Without question, driving 1,600 miles has done wonders for my attitude. Since I returned to work – the source of my stress – following my road trip to Montana, I have managed to, for the most part, keep a smile on my face. Of course, the underlying conditions haven’t changed, so I figure it’s only a matter of time before I slip back into a dysphoric state. Until then, I’m making my way through the valley of the shadow of distress with a spring in my step, not unlike Nick in a recent episode of Fear the Walking Dead.
I’m a fan of zombie shows, especially The Walking Dead (TWD) and its spin-off series Fear the Walking Dead. If you’re not familiar with these tales of undead drama, let’s just say they are about people trying to survive the zombie apocalypse. If you’re not familiar with the concept of a zombie apocalypse, we probably won’t be friends. Sunday’s mid-season premiere episode of Fear focused on the travels of Nick, who has left his parents and sibling behind so he could “find himself” on a journey towards Tijuana. Nick holds a decidedly minority opinion about zombies. Not only does he not revile them, he occasionally slathers himself in gore and walks among them. Long time TWD fans know that the sweet aroma of carnage, generously applied, renders one “invisible” to zombies. Make a mental note of that just in case the need – along with the dead – should arise.
In this episode, the undead are the least of Nick’s concerns. Along his 100-mile walk to Tijuana, heavily-armed douche bags, ravenous dogs, and dehydration are more pressing matters than the flesh-eating zombies that surround him. The cactus wasn’t a walk in the park either. Thirsty and starving, he cracks open a cactus hoping to find life-giving nectar but, instead, finds a good way to induce vomiting, which is another important bit of information for the Zombie Apocalypse for Dummies notebook. Not unscathed, and not without drinking his own pee, Nick survives those tribulations and, after a few flashbacks and hallucinations, manages to get to a bit of civilization. He finds a community of survivors taking shelter in Tijuana’s version of a gated community. Of course, fans of these shows know that any apparent peace and harmony in a colony of survivors in the wasteland is sure to be short-lived.
While I don’t want to suggest that my work life is a close parallel to the zombie apocalypse, the episode is a bit metaphoric. The days can be long and tedious, with occasional bouts of bureaucratic terror to spice things up. While I have access to all the fresh water I need, the malaise of not fully understanding where we’re going and what the rules are on the way there can be troubling. Despite that, I’m still alive, making progress, and not letting the zombies get to me. I’ve got a community of fellow travelers – or survivors, if you prefer – and we’re making the best of it.
I do want to point out that we may be closer to the actual apocalypse than I’d hoped. It was the subject of a recent text-based conversation among family members earlier this week. My sister-in-law reported that on a shopping trip to Walmart, she encountered deep-fried Twinkies on a shelf next to cheese-stuffed Doritos. That information combined with the revelation that KFC has released a chicken-scented sunscreen does seem ominous. If the apocalypse is upon us, another family member suggested Canada might be a nice place to go, but I’m not sure that’s how apocalypses work. Canada might be a place to escape the Trump presidential administration, but just because a country is super-polite doesn’t mean they get a free pass from the zombie plague. Come to think of it, Mr. Trump’s skin tone does give one pause. While he is slightly more articulate than the average zombie, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out he is suffering from a bite. Time will tell. I just hope the apocalypse doesn’t happen before October 23rd when TWD’s new season starts. I just have to know who Negan killed. My money is on Abraham.