The Moment of Truth — December 6, 2008

Twenty-one Tips for Surviving the New Economy

Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the “Free to Be You and Me” of the Third Millennium. And that does indeed make me the Marlo Thomas of the Third Millennium. Just waiting to meet the Phil Donahue of the Third Millennium. I’m thinking it might be Tyra. I just hope it’s not that Phil Donahue again.

Yes, we are in a recession. And yes, the Moment of Truth , courtesy of This Is Hell, is prepared to provide you, the helpless listener, with a plethora of suggestions for survival. I am prepared. Yes, I. I was prepared for 9-11, in the sense that I’d formed my convictions while taking into account the possibility the US might suffer an abominable terrorist attack. I was prepared in attitude. Just as in forming my opposition to capital punishment I’ve taken into account that someone close to me might be the victim of a brutal murder, God forbid. Or even I myself might be such a victim. See, I’m prepared. And if you can believe it, I was never in the Boy Scouts. I went to a Cub Scout meeting once, but it was all goyim.

Yes, I am prepared for the current economic disaster. Here’s how I prepared: I cashed in my 401K to pay my taxes, then I had to fight the California Employment Development Department’s decision to deny my unemployment insurance claim, during which time I lived on my credit card, which was the last straw for my wife, leading to my getting divorced and losing my home, forcing me to give up all my furniture and large appliances, leaving me with only what possessions I could fit in my car and still leave my dog enough room to lie down.

My exceptional perspicacity and forethought has paid off. I am now perfectly positioned for today’s economy. I have absolutely nothing to lose. Less than nothing, in fact. Show me anyone more protected from the ravages of recession, which is really a depression, than I. You will not find such a person. I’m invulnerable. What are they going to do, repossess my nothing? The car was paid for years ago. By my wife. So I own it outright. I never leave home without it, because I never leave home, because it is my home.

Nuff said. Now that I have satisfactorily proven my wisdom regarding matters financial, you will no doubt be pleased to absorb my advice for surviving the whatever-this-thing-is.

Advice number one: don’t ask me for shit. I don’t have anything to give you, I have no money, no room in my car, and if the going gets really rough I’m eating my dog and you can’t have any.

Advice number two: don’t be too fussy about what you put in your mouth. A lot people will pay you to put stuff in your mouth. Just remember these two facts: 1, saliva kills more germs than you would expect, and 2, you don’t have to swallow.

Advice number three: this is more a tip than an advice: jail isn’t so bad. It’s prison that’s the bad one. Jail is okay. Best way to go to jail is via drunk and disorderly. You’re drunk, so it’s fun. And since your goal is to go to jail, there are really no consequences. That’s why they call it, or rather I call it, a victimless crime.

Building on that tip is advice number four: if you don’t have stuff of your own, remember that other people do, and there are ways that stuff can become yours. It’s called OPP. Are you down with it? And if you cross a legal line, and let’s face it, legal lines are everywhere, the world is a legal minefield, you could be breaking the law right now and not even know it—but if you should be nabbed in the act of crossing one of those lines, remember: you’re going to jail! It’s win/win.

Advice number five: if you must go to prison, federal is better than state. So try to commit your more ambitious crimes, your con games, armed robberies, and your major larcenies, in more than one state before you get caught.

Advice number six: people throw out stuff that is totally fine to eat.

Advice number seven: yes, the fish that comes out of Lake Michigan is filled with carcinogens, but starvation will kill you for sure, whereas those carcinogens can take years to hurt you, and might never give you cancer at all.

Advice number eight: water is free, and can make you feel full.

Advice number nine: if you shoplift anything frozen, don’t hide it under your hat. In fact, don’t shoplift anything frozen. What are you thinking?

Advice number ten: if you pretend to believe in Jesus, you can get free food from certain kind-hearted Christians.

Advice number eleven: don’t lie when you panhandle. No one likes that. Just be honest. But not too honest. No one wants to hear what you’re going to do with the money. And don’t talk about how honest you’re being when you’re being honest. By all means avoid the BS story about needing bus fare to get to the shelter before they lock the doors. Best just to stand there with a cup, looking pathetic, but not too pathetic.

Advice number twelve: no one wants you to clean their windshield. Do it anyway.

Advice number thirteen: dress for success.

Advice number fourteen: many parts of a pine tree are edible.

Advice number fifteen: a wife and kids are a ball and chain. Get away from them as fast as you can. They are dead weight and will only drag you deeper into the gutter. And then who’s happy? Nobody. Whereas if you leave them, at least you have a chance at happiness. And if your family really loved you, that’s what they’d want for you. And if they don’t love you, why stick around?

Advice number sixteen: learn some good hobo songs. They’re coming back into fashion, that’s my prediction for the coming musical season. There are numerous songs about riding the rails and cooking beans over a can of Sterno. Check out Alan Lomax’s collection, The Folk Songs of North America. Seriously, check it out of the library. You’ll be the most popular hobo in the yard.

Advice number seventeen: if you can sleep sitting up, you can catch a nap in the library. And it’s warm there. Plus, reading is fun. They have books of hobo songs there.

Advice number eighteen: learn a trade. There may not be jobs in your area of expertise at the moment, but a good gastroenterologist is bound to find work eventually. So while you’re on the skids, use your time wisely. Learn something.

Advice number nineteen: marijuana increases the appetite, so avoid it unless you’re set for snacks. On the other hand, tobacco inhibits the appetite, and can be found on the ground outside most places of business. In the long term it may cause health problems, so you have to weigh that for yourselves. For those of you blessed with alcoholism, you may have the ability to metabolize certain solvents that are readily available in garages or utility sheds.

Advice number twenty: porn is cheaper than dating. This goes for you ladies, too. Human interactions require resources. It’s everyone for him or herself out there. Best to accept that you are destined for a life of solitude, at least until the market rebounds.

And finally, advice twenty-one: go where it’s warm. Soon everywhere will be warm, so go there now and get a head start getting acclimated. Life is easier in the warmth. And people are more laid back. Try a small town in Arizona. Life moves slowly there, and that means it takes longer to die, too. Or maybe it just seems that way. I’ll tell you something, they throw away some damn good half-eaten tacos along Interstate Eight.

That’s it. We’re at twenty-one. We should stand pat. This has been the Moment of Truth. Good day!