Armageddon? It’s in the bag | AspenTimes.com
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Armageddon? It’s in the bag

Barry Smith

“Could I get a bag for this?” the customer asked the guy behind the register, thus fulfilling the prophecies that the end times are now upon us.I was sitting very close to the cash register, so I had a good seat for this heralding of the crashing of civilization. The couple finished up their sandwiches and were all the way to the door when the man stopped and walked back to the register. In his hand he held a tiny, unopened bag of potato chips, one of those that typically contains about six actual chips.He wanted a bag for it.Let us watch closely as the bewildered cashier takes the small bag of chips from the man and places it in a medium-sized brown paper bag, which the café would usually use to pack takeout orders in, and hands it back to the man, who then mumbles some thanks and walks out into the world with his bag of bag of chips. Notice the ease with which the human species, in all its consuming glory, has in that very act peaked and begun a rocketing downhill slide.”Excuse me,” I said to the cashier, after the harbinger of destruction had left the premises. “Did that man just ask for a bag in which to carry his chips, which actually come conveniently packed in a bag already? Please feel free to tell me I was hallucinating, because that would be easier for me to handle.””Yeah,” said the cashier. “He sure did.””Interesting,” I replied. “Say, are those locusts I see raining from the sky?””Yep, those sure look like locusts … “Now, perhaps my finger-pointing is uncalled-for. Perhaps this man was not a thoughtless person who could have just as easily left the chips behind or put them in the pocket of his large coat or even shoved them all into this mouth in one go. Perhaps he was not the one prophesied to unleash the four winds of destruction and cause blood to run in the streets as high as a horses bridle. Maybe, just maybe, there is some societal more specific to his home town, that, for obscure and long-forgotten historical reasons, makes it uncouth to carry an exposed bag of Lay’s down the sidewalk. Or maybe his religion dictates that it’s a mortal sin to walk northbound while carrying deep fried potato slices with fewer than two layers of protection between him and the salty wafers. No, I know – maybe his parents were killed in a freak accident involving loosely transported potato chips, and now, despite years of therapy, he just can’t have enough bags around his chips when he walks, and he has in fact just recently had a major breakthrough in his recovery process, and had this incident happened a month ago, he would have actually asked the cashier if he wouldn’t mind welding his tiny bag of leftover chips into a large steel drum.Or maybe he was planning on making some other purchases after lunch and thought that one sturdy, easily recyclable paper bag would be the most efficient and environmentally friendly way to transport his goods, and that by getting one now he would do away with the need for having his additional purchases to be placed in little individual plastic bags. And, what the heck, as long as he has a bag, he may as well put the chips in there, right?Yeah, that must be it. I must have been imagining all that other humans-are-over-consuming-pigs-and-will-all-soon-perish-in-a-biblical-proportioned-landfill-of-our-own-making stuff.I raised my plastic fork to my mouth, and looked down at the paper plate that my food was arranged on. Then I looked up and saw the big garbage can, the one brimming with discarded forks and plates, the one I’d soon add to. Then I looked out the window again.”Excuse me,” I asked the cashier. “Am I mistaken, or has the sun been blotted out and the moon turned to blood?””Sure looks that way,” he replied. “Lot more frogs outside than usual, too.””OK,” I said. “Just checking. Guess I should probably have some dessert, then.”


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