The Day the Dollar Died (Part XV)
XV:.Truckin’ for God and Country
Filed under: The Day The Dollar Died Series
by John Galt
January 27, 2010
February 25, 2010 5:50 P.M. Central Time, Fergus Falls, MN
After a long day of checking his truck and trailer out, insuring the fence around the property was secured and laying a little bit of Red Brand barbed wire behind a snow drift just beyond his back porch to slow down any troublemakers or snoopers, Mike was ready to sit down, enjoy some coffee with his wife and his best friend’s better half. The work was hard in sub zero temperatures and worse, the strange lights that started towards town that started to flash as the sun set made him think of the bad old days in the jungle. The smell of dinner made Mike realize once again what it meant to be home and to be with the woman he loved.
The process of removing all of the layers of clothing took a minute or two, but after he finished in the foyer, he put the three two by fours across the door, turned on the outdoors motion activated lighting and headed into the living room to Mrs. Monckton sitting on the couch with a huge cup of coffee. “Mike, how are you doing? We could have helped you out there, ya know,” she said with that polite Minnesotan accent. Mike blushed and said, “Awww, Ma’am, that’s okay. I’ve been out in this winter for years now. It’s no big deal. Besides, I need to warn you and Sally that I’ve set up some barbed wire just beyond the porch behind the snow drift that’s about three feet high. I figure if we see any trouble, it’s going to come from the back part of the property.” Mike walked into the kitchen to see what was cooking and as he put his hands on Sally’s shoulders she said to him, “No you can not have any ham before it’s ready and I heard you about the wire. Don’t worry, I won’t chase anyone into it unless they need to be sliced and diced like dinner tonight.” Mike snickered and spoke up after that whispering to her, “I’m the hottest ham in the house honey!” She giggled and went back to finishing up dinner as Mike grabbed a cup of coffee to settle down in the living room.
No sooner than the recliner kicked out and he was able to rest his weary feet on it, Mike’s company cell phone rang which startled everyone because there was supposedly little if any cell service yet. “Let it go, it’s probably a crank,” Mike yelled out to his wife. The phone stopped ringing and the familiar tones of the voice mail rang out. As Sally was finishing up dinner some twenty minutes later, the phone rang again. Mike yelled out the same thing insisting that whoever it was would have to wait until dinner was over and he turned the ringer to silent mode. Sally began to carve the ham and served up a fantastic meal with some of the bounty of their spring, serving up the home canned squash, tomatoes and okra, and his favorite, creamed corn. To top things off Mrs. Monckton made her famous biscuits for dipping in the ham gravy which everyone in the county agreed should be made a staple at every meal. The hour taken to enjoy the dinner and relax after the stress of the past four days seemed to fly by, but Mike and Sally knew deep in their heart that someone with the company just had to be trying to reach Mike desperately about that stupid load of meat.
Mike tried to dial the number back that he missed but all he heard was a recording with the annoying digital beeps stating:
“THIS IS THE FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS DIVISION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY. YOU ARE NOT AUTHORIZED TO MAKE OUTBOUND NON-EMERGENCY CALLS AT THIS TIME. OPERATOR 10969 MIDWEST 3.”
It would repeat then hang up on him. “Guess they’ll call me back if it is that important,” he muttered allowed. While Sally and Mrs. Monckton cleaned the dishes, Mike decided to head out to his truck to see if his Qualcomm unit could get a signal. “Honey, I’m going to fire up the rig and see if I can get any kind of signal, there must be somebody in the office trying to reach me,” he yelled out to Sally. After throwing some winter gear on, Mike put his shoulder holster on and placed his .357 in it before putting his winter parka on. As he crawled up into the cab and cranked up the truck, he noticed some bright lights, almost like spotlights, out to the west of his ranch about twenty miles away. He sighed, then as the heat finally started to take hold inside the cab, he cranked up the Qualcomm unit to see if the boot up sequence would even work considering he has not been in touch with anyone for days now, at least anyone he trusted.
“What the heck was that all about? Why did it reboot itself after a simple firmware upgrade?,” Mike wondered out loud. After the boot process was complete the new message light at the top began to blink which meant that someone, somewhere, realized that he was still alive and that there must be some work out there somewhere. As Mike watched the scroll complete, he bent over and put his reading glasses on to make sure he was reading this information correctly:
After all of this scrolling Mike was incredulous. He was assigned to work for the government even though he had no idea who the OEC was nor how they had authority to force him, as an owner operator, to work for anyone but himself. The blood pressure was building so he responded pounding out on the keyboard the following message:
After pounding on the send key and getting the confirmation that the message was sent, Mike was at least reassured that the Atlanta office was not swallowed up by a black hole and there were people still working somewhere in this nation. With that brief exchange, he cranked the truck down, locked it up and walked around it to make sure the wheel locks were in place and that the equipment could not be moved without triggering enough noise to wake the dead. As he headed into the house the fourteen below temperature did not even phase him as his temper kept him warm all the way into the foyer where after stripping off his winter gear he yelled out to Sally, “You aren’t going to believe this bull these clowns in Atlanta have ordered me to do!” Sally was always pragmatic, always the typical calm, Midwest wife, and ready for this outburst catching him off guard by speaking first, “Honey, they just called you and will call back in five minutes. I told them you were securing your truck and would be back in shortly.”
Mike grunted, walked into the kitchen and made another cup of coffee and sat at the table with a legal pad, a pen and the cell phone sitting on the table.
Mike’s mind drifted off into the idea of starting to smoke again just to bide the time like he did in ‘Nam, but a promise to his wife is a promise and he decided that it would be better to just boil internally than start trouble at home. It seemed like an hour had gone by when the phone finally started to ring, but alas it was only ten minutes after his wife told him they would call back. “Hello,” a firm but hesitant truck driver said into the phone, “is this my central dispatch or the OEC, whatever that is?” The voice on the other end of the line was the Operations Manager for the company and Frank couldn’t help but laugh a little bit before responding, “Mike, I hope this is a good time to talk. Before you get all upset and demand answers, let me try to explain then you can fire away. As you could guess, this is Frank Liekiwicz from the Atlanta central dispatch office. We have had it a little rough down here with the huge riot and fires in the College Park area of town and the deployment of the Homeland and National Guards around most of the city so our situation is far different than yours and that is why the owner of the company volunteered to help the nation out in its time of need. The OEC or Office of Economic Continuity has been marshaling resources to start moving the tons of emergency food packages that have been stored throughout the country since 2003. The problem is that the entire just in time transport system is down and the railroads have been extremely unreliable due to sabotage and attacks by renegade gangs in parts of the nation. You will be paid your normal salary which will be loaded up on to your D-Card each week so Sally can go shopping and pay the bills. The owner is having me call every truck that is contracted to work for him and remind them that you need to do this for your country and to help feed the children in some of the large cities who are getting into desperate need now. We will try to get you home every two weeks and your expenses will be covered using a company D-Card for the purchase of all food and fuel as per the new government per Diem regulations. Does this make sense to you?”
Mike paused then asked, “Yes it makes perfect sense, but can I carry a sidearm. I was hijacked you know, by a fake Blackwater type group.” Frank answered back, “You’ll have to ask the OEC personnel in the morning. They will be there with a company D-Card, all roads pass and transponder, plus dispatch instruction sheets and OEC Qualcomm tracking device to plug into your communications unit and trailer.” That did not set well with Mike and his anger started to seep through in his voice, “Why the hell does the government need to track me? You know the wireless automated hours of service garbage already has me ready to quit this business.” Frank paused, then took a deep breath that Mike heard quite clearly before he started to speak slowly and carefully, “Mike, the world is upside down now. The company did not have a choice because we had a Federal license and permit to operate and they were going to place us under emergency regs anyways thus we were going to help one way or another. The only positive is that we get free fuel as a result of this fiasco to operate and can pay some of our drivers. We’re just going to truck for God and country now and pray that private industry is allowed to start operating again soon.” Mike, still flustered after the terms presented to him snapped back, “I’ll listen to what they have to say. But if I get into some bad areas and there’s no answer on my Qualcomm or the telephone, this truck will return to my garage so fast your head will spin. I am very upset about leaving my wife alone while we have guard units all around us and the threats like your Park riots or whatever it was possibly spreading out here. If these government clowns can’t offer me guarantees of safety for my wife, we’re going to have issues.” Frank apparently had heard this all before and simply replied, “Trust me Mike, I’m at the mercy of the same people that you are. Please just hear them out. Good night sir.” With that he hung up and Mike stared at the phone showing full antenna readings but showing “NO SERVICE” in the display. He leaned back in the chair, finished up the cup of coffee and looked over at Mrs. Monckton and his wife to tell them, “Ladies, it would appear we will have guests around five in the morning. I’m heading off to bed. Please don’t shoot them without giving me a chance to hear them out first.”
February 25, 2010 6:19 P.M. Eastern Time
Tom was picking at his dinner as Sandy and her mother chattered away. He could not stand the lack of information and with the weather getting cold again, he knew that the supplies they had on hand would last a few weeks but after that, without work, without access to his safety deposit box where he stuffed it with his silver coins and his wife’s expensive jewelry, the money would not last long even with the government D-Card nonsense they endured all afternoon. “Mom, honey, don’t mind me please,” he said softly, “I’m going to take my dinner into the living room and try to stomach watching the American News Update from the government as I just have to know what we are supposed to do now. I hate being in the dark.” The two ladies paused their conversation, nodded, and immediately went back to the hen pecking as Tom called it, while he set up the television tray in the living room. The electricity was on for now and he hoped to get at least two hours of television time in tonight just to see what was happening in the rest of the world outside of the United States and how bad the fire was out by the airport.
“ANU News Summary, ” the robotic female voice bellowed from the television, “today President Obama signed two new Executive Orders making it illegal to prosecute any government aid workers operating as a part of the Getting America Back to Work Program which kicked off this morning. The other order was to raise the pay rations for all military and Homeland Guard personnel serving in the Restoring America security and protection programs plus increasing food rations for their families while they serve throughout the country helping local authorities maintain order and protecting the infrastructure. In Rogers Arkansas a group of terrorists attacked the Tyson Food distribution center killing twelve guards and stealing three truckloads of processed chicken. The equipment was recovered six hours later but only one terrorist was captured who was believed to be involved in the Little Rock incident several nights before. Lastly the large fire in Atlanta, Georgia has been extinguished which was the result of a seven forty-seven cargo plane missing the runway in bad weather, crashing into several buildings of of Main Street in the College Park section of town. Only the pilots were killed in the unfortunate incident according to Major General Alvern of the Homeland Guard North Georgia security detail.”
After that news summary Tom realized he had been chewing the same piece of meatloaf the entire time and had forgotten to swallow. He leaned over to yell out at his wife and mother-in-law but it was not necessary. Both of them were standing in the arch from the dining room, their eyes glued to the television as Tom’s were, stunned at what they were hearing. “I was going to let you know but I sort of figured you might want to hear that,” Tom continued, “this is really getting spooky. Since when and what is the Homeland Guard? Mom, have you caught anything on that radio of yours?” Lillian looked over at him and said in a very firm voice, “Not yet, but I can guarantee you that tonight when I take the guard duty at two in the morning, my ears will be glued to it. You had best not fall asleep tonight son.” Tom shook his head and in the most serious look he could muster promised her, “Ma’am, there is no way I’ll fall asleep tonight, if ever again after hearing all that.”
February 25, 2010 6:30 P.M. Central Time, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
“Padre, come with me please,” the tall kid said with an Arkansas twang, “we’re going to process you and ship you to some quarters for the night where you will be more comfortable. The Guard does not feel it would safe to ship you back to DeWitt tonight.” Pastor Lewis was stunned. He stammered out to the young man, “Son, thank you. What happened to make that road so unsafe that we can not return to my home? Are we safe here?” The man in the black uniform looked him in the eyes and said it point blank, “Now that you’ve confessed, we can tell you the truth. The entire state south of interstate forty has been declared a F.M.D. or Federalized Military District. We have men shooting people violating curfew now due to the ambushes that have been happening here and in northeastern Louisiana. I do not want to risk you being hurt or hung as a sympathizer.”
“Thank you, I think,” the Pastor replied, “I guess I should just pray and say thanks that tonight should be peaceful as I have not slept in over twenty four hours.” The young soldier led him to a small room in a building near the edge of the camp. He pointed out the bed, the showers and bathroom areas then gave him a warning, “Do not attempt to open those windows or let any light out. You never know when a sniper is out there in the woods looking for easy prey.” This really shook up the God fearing man and he dropped immediately to his knees in prayer asking the Lord to give him strength. The young man started to walk out the door when he turned around after looking down the hallway and then shut and knelt beside the Pastor saying, “Padre, do you mind if I pray with you. I need some guidance to know if I’m doing things right by the Lord.” Lewis was stunned to hear this admission and of course told him to join him. “We both need the strength now my son, even if we do not know the path before us.”
February 26, 2010, 5:01 A.M. Mountain Time, Colorado Springs, CO
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!
The door rattled as if someone was hitting it with a sledge hammer and Wendy was terrified as she was used to sleeping in until eight because her job did not need her there until ten usually. “I’m coming, I’m coming,” she yelled out. She was so tired, she got careless and instead of looking out the peephole she just opened the door, assuming it would be safe thanks to the curfew regulations put in place to protect the citizens. “Miss Wendy Listels I presume?” the man in the Homeland Guard uniform asked. “Uh, yes, that’s me, uh, sir. What time is it? Is there an emergency? Is my mother okay?” Wendy was getting frantic and asked again plus inquired, “and why are you here so early?” The man behind the Homeland Guard agent shined a flashlight in her face and replied, “Ma’am, my name is Sergeant Anthony Tennebaum with the Colorado Springs Police Department Adjunct Team working to prevent theft and fraud. You filed a report with the OEC last night and we are here to get your side and clear this matter now.”
“Oh, please, come in,” her face lit up as she invited them into the house, “I hope to help you fine people stop this fraud. I don’t know what the rules are but that lady on the phone last night said that liquor store owner was just plain wrong for what he did.” As the two men entered into the house, shining flashlights into all corners while keeping their hands on their sidearms, an African-American woman in her early fifties walked in behind them, holding the familiar scanner or tablet device she saw when she first got her D-Card. Wendy, being a bit of a klutz in social situations stuck her hand out to the woman and said “Hi Miss, my name is Wendy Listels, and you are?” The woman grabbed Wendy’s arm, held the laser scanner over her forearm then looked up at the Homeland Guard soldier and said to him, “Nope, she’s not one of them. This is just a civi.” She then whipped around to Wendy after putting her arm down and said to her, “I’m Angelika Franklin Jones of the OEC Enforcement division,” and as she spoke, she flipped out a badge from her purse, “and I’m here to resolve this matter with the liquor store fraud. May I have your D-Card please.”
Wendy got excited then while the two men continued to walk around the house with their flashlights but that did not matter to her. She ran to her bedroom, grabbed her purse and started to reach into when the Sergeant said in a strong voice, “Slowly Miss. We don’t know you and we don’t want to have an incident.” She noticed that he had unsnapped his holster and had his hand on the grip, ready to draw so she replied, “Yes sir, I will take my D-Card out slowly.” She handed the card over to Ms. Jones and sat down on the couch beside her, drawing a puzzled and disgusted look from the bureaucrat. The OEC official scanned the card and in the screen a list of all transactions appeared for her to review. “Miss Listels, it says here you attempted to purchase six bottles of wine and liquor while at the store, is that correct?” Wendy looked totally confused but replied honestly, “Yes I did but….” and before she could finish a receipt of some sort printed out from the machine. “Miss Listels, with that verification, please put your thumb on the scanner’s reader,” Angelika said. Wendy did so obediently and then the ticket was torn off and handed to her. “FIVE DOLLAR FINE FOR ATTEMPTED HOARDING? YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME?!?!”, Wendy screamed out. The Colorado Springs officer then switched his other hand to the Taser and said to her, “Young lady you had best calm down.”
Wendy took a deep breath, tears welling up in her eyes and asked the bureaucrat, “But what did I do wrong? I just went shopping, that’s all?” Angelika did not even hesitate in her response, “Miss Listels, if you had bothered to open up and read your instruction book, you would have seen on page 172, subsection 1801.191933, that it is illegal to create additional labor for vendors or retailers by attempting to purchase goods that are not authorized beyond the ration limits outlined by the manual and available online at the recovery website. This is your fault and we came here to just verify that you were the one that reported it and fine you for your crime which has been automatically deducted from your new Citizen’s D-Card Federal Reserve Bank Account. There’s no point in arguing because the new Administrative Judiciary will not start operations for hearings and appeals until March first.”
Wendy was very upset now and looked at this group and said, “But what about my justice. What about the illegal activities of the store owner?” Angelika looked over at the Colorado Springs Policeman and he answered her, “Miss, he was adjudicated and found guilty of not maintaining current inventory reports as required for all open vendors. He was fined as per the emergency act. There was no evidence of the owner accepting contraband coinage as you described and thus we could not proceed any further beyond the fines imposed by us against him.”
“I could just cry, wasn’t there a camera or anything?”, Wendy asked innocently. “Miss Listels, just drop the issue. He’s in enough trouble and you are also because the next time you attempt to avoid the ration requirements the fine accelerates to ten dollars per incident. The camera at his business was replaced with a new OEC Enforcement web cam so there will be no more repeats of mystery customers at his business, that is a certainty.” Wendy sighed, leaned back on her sofa and nodded like a whipped puppy dog. The agents finished their work, and left as she read the deduction from her account on the receipt for the violation. As the threesome piled into the squad car, she watched them back out and they went about two blocks down the street before turning their lights on and pulling into someone’s driveway.
Angelika and Sergeant Tennebaum grinned as they pulled into the driveway of their next subjects of investigation. The rattling of the three cases of rum in the trunk was noisy but the “arrangement” they made with the liquor store owners before the rationing began insured that they would never have to worry about their little government off the books side business with the black marketeers in Denver. At one silver dollar per bottle they knew they would all be set to weather the economic storm as long as it was impacting the country. It was also very good for business as there were plenty of dupes like Wendy around, and they would always make their enforcement quota plus find new leads for suppliers to keep their side distribution enterprise flush with inventory for years to come.