- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 25, 2001

Take a deep breath, Cipro breath. Remove the gas mask and rubber gloves. Don't set out flares to mark the arrival of your mail carrier, and leave your mutt out of it, if your mutt behaves like most mutts around a mail carrier.
The sky is not falling on Washington, despite reports to the contrary from an ever-growing number of anthrax-obsessed experts on television.
This is their 15 minutes, and they seem all too eager to hyperventilate in public.
They apparently have spent a lifetime studying what anthrax does to the human body, and now they are coming out of their hermetically sealed labs in droves. Excuse their pasty complexions. You wouldn't look so hearty, either, if all you ever did was hang out with petri dishes and nasal swabs.
They have a million advisories, one of which is: You are not supposed to breathe while you open your mail. Also, be particularly careful around letters from Ed McMahon that declare you are a winner. His fine print is bad for your indigestion.
If Arm & Hammer sends you a free sample of baking soda, try not to panic. Do not touch, taste or put the sample to your nose. Leave the area immediately and call the local authorities. Screaming is permitted.
Otherwise, try to hang in there.
You probably are confused, given all the contradictory messages on the airwaves. You are being told to be scared. You are being told not to be scared. Which is it? To be scared or not to be scared?
You are told the terrorists will have won if you do not open your mail. On the other rubber-gloved hand, you are told, just to be safe, you might want to zap your mail with ample doses of radiation before opening each letter.
I don't know about you, but I'm having a hard time with the "terrorists-will-have-won" stuff.
You wake up to the sun each morning and hit the roadways. They wake up in a cave. You go to work, to restaurants, to movie theaters, to sports venues, to shopping malls. They visit with the mildew in their caves. You listen to music. They listen to the bombing. You have indoor plumbing. They have a serious problem there. If to the victors goes a split-foyer cave, no money down, they can have it.
Now back to the anthrax scare.
You have nothing to fear but the fear of the eyeball-bulging, vein-protruding, sweat-soaked talking heads on television. They are talking spores, thousands of spores, followed by a rash, a fever, a cough, shock and death.
Three have died from inhalation anthrax since this form of bioterrorism became a buzzword a couple of weeks ago. That is three too many, unacceptable, and they won't be forgotten.
Yet as unnerving as anthrax is, the threat is statistically negligible compared to the risks we readily accept each day on the roadways, especially at the Mixing Bowl in Springfield.
More than 40,000 people die a year on America's roadways, which comes out to more than 100 people a day.
Life is filled with risks, starting with the cholesterol-ridden hamburger that hits the palate just right. Put it down. Right now. Have a carrot instead.
People die each day from a lifetime of bad habits and bad decisions. Some die because of bad luck, others because of a lack of common sense.
The alternative to many of the daily chores and joys before us is no life at all, and that includes sifting through the breathless pitches from credit-card companies that arrive by mail.
It is nice to feel wanted, to have so many potential new best friends who have nothing but your best financial interests at heart. This is one of the small pleasures of mail service. You are not alone, not when so many seemingly important people are asking, "Can I be your friend?"
Anthrax has changed the way we look at our mail, no doubt, and the three who died from it are the insult added to the atrocity of Sept. 11. Caution is the new rule with mail, not hysteria, and God bless our postal workers.
To the nut cases hiding out in caves, their last day is coming.
Enjoy your scenic surroundings while you can.

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