EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 27, 2012

Column: Riding out the apocalypse at Costco

Dale McFeatters
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — Face it, according to a widely accepted school of contemporary thought: We’re doomed. Most likely this December. For some reason, the ancient Mayans have become the accepted experts on Doomsday, but I suspect few of us have had an opportunity to sit down with an ancient Mayan to go over the data.

We don’t know how, but the Mayans have a date in mind: the 21st of December. If you live on the seashore, you may be driven out by a tsunami. If you live high and dry on a mountaintop, you may be blown into the sky by a volcano, and the little black particles that were once your body will block out the sun and contribute to a new Ice Age.

Or there may be a massive earthquake. Most of the country has been calmly contemplating the “Big One” that will see California slide into the Pacific, but a small earthquake in placid, rural Mineral, Va., shook confidence in the Mid-Atlantic, an area generally considered safe except for ravening bands of politicians.

There may be an electromagnetic magnetic pulse, or EMP, that will wipe out your TV, radio, landlines, Internet and wi-fi. Moreover, your car won’t start. Many parents may think this may not be all bad but, really, it would be terribly inconvenient.

There could be a nuclear war, which would be bad all the way around except for those who own property in North Korea and Iran like, say, the few North Koreans and Iranians left around.

There could be another hurricane like Katrina, a natural phenomenon that Republicans seem uniquely ill-equipped to deal with. You might want to factor that into your vote for Mitt Romney.

Surprisingly, the supply depot for apocalyptic survival — a movement dubbed the “preppers” — turns out to be Costco, an immense discount warehouse store for which I’ve had a fond spot since they sold me several carloads of premium liquor at their store in Oahu even though I didn’t have a Costco card. Who knew?

If there’s blinding flash in the sky or a tidal wave or a volcanic resurgence when I’m in Oahu, I’m making a beeline for Costco — and this time, I’ll get a card, I promise — and if there are any Hawaiian Costco employees hanging out in Bethesda, Md. when the oppressed 47 percent, looking like the cast of “Les Miserables,” storms Congress, they’re welcome to hide out at my place.

Like Y2K, merchants are quick to see profit in impending doom. An outfit in Florida is selling for $60,000 a 32-by-10-foot shelter to be buried 20 feet underground. It has bunk beds, flat-screen TVs, the amenities of a small apartment, although how many families are going to survive for long sequestered in a space of 320-square feet? Not many, unless they’re from Manhattan.

The shelter question brought back happy memories of the 1950s when in preparation for nuclear war, we debated whether to let desperate families, who had made no preparations, into our well-equipped A-bomb shelters.

The consensus was, yeah, let them in and we’ll work something out, but we were a sturdier, less selfish breed of American then, still basking in the glow of our parents, the Greatest Generation.

Now the consensus, thanks to “stand your ground” and “your home is your castle” laws, is to gun them down on the doorstep.

Costco is offering canned food with a shelf life of 25 years. It also offers 6,671 servings of gluten free vegetarian food for $1,799, among other tasteless-sounding products with the shelf life of pizza in the refrigerator of a college dorm.

If nothing happens on Dec. 21 and the likely Ball State vs. Troy matchup at the Beef O’Brady Bowl goes on as scheduled, there will be only three shopping days left until Christmas. For the swain who shows up on the doorstep of his abandoned girlfriend — limited space in the shelter, you know — with a sheepish smile on his face and a 433-serving bucket of brown rice in his hand, Dec. 25 could well be the end of the world.

Dale McFeatters writes for the Scripps Howard News Service.