10 July 20XX
My Dear Lucilius:
The oddest thing
happened today, something worthy of discussion that if not a sign of
the times, is certainly a sign of something.
As I have mentioned,
once a month I make the 150 mile round trip to the largest urban area
in my vicinity. The trip, when it is done, takes an entire day and
consists of a trip to the Large Discount Box Chain store for my
monthly store of supplies and a fill up on fuel. I will generally
use the equivalent of a quarter tank of fuel getting there and back
but the savings in food and the ability to fill my vehicle and gas
cans has (to this point) proven to be a value added proposition.
My shopping list
when I go is inevitably the same 90% of items: oatmeal, rice, beans,
potatoes – the sorts of staples that I always try and have a little
more on hand than what I need – and a small amount of perishable
items (dairy for example, or some kinds of fruit and vegetables, or
perhaps even some meat). My lunch out is always the same there –
their “classic meal” of a sausage sandwich and soft drink, my one
luxury of the week. I load my supplies, fill it and the gas cans up
with fuel, and return home.
This time however,
things were very different.
For one, it was far
more crowded than I had ever experienced on a week day (which I
consciously choose as the least likely to be full of people). For
another, they actually had posted limits on most items: one or two
at the most. My oatmeal was rationed to two boxes instead of my usual
three, my rice and potatoes at one bag each, and beans at three small
one pound bags each. Most fruits had already been picked through and
the dairy was the most reduced of all: one item each, of any kind.
Oddly enough, the
whole facility was quiet – the hot, ominous atmosphere of a Midwest
Thunderstorm about to break open, with all voices were in low tones.
The payment options were limited to $200, cash or credit. As you
can imagine, standing in line there were some heated disagreements
with the cashiers.
I almost skipped my
lunch but thought the better of it, given the circumstances. It was
my one luxury of the day and I was determined to enjoy it.
As you can probably
guess at this point, the gas line was equally as long – and
constrained. $50 limit on what could be spent on gas per purchase
per customer, which barely covered filling up my vehicle. No gas
cans this trip.
Which lead to a
second stop to which I had not intended to make: the gun store. My
budget for such things had already been filled for the month but I
had money left from the inability to complete my usual purchases so I
stocked up – and again, was confronted with the limits available on
the purchase of ammunition. The gun counter, from the looks of it,
would be out of whatever was there in the day.
The news driving
home, interestingly enough, was the banal sort of reporting that I
have come to expect from modern media. If there was a triggering
event, no-one was speaking of it in the media, nor was anyone saying
anything about it anywhere I had shopped. It is as if there was a
giant conspiracy to keep things silent, lest by speaking of a wicked
event it would come to pass.
I stopped on the way
home and filled up the gas cans, paying retail price. Not the best
value, but perhaps the best I can do given the circumstances.
There is an
undercurrent I am missing, Lucilius. I will scour the media sources
tonight and see what I can find.
Your Obedient (and
somewhat Concerned) Servant, Seneca