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to laugh, in retrospect

“Everyone who doesn’t live in New York City was issued ‘doomsday’ phones,” he relayed laughing, with a chuckle which we both knew was our sole consolation.

Both of us work in Manhattan for Fortune 100 companies that recently issued memoranda which essentially stated that it was understood if one had to suddenly leave should something occur that called for an unplanned departure.

Both companies also noted that employees should notify management if we were willing to stick around during a crisis to work.

Both of us agreed that ensuring survival far superceded taking advantage of any opportunity for promotion or to demonstrate our mettle, valor, honor, integrity, loyalty or any other so-called virtue. It was far more important and prudent to show such strengths after securing our futures first.

We both chuckled after admitting how depressing and frightening the imminence of it all was, for every city dweller we know consistently remarks how surprised they are that nothing has happened yet.

I took another sip of my Sapporo, my third drink that evening, three times more than what I normally drink on a weekly basis.

What shook me even more was that I could see the genuine fear in my friend’s eyes. He’s an investigative reporter for a major network, so I figured that at least he would be immune to all the hoopla and media hyperbole—to the contrary, I got the impression that being on the inside actually made it worse.

Then again, for all essential purposes we were both drunk and tired. So seeing the harrowing abyss in his eyes through my own dilated pupils surely merely magnified any misperceived anxiety being drummed up between two fools.

I revealed to my good friend that over the last two days I had assembled two backpacks that I kept under my desk at the office, each with equal stores of supplies for survival: flashlights, blankets, beef jerky, cash, potassium iodine (used to block the thyroid in case of a chemical warfare attack), Naproxin and Ibuprofen (should one have to deaden the senses), band-aids, a tourniquet, inflatable pillows, radios, water bottles, masks, and disposable latex gloves.

It all seems so surreal. I once thought I would never subscribe to the paranoia, but here I am practically preparing for the day after Armageddon.

I suppose ultimately such assiduous preparations may not make a bit of a difference, but nonetheless psychologically it stirs hope.

Certainly therapists are reveling in the windfall of work which has come of all this.

And one can only wonder if we will look back and laugh with self-deprecating wit, or if we will remember it all in torment.

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