The Mayans’ premonitions of the end of human civilization have come true, and early, but not as a result of a shift in Earth’s magnetic field. There are no natural disasters, tsunamis or floods. No livestock are being whipped about the globe like waffle balls. Rather, the Western world’s supply of caffeine is gone, and all wireless Internet connections are down.
Unbeknownst to journalists and consumers worldwide, the cause of the coffee crisis began months ago. Citing longstanding unfair trade policies and its mistreatment by global superpowers, the Republic of Colombia refused to continue exporting coffee beans to the United States, China, the European Union and any state trading with these countries — in other words, the world. Neighbouring Central and South American countries soon followed suit. Bolivia and Ecuador have, however, agreed to continue exporting cocoa beans.
Hot chocolate is still available this holiday season, but workplace productivity is plummeting. Managers worldwide are reporting that due to the absence of coffee, staff members are less attentive, less able to multitask, less energetic and far less chipper. Waiters at fine-dining restaurants are failing to polish the cutlery on their tables. Secretaries are unable to schedule and oversee meetings. Accountants are falling asleep on their paperwork. Christmas elves are mouthing off at children waiting in line to see Santa at mall food courts.
Experts say that within months, weeks or even days, perhaps, the consequences of the coffee bean crisis will be more alarming. Pilots will forget steps in their pre-flight checks. Police officers will be less likely to avoid pedestrians while in a car chase. Firemen will be groggy when the station bells ring and may fall asleep descending the fire pole. Cruise ship directors may not be able to rouse a crowd, even to dance the Macarena.
Though unrelated, the effects of the computer virus that has rendered wireless Internet ineffective worldwide are similarly dire. Users of public transit have reported a lack of stimulation coupled with intense boredom and depression. If left untreated, these feelings can lead to sudden, violent outbursts. To calm said citizens, national broadcast syndicates have encouraged adherence to the “Count the Sheep” campaign. CBC, PBS, BBC and others have advised citizens feeling dismayed and unable to endure their withdrawal from the Internet to focus on an unmoving subject such as a wall, a pillar, a shoe or a popcorn-speckled ceiling and count imaginary lambs hurdling over imaginary fences.
Public libraries that do not rely on Wi-Fi have been stormed for their one-hour “free Internet” cards — depriving librarians of their already limited energy (the coffee shortage has hit bookworms disproportionately hard). A disturbingly large percentage of holiday travelers have found themselves lost in snowbanks or in the wrong city, part of town or neighbourhood without access to Google Maps.
Experts are not optimistic. In fact, one of them fell asleep while sharing his expertise in an interview. But hope remains. Please refer to your government-issued TEA DROP calendar for when you can expect your package of Earl Grey, Orange Pekoe or English Breakfast to parachute into your neighbourhood for your holiday enjoyment. Snuggle on the couch with your cup of cocoa or tea while you watch Armageddon, Deep Impact, The Day After Tomorrow, The Road, Mad Max, 28 Days Later, The Terminator or Contagion, and be glad that, at the very least, the demise of our civilization doesn’t merit a disaster movie.