October 25

“Dear Apocalypse”

[The Advice Column for our Troubled Times]

 

Dear Apocalypse,

I think we can all agree, we’ve pretty much hit rock bottom.

Most of our cities are in ruins, the air is thick with dust (and maybe radioactive poison), most of us can’t scavenge enough food for our families (if they’re still alive).

And the weather.  Remember when we used to enjoy talking about the weather?

But as my dad, rest in peace, used to say: no sense in griping about things you can’t change.

But that’s what my friend does all the time.  Let’s call him Gus, because he’s the Gloomiest Gus I’ve ever run across.  Every since the Collapse, I’ve never seen him crack a smile.  He walks around with a sour look on his face, even when he’s not in active pain.  I do my best to cheer him up, telling jokes or reminiscing about happier times, but I never get a positive reaction from him.

In fact, I think my efforts sometimes make him angrier!

I’ve offered him some of my meal rations, which he might accept with a nod — but even then, it’s like he’s can’t stop worrying where the next dinner will come from.

I keep saying things can’t get any worse.  Maybe I’ve been wrong about that, considering that cloud of flying fire ants that swept through town last week.  Even so, I know you’ll agree that a positive attitude makes everything easier to bear.

So, what can I do to make Gus less Gloomy?

 

Signed,

Hopeful in Huntsville.

 

* * *

 

Dear Hopeful,

 

You sound like a grinning idiot.

Throughout your letter, mostly complaining how your friend’s mood affects you, I didn’t catch any particulars about why Gus is so sad.  What did he lose when the world ended?  Years of collected wealth, a comfortable home, a fulfilling job?  A pet, a spouse or child, his entire family?

Perhaps you never had such things, and cannot fully comprehend his loss.

All Gus has left, apparently, is an ingratiatingly cheerful friend who, once in a while, tears off a corner of beef jerky to share.

Leave the guy alone.  People cope with things differently.

Did you ever think that your unfounded optimism is your way of coping, just as his realistic pessimism helps Gus make it through each gloomy day?

If you really want him to feel better, maybe try to commiserate a bit so he doesn’t feel so isolated in his misery.

You’ll be joining him soon, whether you like it or not.  I hate to burst your bubble, Hopeful, but things are definitely going to get worse.

 

Signed,

The Apocalypse