If you popped out of a time machine at a random moment in history, how would you know whether or not the country was in a recession? There'd be obvious signs, like lots more ads for payday loan joints and offers to buy your gold for pennies on the dollar.
But there are less obvious, much weirder clues all around you.
After all, did you know that when the economy is bad ...
#7. Mosquito Populations Surge
The tanking economy is causing huge swarms of insects in suburban areas, namely mosquitoes.
Now, if you're the clever type you might have already thought, "Well,
that probably makes sense -- cities are probably cutting their
mosquito-control programs because they don't have the funding." And that is certainly happening. But there's another reason for the mosquito baby boom that we're betting you'll never guess.
It's all the foreclosed houses.
Wikipedia Mosquitoes are very much into the real estate market right now.
Think about it. A lot of houses have pools, and when the bank comes
a-knocking, pool maintenance falls to the lowest priority on everyone's
list. And as anyone who has ever owned a pool or been involved in
maintaining one will testify, those bastards will go rank in a heartbeat
if left to their own devices. Even a drained pool can collect stagnant
rainwater, after all. And whose job is it to patrol all of these
thousands of pools to keep them disinfected?
So, a whole bunch of foreclosed houses end up with musky, slimy
cesspits of hell-water in their backyards. If you know anything about
swamps, you know that filthy, standing water is the perfect breeding
ground for the little blood-sucking bastards.
Getty And mosquitoes.
Still, this is just an increase in annoying bugs we're talking about
here. Surely, that's relatively harmless in the grand scheme of things.
It's not like they're carrying any potentially lethal viruses or anything.
#6. Waitresses Get Prettier
You're ordering at a coffee shop (or if you're fancy, a cafe), and
you notice that the barista is surprisingly attractive. Ordinarily you
would chalk that up to a nice moment in your otherwise mediocre day, but
hang on a tick. As you look around, all the employees are really
good-looking. What is going on? What time is it? Are you drunk already
and you just forgot? There's no good reason why all this beauty should
be wasted on angry caffeine junkies.
Getty You've stumbled into a sci-fi universe, that's all. Prepare to be culled, ugly!
Well, this phenomenon (assuming you aren't actually drunk) might be
an incredibly reliable, vaguely sexist indication of how the economy is
It's called the Hot Waitress Economic Index,
and it goes like this: In our often unfair society, really attractive
women are unlikely to work as waitresses, as they have an easier time
finding other, better-paying jobs (we're not saying it's right, we're
saying it's a statistical truth). When the economy goes belly-up,
attractiveness isn't as valuable as actual skill, and attractive people
get laid off just like everyone else -- so they temporarily drift back
to a job that doesn't require schooling but offers great tips if you
have a nice smile. When the economy picks up again, they return to
Getty Like posing as a waitress for stock photo libraries.
So the next time you're at a restaurant and a swarm of models are
mixing up orders or breaking plates, there's a chance that this may be
one of the last times you have the luxury of eating out, because those
women are the harbingers of an economic apocalypse.
Getty The four horsewomen will ride tonight: Death, Famine, Botulism and OSHA Non-Compliance.
#5. Tie Colors Turn Bland
Without even knowing it, every person wearing a suit to work is
offering a daily barometer for their sense of financial security, right around their necks.
Getty "We lost your 401k, but here's an alternate retirement plan."
Here's a quick crash course on Tieconomics: People have an inherent
tendency to wear bright, bold colors when they feel good and confident.
You know this already if you have done even a cursory study of pimps.
But when those same people are anxious about their financial well-being,
the opposite happens -- they are naturally drawn to drab, bland colors.
If that seems oversimplified, take a look at fashion through the last
Clockwise from left: '70s flop, '80s boom, early '90s flop. Or: bargaining, denial, depression.
There's a good reason why the color changes in business are specific
to ties. You're probably not going to replace your whole wardrobe based
on how you feel about life, and it's not really acceptable to wear a
bright yellow suit to work (again, unless this is a pimp situation). So
the change tends to get restricted to ties.
So, the next time you wonder whether big businesses are about to make
it rain or drop the axe, take a walk and pay attention to the suits on
the street. If the ties are all pink and bright, it's probably safe to
breathe easy. If they're drab beige, however ... well, it might be time
to hone your boxcar-jumping skills.
Getty "Man, that's really gray. Your business must be doing terribly."