I can’t walk through the grocery store these days without some wide-eyed, deranged maniac barreling down on me with a shopping cart.
You’ve seen these people — they’re half-crazed and on a mission. The way they shove their carts down the aisle, you’d think they were tackling a linebacker. You have to jump aside when you see them coming, flattening yourself against a shelf of soup cans just to survive.
When you least expect it, they’ll careen around the corner and stare you down for the mere sin of existing. If you’re not careful, they’ll wedge you against a produce display, crushing you and leaving you for dead atop a mound of overripe, $1.99 tomatoes.
But this is the world we live in. Everyone’s out for themselves, even in the supermarket.
People drive the same way they shop. Everyone’s out to get ahead — to climb over anything and everyone who stands in their way. People tailgate, cut each other off, weave manically from one lane to another and flip off slowpokes for driving 55 mph in a 55 zone. Shopping and driving are microcosms for the way people generally live: bitter, self-focused and determined to outmaneuver everyone else.
In that vein, I saw a movie recently on Netflix titled “How It Ends.” (Don’t worry; I won’t give away how it ends.) Forest Whitacker appears in one of the lead roles. (He seems like a nice guy, but he always has that half-irritated, sleepy-eyed look, as if the director asked him to film a scene before his morning coffee.)
The movie was OK. Basically, some catastrophic event happens that wipes out the power across the U.S. Within a matter of days, society collapses and people everywhere degenerate into thieving, looting survivalists who attack and kill each other to get to where they’re going.
In real life, that’s pretty much what you’d expect to happen. If anything, the movie was a little too realistic, and therefore depressing. As much as I’d like to envision an end-of-the-world scenario where humans don’t degenerate into predatory scumbags, given the way we shop and drive, the outlook seems bleak.
Similarly, “The Walking Dead” is a popular TV show in which human survivors navigate a post-apocalyptic world filled with rotting zombies. Now, maybe I’m a defeatist, but if society ever collapses and zombies swarm the streets, then what’s the point of surviving? Seriously. Let’s just wrap it up and call it quits. Humans gave it a shot, it didn’t quite work out (as evidenced by the aforementioned zombie situation), so let’s call it good. The end. Why wander around with biceps and a crossbow and try to reconstruct civilization? That’s a lot of pressure to take on. Maybe whoever is next in line in the food chain can give it a shot. Who would it be, the bears? The lions? Let’s give one of them a turn.
Who knows — maybe in the world they build, they won’t cut each other off in traffic.