Last Tuesday, the regular’s table at The Roost Cafe sat cold and empty by the front window.
For some mysterious reason, its usual occupants had elected to huddle in the dim light of a backroom table.
I had business with one of them, but when I approached, they hissed and waved me off.
Which was odd.
So I mounted a stool at the counter next to my neighbor Walt.
“What’s up with them?” I asked.
“They’re planning a conspiracy,” he whispered.
“Really? About what?”
“They don’t know yet, they are still in the planning stage.”
As he dug into his hashbrowns, Walt went on to explain.
“Johnson has always been a QAnon conspiracy buff, but now he has dragged the rest of them down the rabbit hole.”
He paused to test the temperature of his coffee with his index finger.
“Remember those pyramid schemes people were buying into years ago?”
“They failed because anyone with a brain knew it was smarter to start at the top rather than buy into the bottom.”
“Oh no, I see where you are going. Instead of buying into a QAnon conspiracy, the old boys have decided to start their own.”
“Sounds like fun, how does one get in on it?”
“You can’t, if they let just anyone in, it wouldn’t be a conspiracy, now would it?”
He had a point.
It is why I never put much credence in such plots.
Mainly because the #1 rule of scheming is that no one knows how to shut up. Sooner or later, it all comes out.
The very idea of an all encompassing conspiracy runs counter to human nature. If anyone ever managed something that big, the temptation to blab about it would be overwhelming.
In the real world, there are manipulations of politics, the media and the markets, but they require no more planning and silence than a school of herring needs to swirl and whirl about. It may appear both beautiful and uncanny to watch a churning flock of starlings but it requires no more of the birds than instinctively knowing what to do.
Human corruption is like that too.
But the thing that bothers me most about conspiracy theories is the powerlessness of it all. At its root, blaming what is wrong with the world on dark and mysterious forces simply allows one to avoid the discomforts of reality.
As Walt and I mused about it all, another neighbor came to join us at the counter. Eyeing the group in the backroom, he leaned in to ask, “How is their conspiracy going?”
We were shocked.
“How did you hear about it?”
“It’s all over town.”