(An Interlude — Sounds From an Edmonton Café)
THIS IS NOT A DRILL
TODAY I met Jonathan.
Jonathan tells me that World War 3 is imminent. Not only does he tell me it’s imminent, he tells me that WWIII is going to kick-off next month (November).
I like Jonathan. He’s full of energy (not unlike an atomic bomb), full of vitality. He’s enthusiastic, bouncy. He smiles a lot, despite his knowledge of everyone’s impending doom. Jonathan’s got Native blood. He wears a pair of baggy demin pants, a brilliant, bright yellow shirt and a cap from which his straw-like black hair peeks out. I surmise that he’s in his early-to-mid-twenties.
Jonathan’s from Edmonton, Alberta, but he tells me that he dislikes Edmonton, Alberta, and that he’s back in town “just to see my parents before the shithouse goes up in flames, and to get some money together to help me get started, and maybe do a little partying, man!”
He approaches me as I’m in the middle of writing, asking if he can use my phone to call someone (Veronica is her name — we get no answer, so he leaves a message for her), and then he asks if he can pull up a seat next to mine.
Sure, I say.
He tells me that he’s been living in Whistler, British Columbia, for the past three years, studying with Siddhartha’s Intent, “an international Buddhist association of non-profit nationally registered societies and charities, with the principal intention of preserving the Buddhist teachings, as well as increasing an awareness and understanding of the Buddha’s teachings, beyond the limits of cultures and tradition.”
Jonathan tells me that he’s been learning about living off the grid, the importance of a self-sustaining lifestyle, about the shitfest that is modern society, materialism, how the system doesn’t work. He’s also tells me that he’s been partying and vending — “I’m a vendor” — out in Whistler.
“It’s going to crumble, man,” he says with an endearing smile. “And what do people know about self-sustenance? People are fucked. What happens when everything’s taken out with an EMP? People will go fucking crazy; they’ll be totally unprepared and under-equipped. And what do they know about survival? After the panic, and when the Chinese and Russians are moving in from the north, what will people do? They’ll stay in their houses. Me? I’m preparing for this shit. I’m getting ready to live in the wilderness, off the grid. I’ve been learning all about creating off-the-grid societies. People live off the land. . . In War, food and water rules all. We’ll be competing with the grizzlies; everything. And governments, they regularly try to shut down these societies, all the time. It’s not just in war that these societies are created; they’ve been around for generations. But governments always find a way to locate them and shut them down. . . You must conform.”
“How do you know this is going to happen? The war. . . Is it Syria?” I ask.
“Not just Syria. . . It’s already happening, man. The US has already declared war. FEMA — you know FEMA, right? — on September 29th there was a drill, for like, three seconds, on televisions, on computers. It said Do not panic, this is only a test. They’re preparing for it, man. The IMF just added a new currency. . . One month. In a month it’ll begin.”
He checks a tablet he has, and then he glances at me and my laptop.
“Forget about your writing, man. Read up on this shit. You haven’t got long. That’s why I’m going to head to the Rockies, that’s where I’m going to set up the community. I’ve learned all about generating your own power, living off the land.”
“Okay,” I say. “So let’s say all this happens. And in the highly unrealistic situation, the 0.0000000000000000000001 percent chance, the impossibility that I go out into the wild and I happen to stumble upon you. What do you do? Do you shoot me? Am I your friend or your enemy?”
He smiles, hesitates.
“Well, that all depends. Do you have a gun?”
“No, I don’t have a gun.”
He thinks about it for a moment.
“Well, I’d say, hey, I know that guy!”
“So we’d be friends?” I ask.
“Maybe. In the wild, and when people are desperate, who knows?”
“But let’s say you get off the grid, you create this little society away from all the carnage and chaos. In this society,” I ask. “Is there law, is there a hierarchy?”
“No, man. No laws. Of course there’ll be people elected to a council.” He points to nobody in particular. “That dudes a farmer, he gets elected. Oh, that dude studied medicine, he gets elected.”
“But what if there’s a bad egg? What do you do? Bring back the catapult?”
He smiles, “I dunno, man. We’d have to have a meeting, decide how we address these issues.”
“So, here’s a question for you,” I say. “Do you believe that people are inherently good, or bad?”
That smile lingers, “I believe people are good, man.”
“So do I.”
“And people come together when they have nothing. Trust me, I know,” he says.
He looks around the café.
“Anyway, man, I gotta go,” he says. “It was nice meeting you.”
We shake hands.
“You too,” I reply, before adding, “One month?”
“Around a month, yeah.”
“And if it doesn’t happen?”
He fixes his backpack over his shoulders.
“If it doesn’t happen like how I think it’s going to happen I’m going to make my way to Banff and do a little work cooking, save a little money, do a little partying, before it does happen. Because it’s going to happen.”
He leaves, goes outside, lights a cigarette — or a joint — I can’t be sure which it is.
Me? I get back to my laptop.
So, today I met an interesting person with interesting theories. Maybe he’s sent the shits up me a little, maybe not. Anyway, let’s see what’s going down come November. If Jonathan’s right, you might want to try find him.
He’ll be somewhere around the Rockies.