I was still working last night at 11 p.m. central time when the federal government went dark. I shuddered. Hold me. Is this really the end?
The TV stayed on, but I knew it was only a matter of time before the nation’s infrastructure would collapse. How long did we have? Hours? Minutes?
I stayed awake for many hours, as long as I could hold out. I checked the windows and doors every few minutes for signs of disturbances outside. But everything was quiet. Too quiet.
On screen was Harry Reid, a name that sounds like a foot infection requiring a steroid cream treatment, declaring like Santa Anna that there would be no negotiations and no quarter would be given on the continuing resolution standoff. It’s only a matter of time before he orders federal troops to fire on the fake Alamo in Bracketville.
It was with some difficulty, after watching the disturbing scenes at the Ballpark in Arlington, that I entered a fitful sleep. Will the world still be there when I wake up? Is this the last night before the end of days?
I was awakened in the morning by a text message on my iPhone. Which was good news — the cell networks are still up! The nation’s fragile infrastructure has not gone to pot yet. I fired up my computer to confirm that the power was still on and the Internet was still alive. Wow, it’s as fast as ever. But I log onto healthcare.gov to see the first signs that zombies have gnawed through the trunk lines. And screwed up spelling and links on a brand new, high-profile government web site? That’s weird.
At least everything other than the site that drives President Obama’s signature law is working fine. There’s a chance, however slim, that we can outlast this apocalyptic shutdown after all. Unless you’re trying to sign up for a gold plan, in which care you’re screwed.
I peer out the windows to check the streets. I’ll have to venture out soon across town for recon and a car repair, and don’t want to be caught off guard by the packs of zombies and feral non-essential federal bureaucrats that are sure to be roaming the country by now. Granted, the shutdown has only just begun, and I’m about 1500 miles from its epicenter in Washington, but still…a man can’t be too careful. A lot can happen while you’re sleeping.
Nothing outside seems out of sorts. I see that that guy down the street with the weed problem finally mowed his front yard. Wait — movement! Oh, it’s just that jogger who never wears his shirt. He really ought to knock that off.
I gather up my courage and decide that now is the time to survey Austin for signs of life or collapse. I won’t reveal whether I was packing or not, but look, with the federal government in freefall it may be Mad Max out there. The Erwin Center may already be the Thunderdome for all I know. Maybe the Gulf has swamped Padre and is on its way to turning Texas into Waterworld. I’m not a man who takes chances with the cruel forces of nature and Barack Obama’s conveniently calculated tantrums.
My trusty Honda starts up without any trouble. I drive cautiously through the neighborhood, scanning for signs of trouble — columns of smoke, charred houses, cars pulled aside and emptied of their passengers, that sort of thing. Everything seems ok.
I reach the highway and, to my utter shock, it’s at a standstill. Maybe this is where the effect of the collapse of everything we hold dear has hit first. Maybe the partial government shutdown has somehow rendered all of these thousand of cars before me inoperable. Maybe I’m looking at the Walking Dead highway, and every car carries a zombie or bureaucrat lurking to get me. Is there no way out?
Wait, no, it’s just rush hour in Austin. Traffic here always bites this time of day. The government has promised to fix that for ages, but never has.
I drive across town. Everything is bizarrely, disturbingly normal. People are engaged in commerce. I get my car repair done quickly and cheaply. I get back onto the highway and rush hour traffic has cleared up.
I pull into my driveway and scan around me 360 degrees before risking the quick run to the front door. No signs of collapse. Yet.
But the shutdown is young.