Bill Tinker came by the office the other day to place a garage sale ad. He's selling a washer and dryer, various kitchen items and, we would guess, just about every thing he owns.
Bill missed the deadline for today's paper, so the ad will have to run on Tuesday. Missing the deadline is understandable given all that Bill has to do, but it will give him just a little shy of five days to unload his earthly goods. Because after next Saturday, he won't have any.
Bill, as you may recall from a May 3 story in the Index-Tribune, is quite certain that Jesus will return on May 21 and the righteous will be conducted straight to Heaven. He can't guarantee it, but he's pretty sure he'll be among the True Believers with an E-Ticket to eternity.
Some have asked why Bill doesn't just give all his belongings away because, where he's going, he won't need the money. We like to think he'll donate his garage sale receipts to a worthy cause, perhaps the care and nurture of those pitiful souls riding out the last 153 days before the Earth is incinerated by a vengeful God.
By Bill's calculation, only about 200 million will be saved. Another 2 billion will perish in the rubble of a global earthquake that will circumnavigate the Earth. The remaining third of the planet's original population will have until Oct. 21 to ponder their sins. Then it's all over.
Cynics among us have made sport of Bill's beliefs and some opportunistic entrepreneurs have chosen to profit from the end of times. Bart Centre, a New Hampshire retiree launched Eternal Earth-Bound Pets USA in 2009 in preparation for a pet-free rapture that will leave, he is quite certain, millions of lonely pets behind. He now has contractors in at least 26 states ready to take custody of beloved animals who don't qualify for heaven. The price is just $135 per pet.
Other business opportunities keyed to the end of the world include the "Raptu-lert," a battery-powered device billed as a "Rapture Early Warning Detection System."
We have also seen signs for "End Times automobile towing," and "Tribulation homeowner's insurance."
At least Bart Centre provides a useful service, unlike the selfish, soulless, covetous citizens sporting bumper stickers, seen even in Sonoma, asking "Come the Rapture, Can I Have Your Car?"
For those wanting the latest and last word on the world's end, there is Rapture Ready News, a website with all things Almighty, from "the truth" about evolution to a primer on hell.
Of course, trusting the accuracy of Bill Tinker's end-date is a little dicey. The world has also been supposed to end in 1844, 1914, 1918, 1925, 1942, 1975, 1981, 1988, 1989, 1992, 1993, 1994 and, according to Sir Isaac Newton, 2060.
We wish Bill Tinker only the best, whatever happens a week from Saturday. We expect to be in the company of a few thousand enraptured Sheryl Crow fans at Sonoma Jazz-Plus. But we heartily endorse the suggestion made by more than one end-of-world pundit, which is to live every day - in fact every hour - like it's your last. Make it count. And for that, you don't even need a garage sale.