“It’s for the End Times.” I looked at my calendar, then I looked at the clock. I knew I’d hear this sooner or later. It was March 18, 2011, 3:10 p.m. My first “End Times” gold buyer. It’s not unusual for a client to hedge global economic collapse with precious metals. If the dollar implodes, a roll of silver quarters might feed a family for a couple of months. (As I write this a roll of Washington Quarters, $10 face value, is about $270, and gold is hovering around $1,400 an ounce).
I’ve had customers who have danced around doom before. No one actually mentioned the Antichrist by name, that’s all. “Stand by for doom!” The old man rocked on his heels in near-glee as he took down my bank wire instructions. He was salivating for disaster, as though God was going to give him the personal power to save Souls or burn them.Whatever.
I’m in business, he’s a client. He’s not brandishing a burning cross or a gun. I took his order and kept my mouth shut. After the guy drove away in his Ford diesel with the rifle rack and mismatched huntin’ dogs, it started to bug me. I wondered if he knew something I didn’t.
I logged on to my laptop. Ghadafi had just pledged “no mercy” as a military coalition intervened in Libya. Japan upgraded the nuclear crisis, the U.S. House voted to cut all funding for National Public Radio. Nope, nothing alarming there. I unwrapped two pieces of chocolate that were meant for my customers as I read about dismal housing numbers, disappointing unemployment figures, our lingering wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Then I began to think about ‘olds’…You know, the news that’s decayed on the shelf. The suffering that lingers without hitting the front page. Once in awhile a news organization will come across a jar of old misery and shake it up to see if it still smells. There’s lots of ‘olds’: unfinished cleanup in New Orleans, Haiti, global fiscal insolvency, collapsed bridges, wounded vets, crumbling infrastructure, corporate tax evasion. Yawn. I’m doubting doom has much to do with who is in the White House: we traded an ineffectual oil-loving wimp for a tireless, professorial intellectual who tries to make his political enemies happier than his ideological friends.
The effect has been disarmingly similar, entirely disappointing, but not wholly unexpected.In Montana, on March 18, the legislature was in secession. Seriously. Same-o, same-o. My son told me he was going to live it up in case the Mayans were right about 2012. An uncle in the Midwest just got baptized in case there really was a God, and in case God preferred baptized Christians. He called it “insurance”. My own brother just bought a small fortune in survival supplies. I know, because I carried the boxes to his bomb shelter…I mean “basement”. Global, national, regional, personal. We’re no closer to doom than we were last week.Well, OK, maybe a little closer, but not much. Please, stand by.