything else? Shouldn’t the fact that the United States military has deployed missiles in our capital, my favorite city on Earth, give me more than just brief pause? Shouldn’t I be running through the sprinklers or something, celebrating the last few days I might have on this planet before we get nuked by the North Koreans?

Yes, but these things don’t happen because, like most Americans, I’ve learned to distance myself from the doom. Somehow, the 18 months since the worst terrorist attacks in history have made me immune to the constant perils of life post 9-11.

This is not because I am ignorant, or a proverbial Pollyanna. Rather, I think it’s because Tom Ridge and John Ashcroft are the boys who cried “wolf.”

Everyone remembers that childhood tale of the young shepherd, who sounded false alarms so many times that when the real wolf actually came to eat his sheep, no one believed him. I also remember the version about the kid in the swimming pool who cried “I’m drowning!” so many times that when he actually was, the lifeguard ignored him.

Our extraordinarily childish crayon-colored alert system has a similar effect. Oh no, it’s orange today…let’s all buy gas masks and hide in the basement! And then tomorrow, nothing happens and we have all this plastic crap lying around.

Didn’t the government raise the alert on New Year’s? Did they raise it on the Sept. 11 anniversary? Nothing happened on those days. I don’t even remember, and that’s the point. After a while, people will stop taking these alerts seriously and begin to ignore them, just like the shepherds who ignored the whining little boy.

But then I think, maybe the threat was real. Maybe the boys in blue and the FBI and the government did their jobs well and protected us, and that’s why nothing happened. Maybe they weren’t crying “wolf” at all, and things just worked out better than expected.

I hope that’s it, and the alert is another false one. I hope I can keep complaining about them. I hope I’ll be right and the government did cry “wolf.” That thought is the only thing keeping me sane.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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