ORIGINAL FICTION: "Sixty Days Next Year" by Chip Haynes (2005)

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You'll have to excuse me, but I don't usually keep a diary. These events began before I understood what was happening, and where it was all headed. It was only later, after it was all going on, that I thought that maybe I should be keeping some sort of record--as if no one else was. We live in The Information Age, or did. Now it's just The Dim Ages. Welcome to my world.

June 14
It all started (for me) with just a small item on an Internet news page, "Trouble in the Kingdom". I thought they were talking about Disney World (the Magic Kingdom) so I clicked on it. Turns out they were talking about "the repercussions of curtailed social services in Saudi Arabia". (Insert a big yawning noise here.) So their kids don't get free day care? Big whoop. I scanned the article for any mention of M. Mouse and then went on with my life. My mistake. No biggie. Really.

June 15
Yesterday's headlines are still today's news? I guess those folks in the sand are really upset about something--it was in all the papers today. Sounds like the Saudi government is in for a tough time trying to rein in a runaway budget--and the locals don't like it one bit. Now their capital (Riyadh?) is a mess with people getting ugly in the streets. Yeah, yeah, yeah, no more subsidized housing. Deal with it, people. Get a job.

June 16
I saw the news today, oh boy. Three Saudi cities are up in flames, people with big guns are going nuts, and everyone that can find a plane is leaving that country in one big hurry. It's like Saigon in a sand box. (Not that I actually remember Saigon.) Local news guys are talking about what it means to us--and our oil. Maybe I'd better go fill up the car before everyone else does. I hate being stuck in long lines.

June 17
Almost forgot to top off my tank. Would have forgot completely if I hadn't heard the guy talking about it on the radio on the drive home from work. The gas station was busy, but not bad. Of course they'd already raised their prices. The creeps. Some people will try to make a buck off of anything. The radio guy said something about us sending in the Marines. Sure. Why not? How many countries can we invade at once?

June 18
No work today, so it's grocery shopping and errands. Good thing I topped off the car's tank yesterday. The gas station was mobbed this morning when I drove by--and I think the price was even higher today. Geez. Even the grocery store seemed crowded. What's with these people? Is there a storm coming or something? I bought what I needed and headed for home. The errands can wait. Who needs this?

June 19
Ok, ok--I get it now. The Saudis have the oil, we buy the oil. The Saudis get our money, we use their oil. Big circle of life. Yadada, yadada. Huge article on it in the newspaper today, and it was easier to stay home and read the paper than try to go out and fight the crowds. If I'm lucky, this will all blow over before I have to go back to that gas station and deal with it any more. I'm just going to settle in and read the paper.

June 20
Back to work today. Kinda edgy on the drive in this morning. What's up with that? We have Marines all around our embassy in Riyadh now, and everyone else is bailing out of that country like rats from a sinking ship. I guess a bunch of big companies are shutting down and getting out. What's that going to do to the price of gas? Nothing good, I'll bet. Glad I've got a small car, even if it was all I could afford. The evening news is really fixated on this one. Maybe I watch too much TV, but what else is there?

June 21
Ok, enough already. I don't mind having to work a little to ignore the news evenings and weekends, but now it's all my co-workers want to talk about. Please. There must be something else to talk about. Sure, it's a big deal--on the other side of the world. But we're over here. What's the problem, people? Don't we have our own gas? Why is this such a major deal? Suck it up, folks. Get on with your life! (And stop bugging me about it. I don't care.) Ugh.

June 22
Oh, fun, fun, fun. Saudi Arabia is mostly on fire, I think. Something about their "port facilities and oil storage areas" being sabotaged yesterday. The oil tankers that were in port all left, some with oil, but most without. The US embassy in Riyadh was shut down yesterday as well, with the last one out bringing the flag, as they say. It was a little annoying to see the news footage of the locals dancing in the streets over that. (And let me tell you: They can't dance.) By the way, where do all those bullets go when they fire those guns in the air? Isn't that kind of dangerous?

June 23
I had to laugh over the evening news tonight: They were actually tracking "the last oil tankers to leave Saudi Arabia". Where they were, how much oil they had, and when they'd get where they were going. Not all of them were headed for us, but ours had the longest trip to make. Forty-five days? Something like that. There wasn't much news about the Saudis, and I guess that's a good thing. I've heard too much already. And the price of gas keeps going up, of course. I've still got over half a tank, so I'm doing ok. I'd say I feel bad for people with big cars and SUV's, but hey: they bought 'em! Ha!

June 24
Weird drive in to work today--saw cop cars at the local gas station. Did they get held up so early in the morning? The lines at the gas station are longer now, and of course do I even have to tell you the price is still going up? Maybe someone got mad and they called the cops on them. I'm going to avoid the gas station for as long as I can. I've still got plenty of gas, and all I need to do is get to work and back. I think I'll spend my days off not driving, though--just in case. Time to dig out the sneakers. Sure glad this is June and not December!

June 25
I gave that walking thing a shot today. Made it all the way to the grocery store, but had a miserable time hauling the groceries back home. Those thin little plastic bags were not meant for that. Next time, I'm driving! With any luck at all this will all be a dull, throbbing memory by the time I have to go back to the store (next week). Found out about the cop cars at the gas station, though: some guy tried to cut in line and got beat up. Whoopsie! His bad! Bet he won't do that again!

June 26
Gas rationing? What's that? Now there's only special days I can go to the gas station? Good grief. Even numbered tags on even days, odd numbered tags on odd days? How silly is that? One more annoyance. Do they really expect this to be a problem? Well, any more of a problem than it already is? I am so over this. Still, if I do this right, I can go another week or so before I have to play that stupid reindeer game at the gas station.

June 27
AAARRRGGGHHHH!!!! Somebody stole my gas!!! I went out to get in the car to go to work this morning, and someone had pried the little flap off the side of the car to get to the filler cap (which, by the way, is long gone). I had less than a quarter tank of gas left. Drove to work anyway, but it stunk. Why does gas have to smell so bad, anyway? Made it to work and back, but I was in no mood to be trifled with today. No gas in my car? This is serious. And now I need to get a gas cap before I fill up the tank--AND fix the stupid bent flap.

June 28
I stopped on the way home from work last night and got a locking gas cap. (The last one they had, apparently.) Spent almost half an hour in line at the gas station. (Lucky me--it was my special day!) Spent entirely too much to fill the tank, but that should keep me until this mess settles down. Backed the car in to the driveway so the filler cap faces the window. Like that might help. I hope whoever stole my gas got sick on it.

June 29
You're not going to believe this one: I watched a gasoline tanker going through town with a line of cars following it! Can you believe that? Come to think of it, I think some of the smaller family-owned gas stations are closed now. So maybe following that truck wasn't such a bad idea after all. I wonder where he was headed?

June 30
So the news is that there's no news? Something like that. The Saudis ran all the reporters out of Saudi Arabia. Bad influence, I guess. Makes it tough for them to report the news when no one knows what's going on--not that they let that stop them. Plenty to talk about over here: Gas rationing, long lines and the price of gas is almost double what it was a month ago. It's going to be a long, hot summer. At least I have the Fourth of July off. Big fat whoop-de-do. Hand me a sparkler and stand back.

July 1
An almost normal day, if you don't count having to drive around long lines at every gas station just to get to work and back. And the fact that every gas station now has armed security guards at it, just in case. Ah, well--it least it looks safer, and there's less hassle. I should be able to get through the week without having to fill up. Next week? I may have to face those long lines myself. Not looking forward to it.

July 2
Ok, so I finally wised up and dragged my old bicycle out of storage. The tires were flat, flat, flat--but I found the foot pump and about broke my ankle trying to get some air in those tires. Pedaled the bike to the grocery store. It worked better than walking, but those little plastic bags had to go. Bought a bunch of cloth grocery bags. I can reuse them. Much more better good.

July 3
Spent the morning reading the newspaper, and the afternoon riding my bicycle. Didn't get every far, but I'm getting use to it. Made it to the grocery store yesterday and went out and had lunch on my bike today. Could this be the way to avoid those long gas lines? Any day I don't have to face the insanity at the gas station is a good day. (Time--and money--saved!) I need to get a street map. There's got to be more back streets around here. Bicycling on the main drag is, well, a drag.

July 4
Independence Day! Mostly fun, right up to the end. Then I screwed up and drove out to see the fireworks. Big mistake. In the middle of all the "oooohs" and "aaaahs", some creep stole my license plate off the back of the car! I drove home minus the plate, hoping no cops would pull me over. So far, so good (made it home). Called the cop shop from home, and they said there'd been a lot of that lately--people stealing an extra plate so they could fill up any day they wanted. Man, that's annoying!

July 5
I now know just exactly what the last straw actually looks like: It looks like a dark stain that runs out from underneath your car. My car, specifically. In the midst of all the neighborhood fireworks late last night, someone (the same one?) came back to steal more gas from my car. They pried the little flap thing off again, but found that new locking gas cap. Did that stop them? It did not. They got under the car- and cut the fuel line!!! They got every last drop this time--and now I've got a car with no tag and no gas! How am I going to get to work tomorrow? Oh bother.

July 6
I'm going to call this my belated Independence Day. I called in to work and took a sick day today, then I pedaled my bicycle downtown to the bike shop. Bought a basket and some lights- and a big honking bike lock. (Trust no one.) The car can sit and rot for all I care. I've just about had it with that stupid car. From what little I've ridden my bike around town, I think I can make it in to work. Screw the health club.

July 7
IT WORKED!!! I actually pedaled my bicycle in to work today! It was scary, but it took less than an hour. My co-workers now think I'm a complete freak, but that's ok. I had a tough time not laughing as I rode past the long lines at the gas station this morning. So long, suckers! Not sure what I'm going to do when it rains, though. Get wet, I guess. Still, it felt good.

July 8
Got chased by a dog last night on my way home. Note to self: Bring the pepper spray tomorrow. Need to get gloves, too. My hands are taking a beating. Still, with those long lines at the gas station, this has got to be better, and I'm saving money left and right. According to the news guys, those last oil tankers from Saudi Arabia are still not halfway here yet, but who cares? No news at all out of Saudi Arabia these days, but apparently what ever happened there is rubbing off on the other countries around it--and they're all going down the tubes as well. Serves 'em right. Who needs them?

July 9
Whoever stole my tag has their work cut out for them: Gas rationing just went to once a week instead of every other day! Our local bus service is falling apart from the price of fuel, and now the school board says no busing at all when school starts next Fall! (Wanna buy a big yellow bus--cheap?) I see on the news that truckers are livid, and the Auto Club says for people to stay off the highways and not make the truckers any madder than they already are. Of course the airlines are crying the blues as well. How much longer before they just stop flying? Glad I don't have to go anywhere.

July 10
A slight change in my day-off routine today: Bike shop first, then the grocery shopping. Bought those fingerless "bicycling gloves." What a difference! Also looked at new bikes, but I'll wait. This old one works just fine for now. A lot less produce in the store today. They were out of some other stuff, too. That was odd. By the way, my low-carb diet is history. With all of this bicycling and walking, I'm really craving those carbs. Sorry, Doctor A., but I need lotsa pasta!

July 11
A good day to just sit and read. What would you like to know? This whole mess started when the Saudis cut their social services. They cut social services to make World Bank loan payments. Bad choice--the locals revolted and shut them down completely. They had to make that bad choice because they are running out of oil to pump and sell. Everyone is. The good news is that we can supply about a third of what we need domestically. The bad news is, we just lost that other two-thirds permanently. So much for this being a short-term problem. Maybe I'll buy that new bike. The long term problem isn't transportation, though--it's agriculture. Some people say our food supplies are going to drop dramatically. Makes me hungry just thinking about it. What's for dinner?

July 12
Woke up this morning to the gentle sound of rain. RAIN?? How was I going to get to work on a bicycle in the rain? I took a cab. After work, I took a cab to the bicycle shop and bought a rain poncho thingy. Walked home from there. (Had dinner on the way.) Made up a "For Sale" sign and stuck it on the dashboard of my used-to-be-a-car. I'll save a bundle when I cancel the insurance and stop making those car payments. Enough for a really nice bike. Hope the rain stops.

July 13
Still wet out there, but I rode to work anyway. The poncho worked, but it's a good thing that old bike has fenders! People are starting to get grim about this no-oil thing. It's been almost a month now, and it's sinking in: This is what life's going to be like for a long, long time. I'm one of the lucky ones: I can ride my bike to work. Even the car-pools are starting to run dry and fall apart. So are the buses. It's fast becoming every poor fool for themselves, and I don't like the sound of that.

July 14
Brought in an extra change of clothes to work, just in case. Plus a hair dryer. "Be Prepared" is my new motto, replacing, "Whatever". "Whatever" went right out the window when the gas got tight. Now I have to plan ahead for everything. I've got a vacation coming up, but where would I go? And how would I get there? (And more importantly: Could I get back??) "Why not stay home?" is my other motto. Makes life so much easier that way. I've become quite the homebody.

July 15
I keep looking at my poor old car and wondering what to do about it. I'm still making car payments and insurance payments on a lump of dead metal. Not one person has called about it. No surprise there, I guess. I keep watching the TV news, and it just keeps getting worse. Domestic manufacturing--what there was of it--is slowly shutting down for lack of fuel. The people being laid off are losing their cars and homes since they can't keep making the payments. There's rumor of work out in the country, but who wants to be farm labor? What's cotton picking pay, anyway?

July 16
Scary stuff today: Lay offs at work. I dodged the bullet, but some of my friends are history. What will they do? Move out of town and work on a farm? HA! They wouldn't know which end of a horse to milk. No offers on the car, but someone did try to buy my bike today as I rode in to work. I think they really wanted me to stop so they could steal it. Very disturbing. I'm keeping the pepper spray close at hand from now on.

July 17
A good day off! A friend came over last night and fixed the broken fuel line in the car. (A free dinner works wonders.) I scrounged a gallon of gas from a neighbor's lawn mower can this morning (and made them take money for it). Drove the car out to the dealer and sold it back to them. Got enough to cover the outstanding car loan and a cab ride home, plus a little extra. (My New Bicycle Fund?) I was lucky. I'm starting to see abandoned cars all over town. The city can't tow them all--where would they put them? I am now officially Car Free--for the first time since my 16th birthday. It feels odd, but I think it feels good. So far.

July 18
With all it took to sell the car yesterday, I'm doing my grocery shopping today. And I see now where the new employment opportunities lie: Armed security. They actually had them in the grocery store! (Apparently there had been some unpleasantness.) They still had food, but I have to tell you: there were some blank spots on those shelves. The produce was mighty skimpy, as was the meat selection, and there was almost no milk. What am I going to put on my cereal in the morning? May have to switch to toast. Oh, the sacrifices we make. The good news: Between the bicycling, walking, and this new (forced) diet, I am now officially in shape! Still, armed guards in the grocery store?

July 19
It's been over a month now since it all hit the fan, I'm starting to see some benefits to all of my hard work and sacrifice: Fewer people are managing to make it in to work at their regular times--or at all. I'm one of the lucky ones, which means I get to stay. Even my boss has been asking about my bicycling. Instant Expert, that's me! (And to think I almost sold the thing to make room. Whew. Lucky me.) I am seeing more bikes out on the road these days--and in the office, too. I'm such a trendy trend setter!

July 20
I no longer wonder where those stupid oil tankers are. They can sink for all I care (and take the Saudis down with them). I'm not going to see any of that oil, nor do I need it. The price of gas keeps going up--on beyond Zebra, so to speak. Who can afford to fill up their gas tank? The lines are still long at the gas station, and more people are going armed. (!!!) I've got my pepper spray, but I have yet to really use it. Got a call from my parents in Florida last night. They're laughing about the whole thing. Apparently they just drive their electric golf cart everywhere they need to go. Now why didn't I think of that? Oh, yeah: I don't have an electric golf cart. Very funny, Mom.

July 21
The car dealers are just barely hanging on--selling only the smallest cars they have and giving just about zip for any larger trade-in. The real money makers right now are real estate agents--putting people in houses closer to work! (Whooda thunk it?) It's like a giant shell game all over town, with everyone trying to move closer to work. I'm ok where I am--I've got my daily pedal down to about thirty minutes. Not bad, for a newbie. Now if I could just figure out the best way to ride out to a movie theater.

July 22
The President was on TV last night--FINALLY--to tell everyone what we already knew: That this oil crisis isn't going away. (The oil will, the crisis won't.) He was about as reassuring as he could be, but didn't really offer any great tips for surviving. (Like, hey--RIDE A BIKE!) I guess that would have been a blow to the auto industry. What's left of it, anyway. Maybe he would have done more if this had been an election year? (But what, exactly?)

July 23
I had to treat myself to a night out tonight. Went out to dinner and a movie. The bicycle lights worked well, but the ushers at the theater had to look through my backpack to make sure I wasn't smuggling in a bunch of food. Yeah, right. Like I'm going to pass up that over-priced stale movie theater popcorn. The late-night pedal home was surprisingly relaxing. The moon helped. (Well, that and a lot less cars on the roads these days.) Even the folks at the theater seemed friendlier--I guess they appreciated my business. With the money I'm saving not having a car, this might be a more regular event!

July 24
Day off day already? I got my grocery shopping done early and just went for a bike ride. No reason, no destination. Ended up on the far side of town, and that was not a good thing. Looks like some neighborhoods have suffered more than others. (Or was this side of town always that bad?) Saw some burned out stores that never made the evening news. Note to self: Ride someplace else next time. A quiet evening at home is in order, I think. What's on TV? I'll watch anything but the news.

July 25
Ok, bad news, good news: Bad news, I got a flat. But good news: I don't have to go to work today, so I have all day to fix it. I got out the patch kit I bought at the bike shop awhile back, and skinned a knuckle getting that front wheel off. Must have cut the tire on my adventure yesterday. (We'll have no more of that.) Managed to make a real mess on the kitchen table, but the tire held air--on the second try. Note to self: Buy a better pump. That ankle-biter of a foot pump has to go!

July 26
So now it's the electricity? The latest casualty in this on-going oil thing is our electrical power. Between the actual oil-fired power plants and not having the diesel fuel to dig out the coal, we're now being told to expect "rolling blackouts". I was going ask what that was--until one hit at work today and trashed my computer. How about a little warning, there, Spanky? If this keeps up, we've been told to expect to have to work "flexible hours"--depending on when we'll have power at work. And now there's no guarantee I'll have power when I get home, either. How joyous.

July 27
So here's a clue, just in case you were wondering: When the power goes out (without warning, I might add) IT TAKES THE TRAFFIC LIGHTS WITH IT!!! Man, it's a good thing I can ride my bike on the sidewalk! My ride in to work today became an odd dance with disaster: pedal up to an intersection, wait for an accident to snarl traffic, then pedal around the accident and off to the next intersection/accident. Lather, rinse, repeat. Here's hoping the power goes back on out there before I head back for home!

July 28
Be careful what you wish for. I had power all the way home--all the traffic lights worked--but no power at home! So how do you cook with no power? Bar-B-Que! It worked out pretty good, but took longer, of course. I'd better buy some more charcoal, just in case. Maybe start a little woodpile? Why not? I'm starting to be crafty about this. What do you suppose will go bad next? And how will I get around it?

July 29
What did I just say? No power for the traffic lights this morning--and then it started to rain! Hahahahaha!!! And I STILL made it in to work before anyone else! One of my co-workers was involved in a traffic accident this morning (what with no traffic lights and all), so the boss had to head off to the hospital. Hope they're both ok. I'm starting to see more bums and beggars out there--a new breed of "Nouveau Poor" as a result of this oil crisis costing people their jobs. My luck is holding out so far, but there's a lot of scary people out there these days.

July 30
That less power thing is getting serious. Now we're supposed to cut our electrical use IN HALF? Yipe! How am I going to do that? I've started by turning off all the lights and stuff that I could--even unplugging the computer when it's off. Is that good for it? We're running low lights at the office now. Nice, but dangerous. Lower lights in the work place might make for a higher divorce rate at home. Well, not for me, but for some. Funny how electricity and oil are so closely tied. Never thought of that before.

July 31
I bought a bunch of lower-wattage bulbs for around the house. Part of that "lower your electrical use" thing. Will this really help? Only if everyone else does the same thing. Tough to test them when the power's out, though. Went for a walk this afternoon, just to give the bike a rest. Lunch in the park wasn't so bad, now that there's so much less traffic around the park! Power was back on when I got home. Whoopie.

August 1
Big Adventure Day! Phoned up a friend I hadn't seen in over a month, and we decided to pedal out to meet each other half way. (They live about 30 miles away.) It took me about an hour and a half to ride over to the restaurant where we meet. They took a bit longer--or maybe they left home later. It was good to see them, but odd that a meeting that was so normal not long ago is now such a big deal now. We compared notes--everything's about the same all over. Life has changed, no doubt about it.

August 2
BAD ride in to work today. Some guy lunged out at me downtown, waving his arms and yelling. Was he drunk? Crazy? Or just trying to steal my bike? I hosed him down with the pepper spray and pedaled like mad--never looked back. I was frantic by the time I got to work, but at least we had power. Maybe we need to bike pool? Note to self: Buy more pepper spray. A lot more. Now.

August 3
The first of the last of the oil tankers from the Middle East are starting to arrive in North America. Since those will most likely be the very last--EVER--it is not cause for celebration. Some are only about half full. (Or half empty, your call.) We're on our own now, but so is everyone else. I've stopped looking at the price of gas--it doesn't matter anymore. At least the power is going off less--and I'm seeing a lot more bicyclists out there on the roads these days. (Hard to believe that I'm one, too!)

August 4
I tried something different this evening: I did a bit of mid-week grocery shopping. Swung by the store on the way home from work. That seem to work ok, and I didn't need to carry so much at once. Produce, meat, and dairy is still kind of iffy, so I'm learning to adapt. Also having to buy more raw food and less processed stuff--so I'm actually having to learn to COOK! One big plus: With all of this walking and bicycling, I can eat just about anything. Diets? We don't need no stinking diets!

August 5
Sat in the dark and watched TV. Big special show on how the Amish have managed for years without oil or electricity. (Sure glad they let those TV crews in!) I picked up a few good tips, but I'll keep my multi-colored wardrobe for now. And after watching that show, I'm thankful I don't have to deal with horses. (Bicycles are so much cleaner.) Went for a late-night walk just to relax. Mighty quiet out there. And dark.

August 6
Several people at work are talking about bailing and heading south. They don't want to have to face winter here. Never thought about that. Can I ride my bike year around here? That might be tough. I need to make some choices. Should I move closer to work? Get a job closer to my house? Or bail and go south? Mom says I could come to Florida, but what would I do there? If everybody goes south, will I stand a better chance of making it here? Or will "here" close down completely? Ugh.

August 7
Tough day off. Just wandered around and looked at how many local businesses were closed. Fewer cars, fewer people, and a lot less money being spent anywhere. Even some restaurants are closing for the lack of both food and customers. We've started down a slippery slope. Is there any way back? My job's good for now, so I'd better make sure I keep it. I guess, if worse comes to worse, I could always pedal my bicycle to Florida. HA! How long would THAT take??

August 8
Publicly, most folks are putting on a happy face and a determined act. Elected officials see this mess as a "great opportunity". Yeah, right. Are you riding a bicycle to work, buddy? I didn't think so. (The President has it made--he lives right over the Oval Office!) How many people are out of work now? Too many, that's for sure. What are they going to do? Unemployment can't cover everyone if everyone's out of work. Farms are hiring, but how will the migrant workers get around? It's the heat of summer here right now, but I can already see it's going to be a long, hard winter. I wonder if Mom really does have any room down there? I'm going to need a better bike.

August 9
Looks like a bunch of people did bail over the weekend. No need for lay offs when people just run screaming into the night. I wonder where they went? I'll keep plugging away here, but I can see that I may want to have a Plan B ready--just in case. We still have work--and can still do our job, so I'll hang on here for now. What would I do in Florida? What does anyone do in Florida? Right now, keeping my job is Job One. Keeping informed is Job Two. "Let's make Plan B" is Job Three. You never know.

August 10
Sounds like Venezuela just went down the tubes over the weekend. A huge work stoppage/revolution shut down what was left of their oil industry. We got most of our imported oil from them. With the fall of Saudi Arabia, you can make that "almost all" of our imported oil. But not no more. We are truly on our own. The auto industry is scrambling to find anything Americans might want to buy, while people like me are just happy to see a gallon of milk in the grocery store. I bought some maps last night. Can I get to Florida without having to go through the mountains?

August 11
Ok, work has now become a means to an end. I'll slug it out at work and bank as much money as I can. Spend nothing. Well, spend enough for a better bike, maybe. Work through the winter--if I can make it through the winter here--and try for Florida next Spring. I'm buying heavy winter camping gear now, in case the power keeps going off in the dead of winter. Not looking forward to that. How many people will die from the lack of oil? It's going to be brutal. I think I'll go out and soak up some rays while I can. Sure hope Fall holds off a bit--and takes Winter with it.

August 12
It's been almost two months since I read that first article about the Saudis and their problems. My life has changed totally in the last 60 days, and little of it for the good. (But I'm in great shape, Mom!) Although I still have work while so many don't, I'm still planning on saving my money, and maybe heading south next year. This last oil crunch isn't going away. This is it--our future with not much: not much oil, not much gas, not much food, not much power.

The Dim Ages.

Welcome to my world.

The End
-----------------------------
Copyright 2004, 2010, Edwin "Chip" Haynes

July 15
I keep looking at my poor old car and wondering what to do about it. I'm still making car payments and insurance payments on a lump of dead metal. Not one person has called about it. No surprise there, I guess. I keep watching the TV news, and it just keeps getting worse. Domestic manufacturing--what there was of it--is slowly shutting down for lack of fuel. The people being laid off are losing their cars and homes since they can't keep making the payments. There's rumor of work out in the country, but who wants to be farm labor? What's cotton picking pay, anyway?

July 16
Scary stuff today: Lay offs at work. I dodged the bullet, but some of my friends are history. What will they do? Move out of town and work on a farm? HA! They wouldn't know which end of a horse to milk. No offers on the car, but someone did try to buy my bike today as I rode in to work. I think they really wanted me to stop so they could steal it. Very disturbing. I'm keeping the pepper spray close at hand from now on.

July 17
A good day off! A friend came over last night and fixed the broken fuel line in the car. (A free dinner works wonders.) I scrounged a gallon of gas from a neighbor's lawn mower can this morning (and made them take money for it). Drove the car out to the dealer and sold it back to them. Got enough to cover the outstanding car loan and a cab ride home, plus a little extra. (My New Bicycle Fund?) I was lucky. I'm starting to see abandoned cars all over town. The city can't tow them all--where would they put them? I am now officially Car Free--for the first time since my 16th birthday. It feels odd, but I think it feels good. So far.

July 18
With all it took to sell the car yesterday, I'm doing my grocery shopping today. And I see now where the new employment opportunities lie: Armed security. They actually had them in the grocery store! (Apparently there had been some unpleasantness.) They still had food, but I have to tell you: there were some blank spots on those shelves. The produce was mighty skimpy, as was the meat selection, and there was almost no milk. What am I going to put on my cereal in the morning? May have to switch to toast. Oh, the sacrifices we make. The good news: Between the bicycling, walking, and this new (forced) diet, I am now officially in shape! Still, armed guards in the grocery store?

July 19
It's been over a month now since it all hit the fan, I'm starting to see some benefits to all of my hard work and sacrifice: Fewer people are managing to make it in to work at their regular times--or at all. I'm one of the lucky ones, which means I get to stay. Even my boss has been asking about my bicycling. Instant Expert, that's me! (And to think I almost sold the thing to make room. Whew. Lucky me.) I am seeing more bikes out on the road these days--and in the office, too. I'm such a trendy trend setter!

July 20
I no longer wonder where those stupid oil tankers are. They can sink for all I care (and take the Saudis down with them). I'm not going to see any of that oil, nor do I need it. The price of gas keeps going up--on beyond Zebra, so to speak. Who can afford to fill up their gas tank? The lines are still long at the gas station, and more people are going armed. (!!!) I've got my pepper spray, but I have yet to really use it. Got a call from my parents in Florida last night. They're laughing about the whole thing. Apparently they just drive their electric golf cart everywhere they need to go. Now why didn't I think of that? Oh, yeah: I don't have an electric golf cart. Very funny, Mom.

July 21
The car dealers are just barely hanging on--selling only the smallest cars they have and giving just about zip for any larger trade-in. The real money makers right now are real estate agents--putting people in houses closer to work! (Whooda thunk it?) It's like a giant shell game all over town, with everyone trying to move closer to work. I'm ok where I am--I've got my daily pedal down to about thirty minutes. Not bad, for a newbie. Now if I could just figure out the best way to ride out to a movie theater.

July 22
The President was on TV last night--FINALLY--to tell everyone what we already knew: That this oil crisis isn't going away. (The oil will, the crisis won't.) He was about as reassuring as he could be, but didn't really offer any great tips for surviving. (Like, hey--RIDE A BIKE!) I guess that would have been a blow to the auto industry. What's left of it, anyway. Maybe he would have done more if this had been an election year? (But what, exactly?)

July 23
I had to treat myself to a night out tonight. Went out to dinner and a movie. The bicycle lights worked well, but the ushers at the theater had to look through my backpack to make sure I wasn't smuggling in a bunch of food. Yeah, right. Like I'm going to pass up that over-priced stale movie theater popcorn. The late-night pedal home was surprisingly relaxing. The moon helped. (Well, that and a lot less cars on the roads these days.) Even the folks at the theater seemed friendlier--I guess they appreciated my business. With the money I'm saving not having a car, this might be a more regular event!

July 24
Day off day already? I got my grocery shopping done early and just went for a bike ride. No reason, no destination. Ended up on the far side of town, and that was not a good thing. Looks like some neighborhoods have suffered more than others. (Or was this side of town always that bad?) Saw some burned out stores that never made the evening news. Note to self: Ride someplace else next time. A quiet evening at home is in order, I think. What's on TV? I'll watch anything but the news.

July 25
Ok, bad news, good news: Bad news, I got a flat. But good news: I don't have to go to work today, so I have all day to fix it. I got out the patch kit I bought at the bike shop awhile back, and skinned a knuckle getting that front wheel off. Must have cut the tire on my adventure yesterday. (We'll have no more of that.) Managed to make a real mess on the kitchen table, but the tire held air--on the second try. Note to self: Buy a better pump. That ankle-biter of a foot pump has to go!

July 26
So now it's the electricity? The latest casualty in this on-going oil thing is our electrical power. Between the actual oil-fired power plants and not having the diesel fuel to dig out the coal, we're now being told to expect "rolling blackouts". I was going ask what that was--until one hit at work today and trashed my computer. How about a little warning, there, Spanky? If this keeps up, we've been told to expect to have to work "flexible hours"--depending on when we'll have power at work. And now there's no guarantee I'll have power when I get home, either. How joyous.

July 27
So here's a clue, just in case you were wondering: When the power goes out (without warning, I might add) IT TAKES THE TRAFFIC LIGHTS WITH IT!!! Man, it's a good thing I can ride my bike on the sidewalk! My ride in to work today became an odd dance with disaster: pedal up to an intersection, wait for an accident to snarl traffic, then pedal around the accident and off to the next intersection/accident. Lather, rinse, repeat. Here's hoping the power goes back on out there before I head back for home!

July 28
Be careful what you wish for. I had power all the way home--all the traffic lights worked--but no power at home! So how do you cook with no power? Bar-B-Que! It worked out pretty good, but took longer, of course. I'd better buy some more charcoal, just in case. Maybe start a little woodpile? Why not? I'm starting to be crafty about this. What do you suppose will go bad next? And how will I get around it?

July 29
What did I just say? No power for the traffic lights this morning--and then it started to rain! Hahahahaha!!! And I STILL made it in to work before anyone else! One of my co-workers was involved in a traffic accident this morning (what with no traffic lights and all), so the boss had to head off to the hospital. Hope they're both ok. I'm starting to see more bums and beggars out there--a new breed of "Nouveau Poor" as a result of this oil crisis costing people their jobs. My luck is holding out so far, but there's a lot of scary people out there these days.

July 30
That less power thing is getting serious. Now we're supposed to cut our electrical use IN HALF? Yipe! How am I going to do that? I've started by turning off all the lights and stuff that I could--even unplugging the computer when it's off. Is that good for it? We're running low lights at the office now. Nice, but dangerous. Lower lights in the work place might make for a higher divorce rate at home. Well, not for me, but for some. Funny how electricity and oil are so closely tied. Never thought of that before.

July 31
I bought a bunch of lower-wattage bulbs for around the house. Part of that "lower your electrical use" thing. Will this really help? Only if everyone else does the same thing. Tough to test them when the power's out, though. Went for a walk this afternoon, just to give the bike a rest. Lunch in the park wasn't so bad, now that there's so much less traffic around the park! Power was back on when I got home. Whoopie.

August 1
Big Adventure Day! Phoned up a friend I hadn't seen in over a month, and we decided to pedal out to meet each other half way. (They live about 30 miles away.) It took me about an hour and a half to ride over to the restaurant where we meet. They took a bit longer--or maybe they left home later. It was good to see them, but odd that a meeting that was so normal not long ago is now such a big deal now. We compared notes--everything's about the same all over. Life has changed, no doubt about it.

August 2
BAD ride in to work today. Some guy lunged out at me downtown, waving his arms and yelling. Was he drunk? Crazy? Or just trying to steal my bike? I hosed him down with the pepper spray and pedaled like mad--never looked back. I was frantic by the time I got to work, but at least we had power. Maybe we need to bike pool? Note to self: Buy more pepper spray. A lot more. Now.

August 3
The first of the last of the oil tankers from the Middle East are starting to arrive in North America. Since those will most likely be the very last--EVER--it is not cause for celebration. Some are only about half full. (Or half empty, your call.) We're on our own now, but so is everyone else. I've stopped looking at the price of gas--it doesn't matter anymore. At least the power is going off less--and I'm seeing a lot more bicyclists out there on the roads these days. (Hard to believe that I'm one, too!)

August 4
I tried something different this evening: I did a bit of mid-week grocery shopping. Swung by the store on the way home from work. That seem to work ok, and I didn't need to carry so much at once. Produce, meat, and dairy is still kind of iffy, so I'm learning to adapt. Also having to buy more raw food and less processed stuff--so I'm actually having to learn to COOK! One big plus: With all of this walking and bicycling, I can eat just about anything. Diets? We don't need no stinking diets!

August 5
Sat in the dark and watched TV. Big special show on how the Amish have managed for years without oil or electricity. (Sure glad they let those TV crews in!) I picked up a few good tips, but I'll keep my multi-colored wardrobe for now. And after watching that show, I'm thankful I don't have to deal with horses. (Bicycles are so much cleaner.) Went for a late-night walk just to relax. Mighty quiet out there. And dark.

August 6
Several people at work are talking about bailing and heading south. They don't want to have to face winter here. Never thought about that. Can I ride my bike year around here? That might be tough. I need to make some choices. Should I move closer to work? Get a job closer to my house? Or bail and go south? Mom says I could come to Florida, but what would I do there? If everybody goes south, will I stand a better chance of making it here? Or will "here" close down completely? Ugh.

August 7
Tough day off. Just wandered around and looked at how many local businesses were closed. Fewer cars, fewer people, and a lot less money being spent anywhere. Even some restaurants are closing for the lack of both food and customers. We've started down a slippery slope. Is there any way back? My job's good for now, so I'd better make sure I keep it. I guess, if worse comes to worse, I could always pedal my bicycle to Florida. HA! How long would THAT take??

August 8
Publicly, most folks are putting on a happy face and a determined act. Elected officials see this mess as a "great opportunity". Yeah, right. Are you riding a bicycle to work, buddy? I didn't think so. (The President has it made--he lives right over the Oval Office!) How many people are out of work now? Too many, that's for sure. What are they going to do? Unemployment can't cover everyone if everyone's out of work. Farms are hiring, but how will the migrant workers get around? It's the heat of summer here right now, but I can already see it's going to be a long, hard winter. I wonder if Mom really does have any room down there? I'm going to need a better bike.

August 9
Looks like a bunch of people did bail over the weekend. No need for lay offs when people just run screaming into the night. I wonder where they went? I'll keep plugging away here, but I can see that I may want to have a Plan B ready--just in case. We still have work--and can still do our job, so I'll hang on here for now. What would I do in Florida? What does anyone do in Florida? Right now, keeping my job is Job One. Keeping informed is Job Two. "Let's make Plan B" is Job Three. You never know.

August 10
Sounds like Venezuela just went down the tubes over the weekend. A huge work stoppage/revolution shut down what was left of their oil industry. We got most of our imported oil from them. With the fall of Saudi Arabia, you can make that "almost all" of our imported oil. But not no more. We are truly on our own. The auto industry is scrambling to find anything Americans might want to buy, while people like me are just happy to see a gallon of milk in the grocery store. I bought some maps last night. Can I get to Florida without having to go through the mountains?

August 11
Ok, work has now become a means to an end. I'll slug it out at work and bank as much money as I can. Spend nothing. Well, spend enough for a better bike, maybe. Work through the winter--if I can make it through the winter here--and try for Florida next Spring. I'm buying heavy winter camping gear now, in case the power keeps going off in the dead of winter. Not looking forward to that. How many people will die from the lack of oil? It's going to be brutal. I think I'll go out and soak up some rays while I can. Sure hope Fall holds off a bit--and takes Winter with it.

August 12
It's been almost two months since I read that first article about the Saudis and their problems. My life has changed totally in the last 60 days, and little of it for the good. (But I'm in great shape, Mom!) Although I still have work while so many don't, I'm still planning on saving my money, and maybe heading south next year. This last oil crunch isn't going away. This is it--our future with not much: not much oil, not much gas, not much food, not much power.

The Dim Ages.

Welcome to my world.

The End
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Copyright 2004, 2010, 2011 Edwin "Chip" Haynes

Check out Chip's upcoming third book here www.peakofthedevil.com

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