Caffeine-zombie snowpacalypse | Editorial

Natural disasters can be scary affairs.

Hurricane Sandy’s destruction on the East Coast is evidence of that. In this age, when our society and day-to-day business is extremely reliant on technology, it is especially disquieting when disasters knock out electricity, phones and the Internet. If it’s temporary and only for a few hours, most people can endure it without complaint.

But as anyone who survived the 2008-09 snowstorm in Western Washington, snowpacalypse, as we like to call it, can tell you, having to live through weeks and weeks with no power can be a struggle.

At the same time, natural disasters themselves don’t concern me that much. For all the grief we give the region for its terrible weather, particular during the winter when it should snow on Christmas Day and instead rains like its April Fools Day, we Washingtonians actually live in an area relatively free of natural disasters. Sure, we get the occasional wind storm, and every decade or so comes the earthquake that causes the books to fall off their shelves.

But we don’t have to have cellars or underground bunkers in case our home gets blown off its foundation by a tornado, or keep our houses on stilts in the event of flooding (unless you live right next to a river). While we had several major wildfires this summer, it wasn’t anything compared to the one in Colorado. We don’t have to worry about a hurricane ravaging Seattle, and if a tsunami happened to strike the left side of the Olympic Peninsula, well, would anyone actually notice?

No, none of those natural disasters worry me much. Rather, it’s the unnatural disaster, the unintended consequences of the disaster, that concerns me.

For example, in 2008 when the snowstorm hit I was working as a helper clerk at the neighborhood QFC, which was the only store operating that day due to its emergency backup generator. When I arrived for work after trudging through a foot of snow, I found a line of people forming out of the front door to the QFC and stretching to the back of the parking lot.

As I passed by them, I started to notice many of them exhibited extreme anxiety, restlessness, even paranoia in some cases. Their hands shook as their body uncontrollably shivered, but I could tell it wasn’t from the cold. Perplexed, I entered the store, wondering what had caused the Great Depression-like line.

I found out instantly.

On my right, the baristas working the Seattle’s Best Coffee were practically handing out coffee the moment it was finished. You could almost taste the tension in the air at the front of the line, where a crowd of people had formed by customers of the store who were attempting to circumvent the lengthy wait time. After conversing with my assistant manager, I learned our coffee shop was the only one working in the entire area, and since everyone’s power was out, we were the only place to get a warm cup of coffee.

Then it occurred to me. A natural disaster won’t destroy the Seattle metropolitan area. It will be the outbreak of a zombie-creating disease known as HCD, or hyperactive caffeine deficiency. Without burying you in all the technical, scientific jargon, essentially this is what happens when the average Western Washingtonian resident is deprived of his coffee for a period of time lasting longer than 12 hours. Symptoms include extreme irritability, perpetual drowsiness, lack of attention span, and unbridled anger.

Unfortunately, there is no cure, except caffeine. It is the sole antidote. If the victim does not receive caffeine within 24 hours, they lose all basic human social skills and seek out caffeine in a predatory manner, attacking anyone whom they detect has the slightest trace of caffeine.

If such an outbreak did occur, there would be only two types of people who would survive from the disease: coffee teetotalers, who would have a natural immunity, and those who have consumed so much caffeine they have actually stored up year-long deposits in their hip like calcium.

That, and the 90-year-old man and slightly deranged rural survivalist who still make their coffee on a wood stove using a percolator.

So when you start to hear reports of a snowstorm heading our way, and rumors abound of power losses, remember to stock up on your daily required morning coffee and a backup plan on how to heat up the water. You just never know.


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