ABOARD THE ELECTION EXPRESS BUS (CNN) - As the sun comes up over the town square in this rural borough of 18,000 people, you could be excused for thinking, at least for a moment, that the American economy is at its robust peak.
The traffic running through downtown Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, jogs to the right as it passes the five-tiered Memorial Fountain, while the fountain's streams of water glisten like ropes of diamonds in the new light.
And that morning traffic is an endless succession of trucks and work vehicles bearing the names of companies and industrial concerns: Ganoe Paving. Edge Rubber. APR Plumbing and Heating Supply. Fisher Auto Parts. Cemco Construction.
The parade never stops. It looks like a promotional film for a nation boldly building - a nation self-assuredly going to work.
Yet if you walk the streets of the square during these schizophrenic national days - days when the economy has seemingly gone berserk, when nothing appears to make sense - and if you enter the front doors of the businesses, you begin to understand how the glowing, nonsensical numbers dancing on Wall Street computer screens have landed with a thud in Chambersburg, and have brought with them icicles of fear, the kind that men and women who run small businesses can feel in their stomachs.