Brother, Can You Spare an Xbox 360 Controller, Wireless?
Seriously man, if you're going to give me an Xbox 360 controller, don't embarrass me and give me your old plug-in one. How am I going to look with that silly old-fashioned thing, all tethered up to the box?
According to the news reports and our new, very timid Secretary of the Treasury, we're all about to hit the skids. Economists have never looked so frightened. We're talking Hobo Nation all over again, worse than the 1930s, when people ate dirt for the nutrients. My grandpa told me that he and his brothers loved it when road crews were working around his town because the fresh lumps of tar left behind could be broken up into little pieces of chewing gum. My grandma told me that random guys would just show up at the back door of her childhood home and offer to do chores in exchange for a meal. The deal struck, the man might eat with the family when he finished trimming a tree or raking leaves; tell his story, thanks kindly, movin' on.
The New Depression might be a little different.
We've grown accustomed to a few things here in America since ol' FDR single-handedly rescued our nation from economic doom, freed the slaves, beat the Nazis and then walked on the moon.
Today, Americans don't just expect running water (and it'd better be hot), we also NEED air-conditioning, heat, a couple of decent cars, at least half-a-tank of gas, Internet, cable TV, Xbox Live, a cell phone with web access, three meals a day, a swimming pool, college tuition, a yard service, decent clothes, GPS assistance, our exacting and particular concoction of coffee... now, affordable healthcare, a good-paying job, football on the weekends, football whenever we demand it on our DVRs, freedom from disease, good roads, American Idols, great public transportation, a savings account, a world-class mattress, a need to keep it Green, retirement, season tickets, stories about monkeys mauling people (with actual 911 audio), a national championship, two weeks of vacation time, value for our dollar and world peace. And a jetpack.
I'm wondering what we are going to give up if the situation gets as bad as they say it could. If the choice came down to paying the rent or going out for sushi, I'm afraid many of us would choose the sushi. I think the America of today is far removed from that old 1930s, pre-air conditioned America. We've had it very good for a good long time, and a bunch of people who've never done it might have to learn the hard way how to have it no-so-good.
"If the choice came down to paying the rent or going out for sushi, I'm afraid many of us would choose the sushi."
When Hurricane Katrina struck and the images of the poor of New Orleans flooded the airwaves, it was if a curtain had been pulled back. Here were streets filled with people, and the streets were filled with water to the peoples' chests, and they're all on the move, trying to survive, looking like some third-world vision many Americans had never imagined existed within our borders. That was like a glimpse, a warning. The poor people learned a long time ago to do without. And stay without. And stay out of sight.
In the coming storm some are forecasting, many of us will recall our own leaner days and remember what we did back then to make it. Maybe you ate ramen in college, or rice and beans. Maybe you didn't have the full-blown cable package. Maybe you rented out a room. Maybe you bummed a ride. You might have to do those things again. Lower the heat, put on a sweater. Eat till you aren't hungry, not till you're stuffed.
Sadly, many of us might be getting ready to learn to do without for the first time. Those are the people who will have it the hardest. They will not take it well. It could be like the old Crash, with people jumping from windows and worse. It will be hard to be merciful and helpful to the once spoiled, now ruined millionaire, but it may be what we're called upon to be. People are going to be forced from their isolation. We are going to have to open the doors and windows of the little castles of comfort we've built for ourselves and let some air in, since we cut back on cooling costs.
And that random guy is probably going to show up at the back door again. Lost his job, wife took the kids to live with her parents when they lost the house, then he was trying to do odd jobs to scrape up some cash to Western Union to them, now he's just trying to scrape up a meal.
Make sure he's not armed, put him to work, watch him closely, and feed him.