On March 3rd we celebrate a new world holiday called “Great Panic Remembrance Day.” Well, celebrate is a misleading word. The end of the world as we knew it in 2019 is hardly a happy moment in history to commemorate.
I have an etiquette rule about never talking about the past but in the spirit of the holiday, I will break that rule to tell you a little about my own Great Panic story.
It is hard to imagine it has been only six years since zombies took over the planet. In December 2018 it was just a matter of a few pictures posted online of a zombie-like horde somewhere in Central and South America. The pictures were dismissed as a Photoshop hoax and mostly forgotten… By January there were reports on fatal illness and related bouts of cannibalism internationally. It not longer seemed to be a localized phenomenon. In March the USA, all of Europe and most of Asia was plunged into a state of complete unrest.
Where I lived in DC, all city transportation was cut off, businesses were closed, and highways were jammed with people attempting to flee the city. Even my junior league meetings were cancelled! I worked as a management consultant downtown. My co-workers and I, who were accustomed to working all the time anyway, worked until the very end, even though our clients were no longer answering our emails or returning our calls. At one point, my co-worker came to my cubicle, grabbed me by the hand and brought me to watch a special report on the TV in our lounge. The news was on and the president, Hillary Clinton, declared a state of total emergency. It was an eloquent speech but the meaning was clear: there is virtually no hope for the human race. The government was being disbanded, and each and every one of us were on our own. That day — March 3, 2019 — was the end of the world as we knew it.
After that, everything was chaos. I ran home to my apartment, gathered my belongings (most of which ended up being useless later: cell phone, wallet, keys, etc.) and made a run for it alone. At first, my only weapon was my lucky polo stick. (In undergrad I was a champion equestrian and as part of my junior league outreach, I ran a “Polo for the Elderly” class; of course we used rocking horses and foam sticks.)
I ran south to Arlington and later to Alexandria. I barely remember how I lived through those first few weeks. Over time, I acquired useful survival skills and a rifle. Six months later, I met Mrs. K (back when she was still Miss W). A few weeks later we met up with Mr. K. By August the seeds of our little colony were planted.
The Governor (a former high school history teacher and part-time civil war re-enactor) believes it is important that we acknowledge our history, however bloody, uncivilized and terrifying. He says that the holiday marks a true shift in our culture: “March 3, 2019 was the day we learned we were truly alone. Somehow we have defeated the odds and managed to survive the most devastating disaster in human history. Today we honor our dead while celebrating our own survival.” (Sometimes I feel like one of his bored high school students when he makes one of these speeches but he means well.)
So every year on March 3rd we have our own traditions. Nobody works at all, beyond a couple of guards on rotating duty. It is one of the only days that we are encouraged to discuss our lives before the great panic. Drinks are poured, tales are told, tears are shed, and bonds are strengthened. The intimate atmosphere also tends to loosen everyone’s tongues. Last year I learned that Mr. Caputo was a high-level state department employee, who knew about the crisis back in the early fall of 2018 when it was just in Central America. He says that at the time, no one thought that the crisis would come this far north. It was assumed that it could be contained and exterminated.
This year, as a special treat to my fellow survivors, I am providing free toilet paper from my personal stash, to dry their tears and blow their noses. How does your survival group celebrate Great Panic Remembrance Day?
May we all reach the 7th anniversary,
How did you ever survive those first six months completely on your own? Do I even want to know?
In the early days, when I was merely surviving and not yet thriving, I ate a lot of rats.
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