I thought the apocalypse would be faster.
The Death Star shows up in orbit and “BOOM.”
The deity returns. The faithful rapture. The sinners burn.
Thanos collects the infinity stones. Snap. Half the universe turns to dust.
But 2020 indicates an apocalypse is merely a steadily increasing series of indignities ultimately ending in madness.
The latest example of this ill-fated year came earlier this week when something called a derecho decimated the Midwest with a trail of death and destruction across a 770-mile, 14-hour trek from South Dakota to Ohio.
Wind gusts measured at 122 mph, the equivalent of a Category 2 Hurricane.
The storm snapped power poles, uprooted trees, rended corrugated metal buildings and stripped roofs and generally smashed around like the Incredible Hulk in a particularly foul mood.
Many Iowans are well into their fourth day without power. Some utility companies say it may be up to three weeks in especially decimated areas such as Cedar Rapids and Linn County.
This is another below-the-belt punch in a year that has battered our collective groins like the men in “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”
We Iowans can take harsh weather.
Century floods? Been there, done that.
Tornados? Scary, but we cope.
But a derecho?
It’s rare for Iowans to have to learn a new word for weather. Most of us think “thunder snow” is made up.
2020 was already the year of COVID-19, the global pandemic that cancelled everything.
Adults worked from home which, after six months, feels like living at work.
The pandemic put more than 30 million people out of work, including your friendly neighborhood paragraph stacker.
This led Congress and the president to engage in fruitful talks to come up with a stimulus plan that benefited struggling America.
Nah, I’m totally kidding.
They did what they always do: Lock down in partisan bickering that accomplished nothing except give politicians a chance for demagogic bloviation in front of the flaccid press corps.
Racial unrest spurred by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody forced our nation to take a long, hard look at itself and a lot of people found our guiding principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to be empty platitudes.
We can’t visit our elders, who are the most vulnerable to catch and die from the virus.
Our go-to distractions from national misery are cancelled or jumbled up.
Some college football conferences are playing in the spring. Some are playing in the fall. Some aren’t playing at all.
The NFL is busy trying to figure out how to make more money off of all it.
They cancelled the Iowa State Fair.
I’ll type that again for clarity: They cancelled the Iowa State Fair.
There is no greater sign of the apocalypse.
My fellow East High School alumni were so discombobulated by the disruption in their annual gathering at the Bud Tent that they scheduled a series of alternative East Side Nights just to make sure they kept their Busch Light-to-blood ratio at proper levels.
Nobody wants to detox in a pandemic.
I don’t really believe the world is ending.
But this is a one thing after another after another after another.
A week or so ago, I went to make a deposit in an ATM. The first one I hit was out of order. The second ATM didn’t take deposits. The third one, the one closest to my home, had been hit by a truck and would be out of service all summer.
That feels very 2020.
At this point, if it started to rain fire and locusts devoured the fields, I would shrug and say, “Well, that’s 2020.”
The year shows no signs of improvement. The virus marches on and deaths are on the rise. Congress remains impotent.
And, oh yeah, the presidential election is in November.
The current president has suggested he might not leave office if he is defeated.
Maybe that’s more empty banter.
Or maybe that’s for real.
If nothing else, we’ve learned that our government basically runs on the honor system and we, as citizens, have foolishly entrusted its function to dishonorable people.
Regardless, the lead up to the election is sure to be filled with bile, lies, fear and loathing. And those are just the campaign ads.
A friend suggests Nov. 4 through Dec. 31 could be the most frightening period of the year.
I don’t think he was kidding.
In fact, I’m pretty sure he’s right.
And that really does scare me.
Cut loose and cashiered by corporate media, lone paragraph stacker Daniel P. Finney makes his way telling stories about his city, state and nation. No more metrics or Google trends, he writes stories about people and life ignored by the oligarchy.
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