Mark Washburn

OK, things are bad. How bad are they?

So, things are bad.

Things are so bad people here have quit talking about United Way.

So bad I'd rather open a letter from the IRS than my 401K statement.

So bad Steve Smith is offering career counseling on controlling stress.

So bad a mama van with a “Baby on Board” sign muscled me out of the way at the gas pump.

So bad that “Saturday Night Live” was actually funny for a few minutes.

So bad they're referring to Tryon Street as “Skid Row.”

So bad people are bragging about paying only $4 a gallon.

So bad farmers are complaining about the rain.

So bad the old Capital Grille crowd now meets at the unemployment office.

So bad that when Bruton Smith whines about being a “victim,” folks tell him to get in line.

So bad people are sneaking across the border to find work – in Mexico.

So bad the folks in HR no longer take their cues from “Dr. Phil.” Now they identify with “Terminator.”

So bad Ken Lewis at Bank of America says it'll be at least a year 'til things improve, which is like saying “before the moon falls out of the sky.”

So bad, Ken Thompson didn't go to work this morning, and probably felt good about it.

So bad you'd rather visit the dentist than your investment broker.

So bad that saying something optimistic feels like putting lipstick on a shark.

So bad you want to read Nostradamus for comic relief.

So bad that Houston, the nation's energy capital, is powerless.

So bad Bobcats tickets are worth more than Wachovia shares.

So bad that even Barack Obama and John McCain agree something must be done.

So bad that you've had to become foster parents for Fannie and Freddie.

So bad people have stopped complaining about traffic jams on I-77. Now they're just happy to get a seat on the bus. And have a job to go to.

So bad that Yonggi Cho – who likes to e-mail me explaining he's “a citizen of Hong Kong working for the Hang Seng Bank Ltd. with a Business Proposition involving a huge sum of fundings (Twenty Million USDollars) that I want to move out of my Bank but am seeking for your help and cooperation so please reply me back” – wrote instead to offer me a loan.

And I'm considering it.