Economic ghost story

I have been driving up and down the length of California on Highway 5 since 1973, when my sister moved to Chico, CA. I have made well over 70 trips over the years. The lack of business in the stores and at the roadside merchants is dramatically noticeable. It’s never been this bad in memory.

I have spent four days on the road between Sonoma and La Jolla and back over the last week. Over the last three days, on the way home, I was really struck by the absence of the usual commercial activity. I went into several stores and found myself the only customer, or just one of two. The clerks who served me were very attentive to my needs in a human fashion rather than a rote manner.

Yesterday, I left Tehachapi and started driving up the 5. I stopped in Bakersfield at a gas station that should have been swamped with holiday travelers on their way home. Again, lack of customers. I bought something and asked the clerk if he had noticed if business was slow. He looked right at me and said, “Yeah, it’s like a desert,” with a tinge of fear in his voice. I replied, “I think things are going to get a lot worse. Might be a good idea to hunker down.” He said, “Yeah, I’m taking care of myself.” I reached out and shook his hand and said, “Take care, brother.” Further up the road at Santa Nella, the gas station on the right was devoid of customers when I pulled into town and 20 minutes later when I left, it was still empty.

Today, south of San Francisco, a store sported a banner saying “Emergency Salvation Sale.” I fear for my state, and my country.

The other shoe is gonna drop soon, and drop hard. Have you started your vegetable garden yet?

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