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Jewish World Review Feb. 21, 2003 / 19 Adar I, 5763

Tom Purcell

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Consumer Reports

I'm worried about my people | Here in the capitol of the greatest country on earth, I'm worried about my people.

A little more than a week ago, folks were in a panic here. The terrorist warning was boosted to orange. There was talk of a "dirty" bomb that might spew toxic substances into the air. And how did my proud people respond to this latest unpleasant news? They made a run on hardware stores to hoard duct tape and plastic wrap.

But shortly after they began sealing themselves in, there was something else to panic about: the snowstorm. Forecasters predicted the big one was coming, which caused people to unseal themselves from their homes so they could hoard toilet paper, milk and eggs.

And for once in the history of weather prediction, the meteorologists were right. So how did my proud people respond? They started falling to pieces. Businesses shut down faster than you can Al Qaeda. The media eagerly reported fender benders and any other horror they could dig up. And people began worrying that they didn't hoard enough duct tape, plastic wrap, toilet paper, milk and eggs.

Well, I, being from Pittsburgh, love the snow and was out and about running errands. As I drove through the snow, I came upon at least a half dozen cars that were stuck in the snow. They were completely oblivious about how to get their cars unstuck - completely helpless and lacking in the "can do" American spirit - so I parked my car and drove their cars onto safer ground.

Though I have to admit: the incompetence with which the roads were cleared here was truly amazing. The beltway and major highways were cleared fairly well, but any secondary road was completely ignored; in the subdivision where I live, the roads have not been cleared yet.

But on Sunday, in the thick of the snow, I decided to do something about that. I found one of the massive plow trucks on the major roads and bribed him with $20 to come plow in our subdivision. When he arrived, he promptly got stuck in the snow. That's right, ladies and gentlemen, a highly trained government who was trained to remove snow for the rest of us was stuck in the snow. It took us an hour to dig the large truck out and get the fellow on his way.

Well, by the end of the week, the snow finally began melting here, which meant it was time for people to begin worrying about terrorists again. People are back at the stores storing up on the provisions they'll need to survive for three days in the event that their electricity, gas, water and telephones aren't working.

To be sure, folks here are hoarding water, canned goods, batteries, clothing, tools and on and on. But what puzzles me is why folks in my hometown of Pittsburgh are also in a panic. They're out hoarding duct tape and plastic wrap in the distant suburbs up there. It's as though Bin Laden said in his last announcement "We must kill all the Americans in Washington and New York, but first we must make sure the distant suburbs of Pittsburgh are overcome by poisonous gases!"

So, my good people, we need to relax a little. Or at the very least we need to keep our worrying to ourselves. Planning is obviously a prudent thing to do and, because we're not certain where the fanatical terrorists are going to strike next, we should all make contingency plans.

All these reports about us falling to pieces when the snow falls from the sky - all these reports of Americans sealing their windows, hoarding goods and waiting for the maniacal terrorists to strike - well, they aren't helping us in our cause.

No, we want to send a message loud and clear that we have the resolve to defeat these fanatics, that we're not afraid, and that we'll do anything and everything that needs to be done to achieve our goal. That is, after all, the truth of the matter.

Though I do have one tip for you: if you really want to be properly prepared for three days of self sufficiency, the very first place to visit is the liquor store. I understand they run specials on Irish whiskey about this time of the year.

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01/21/03: "Misunderestimated"
01/10/03: Republican night life
01/06/03: Exercise pills
12/31/02: They provide unending joy to those who are wise enough to let them in
12/13/02: Hurried Man Syndrome
12/06/02: In DC, snowstorms have important ramifications --- or, at least, they should
11/26/02: Police advertising
11/15/02: An Interview with Osama
11/01/02: How to vote in America
10/25/02: On edge in Washington, D.C
10/11/02: Giving new meaning to "selling your body"
10/04/02: Bush's Angels
09/27/02: Conservatives, Liberals, Dick Armey and Barry Manilow
09/20/02: Are SUV drivers are the new GOPers?
09/13/02: Bubba is Dubya's man
09/06/02: The Freedom to Picnic
08/16/02: Ah, the $izzle of anti-terrorist pork
08/09/02: Vacationless prez and gutless Americans
07/26/02: Study gives women permission not to hide their emotions
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06/07/02: Legal rights for animals?
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04/26/02: Zacarias Moussaoui gets expert legal advice

© 2002, Tom Purcell