In random, seemingly unrelated ways, there seems to be more and more of a sense that things are slowly falling apart in the fabric of society, which is usually an indicator that it's time to save your money, stock up on canned goods and hold your family members close to you before things get even worse.

On three occasions in the past month, the IndyGo buses I ride to and from downtown each day have broken down. It's only a minor inconvenience when I'm on my way home from work, but an extremely major hassle going to work, since my employer is pretty unforgiving about being even two minutes tardy.

These are all seemingly brand-new buses, too; they're clean and shiny and filled with sophisticated GPS and surveillance systems, none of which seem to prevent the damned things coming to an unexpected halt.

The history of public transportation is complicated and out of scope for a column such as this, but it can be summarized by saying it's nearly always been towards the bottom of the list of the city's priorities. IndyGo suffers from extreme neglect from local government, which means that a few dedicated people have to fight like hell to even keep the system going.

The mayor has little incentive to fix public transportation; the city is already broke and the people who utilize mass transit probably didn't vote for him anyway. So it seems likely that IndyGo will continue to be forced to provide degraded service at ever-increasing prices unless the mayor has a change of heart and decides it's worth saving.

Things are getting worse in other areas, too. A guy I spoke with on the bus the other day was pissed off that McDonald's has dropped the beloved double cheeseburger from its Dollar Menu.

"That was the only thing they had on there that was worth a damn," he told me, wafts of vaporized alcohol hitting me in the face as he spoke. "They don't care about the common people anymore. I remember when I could go get a cheeseburger, fries and a Coke there and get change back from a dollar. That was when Mr. Carter was president."

"Well," I said. "They still have a double burger for a buck that has one piece of cheese on it. And the double cheeseburger is $1.29."

"I ain't know nobody that got a buck twenny-nine just sitting around in they pocket," he said. "Besides, that extra slice of cheese ain't worth no 29 cents. They're just trying to rip us off. Things didn't used to be that way."

After declining his request for $1.29, stating that, like him, I didn't know anyone who could get their hands on that kind of money, and agreeing with him that the world has gone to hell since Jimmy Carter was voted out, I pulled the cord and got off at my stop.

Look around our city sometime and you'll see the beginnings of a ghost town. Storefronts are closing up left and right; mom-and-pop businesses, the few that remain, are struggling to get by and even larger businesses are feeling the crunch of the Bush Depression. Wal-Mart and Target stores seem like they're nearly always empty and the strip malls along 86th Street look like they've been evacuated after a zombie attack.

Even our celebrities are dropping off like flies. Michael, Farrah Fawcett, Ed McMahon and Steve McNair all died within the past two weeks and Abe Vigoda and Phyllis Diller should be very, very scared at the moment.

The only good thing about this entire mess is that we finally have a president who cares about the fact that the country is going to hell and is actually doing something about it. He's working as quickly as he can, but who knows if it'll be fast enough or even if anyone can save the USA.

The people of Alaska are breathing easier now, but they may be the only ones. Between the buses, the burgers and the celebrities all dying in front of my eyes, me, I'm headed off to get my Valium prescription refilled and to stock up for whatever is going to come next.


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