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The next time

People never get used to the unexpected.

At the height of the terrorism scare of the early twenty-first century, uncertainty was the only constant. Governments raised alarms on anniversaries and holidays, only to find the biggest threat was sowing complacency. They fortified airports, so terroists turned to subways and buses.

Fearing “weapons of mass destruction,” security efforts focused on “points of entry.” We looked outward, fearing what we saw: people not like us, and the public cried, “keep them all out!” Elected officials took advantage, whipping up a fearful fervor, and spending it like currency. They purchased large goverment contracts for barrier fences to prevent the next attack, biological research centers for vaccines and antibiotics to fight the next attack, and votes.

But the terrorists discovered they didnt have to get inside to create fear.

Everyone remembers what they were doing when terrorists, working in concert throughout the world’s developing nations, announced what came to be known as “The Bean Blight of 2024.”

Within six weeks of the announcement, over 99 percent of the world’s coffee crops failed. Panic ensued. Crowds at Dunkin Donuts rivaled gasoline lines of the 1970s. Riots broke out at Starbucks when they stopped selling Frappuccinos. The President went on the air urging calm, conservation, and the virtues of tea. Conservative reactionaries stormed the major ports, seeking ships rumored to be carrying tea; though they quickly discovered modern container ships bore little resemblance to the sailing ships of the 18th century, and were easily rounded up by local authorities. Their hands were shaking, pain easily seen behind their eyes – clearly suffering from withdrawl. Many were sobbing entreaties to their captors:

“Please mister, please! I need a grande, no-whip, iced mocha latte!”

Productivity plummeted – followed by stocks and employment. News celebrities blamed an unsustainable “productivity bubble,” inflated by Americans reliance on coffee to boost alertness and production. Medical journals re-printed long ignored studies on sleep. Unions lobbied for naps.

Hoping to avoid a backlash at the polls in the coming elections, Congress hastily passed The Taster’s Choice Act of 2024, scaling back regulations on new, artficial stimulants in the food supply.

Ultimately it was the good ‘ole American, marketing spirit that saved western civilization. Coke was the first to capitalize. Red, white and blue advertisements began to appear everywhere, borrowing from a famous phrase in history: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning for a caffeinated Coke and a smile.” Soon stimulant products were everywhere. Sales of energy drinks, previously limited to the under 30 demographic, long-haul truckers, and finals week, went through the roof. Cities briefly debated adding caffeine to the water supply, but soon the markets stabilized and cooler heads prevailed.

In time the US economy recovered, but not without taking its lumps.

Most of us never did acquire a taste for tea.

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