Note: In lieu of a regular column, Scott Hollifield this week submitted these journal entries, a detailed account of his against-all-odds struggle for survival during The Great 60-Hour Government Shutdown of 2018, writings that provide a harrowing glimpse of one man’s descent into madness.
Hour one: It is upon us. The shutdown. Should anyone in the future read this, once some sort of civilization has returned, let them know I was prepared for the worst, secured in my fortified bunker with weapons, ammunition, 47 cans of pork ‘n’ beans and the Johnny Cash Sun Records boxed set.
As our nation plunges into darkness because two warring factions cannot compromise and find common ground for the good of the people, let us remember the wise words of some of our past leaders like Abraham Lincoln, who said “A house divided against itself cannot stand” or Bill Clinton, who said, “I like to call it the Oh!-val Office” or George W. Bush, who said, “There's an old saying in Tennessee -- I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee -- that says, fool me once, shame on -- shame on you. Fool me... you can't get fooled again.”
Wise words, indeed.
Hour four: As I write this, the outlook grows dimmer for our country with each tick of the clock. While Americans are still able to send mail, receive Social Security benefits, travel by train or plane and visit most national parks and landmarks, there is talk of shutting off the Panda Cam at the National Zoo, which provides 24-hour live streaming video of lovable the pandas named Tian Tian, Bei Bei and Mei Xiang.
Do I really want to live in a world where I can’t wake up at 3 a.m., pop a pod into the Keurig, switch on the computer machine and say, “I wonder what ol’ Tian Tian is up to?”
It’s a grim vision of the future, but I know that I must carry on and see this through to the end.
Hour 15: After finishing off the last of the pork ‘n’ beans, I fell into a fitful sleep, dreaming of a fiery apocalypse where roaming bands of cannibal bikers and pandas denied my entry into national parks and monuments.
Damn you, shutdown!
I awoke with a start, then checked and rechecked my weapons, wondering if it was safe to emerge from my bunker to scavenge for more pork ‘n’ beans, finally deciding to stay put and wait once again for the cover of darkness.
“I had planned to go to the Library of Congress,” I sadly said to myself, “and continue my research into 19 th century erotic oil paintings. But I won’t be doing that. No, not today. Instead, I’ll just be trying to stay alive.”
Hour 30: The media sage known as Wolf Blitzer warns there is no end in sight. The warring factions speak with bluster, each side blaming the other for the hell this shutdown has wrought.
Thankfully, the Panda Cam is still on and I find solace in the comings and goings of Tian Tian. The pandas are so innocent of the political machinations of their human overlords. Still, I wonder when they will turn on their keepers and rip them to shreds, an outcome that grows ever more likely as the shutdown continues.
Hour 42: I crave pork ‘n’ beans.
Hour 51: After an uneventful trip to the grocery store, I have replenished my stock of pork ‘n’ beans. Strangely, the outside world seemed unaffected by the government shutdown. Traffic lights worked. Currency still retained most of its value. Roaming bands of cannibal bikers and pandas were nowhere to be seen.
Hour 60: And it’s over. What a rip off.
Scott Hollifield is editor/GM of The McDowell News in Marion, N.C. and a humor columnist. Contact him at email@example.com.