“We are getting back to normal. We’re doing so with a new sense of awareness. And the (FBI) warning that went out today helped to heighten that sense of awareness.” – President George W. Bush, Oct. 12, 2001

Everything’s Just As It Was, Except for the Bit About Dying at Any Moment

New Orleans, La. ( – Willfully setting aside war and uncertainty, Americans are following the government’s advice and resuming their normal routines: going to work, taking the kids to soccer practice, wearing rubber gloves and gas masks while opening their mail, having friends over for dinner.

anthrax puzzle

Standing in the checkout line of a local Wal-Mart, 28-year-old New Orleans resident Christine Nemey said she was doing her part. “The President said we need to fight terrorism by going on with our lives, so I’m doing what I’ve done every week since I was 16, buying a new pair of shoes,” she said. “Although these aren’t technically ‘shoes.’ These are technically 16,000 gallons of bottled water.”

Elsewhere in the nation, normality was manifest. In New York, 56,000 baseball fans sat on the edges of their seats as they simultaneously watched the Yankees-Oakland playoff game and the bearded, dark-skinned pretzel vendor working Section 7. In Delaware, moviegoers said they had no trouble losing themselves in the comedy “Bandits” after first calculating exactly how long it would take them to reach the nearest exit, just in case they might need to do that.

And in Ogden, Utah, Toyota salesman Neal Gersimme was having a self-described typical day. “Let’s see, I almost sold a new Sienna minivan, I had lunch at Wendy’s with a couple of the guys, and I nearly wet my pants when I heard this big boom that turned out to be just a passing thunderstorm,” he said. “Same old same old, really.”

Added Carolyn Johnson of Seattle, who had just come off a Southwest Airlines flight from Chicago: “I’m not saying we should pretend nothing happened, but I agree with the National Guardsman with the M-16 who ordered me to freeze when my earrings set off the metal detector – the best thing we can do is to go on as if everything’s normal.”

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