It is hardly ever the small-town baker who goes to church, pays his taxes and plays on the Rotary softball team that inspires people to shove their neighbors toward large pits behind the barrel of a gun. Where humanistic, self-aggrandizement is the norm, the small-town baker is made to kneel before the pit. TL Davis
Thursday, August 29, 2013
I believe ol' Buckshot might find this interesting. I certainly did.
I used to be a history teacher at a
private Christian school in Louisiana. I was in my
mid-thirties then, unmarried and unattached. It was June and I was
on a road trip, cruising up Interstate 81 through the northeastern
corner of Tennessee in my Maxima. I was going to spend the
month in Pennsylvania, hiking another 300 miles of the Appalachian
Trail. The trail ran 2,200 miles from Georgia to Maine, and
over previous summers I’d hiked it in sections, from south to north.
After a school year spent dealing with self-absorbed and often
hysterical teenagers, I was looking forward to the wilderness solitude.
Friday afternoon, and I was scanning the radio dial as I passed the
towns and cities. The global banking crisis was in the news; the most serious problems were in Europe. Bank runs of some
sort. Lucky for Europe, they ran out the clock at the close of business
going into the weekend. But by then the financial contagion had spread
to New York, and the stock market closed early after some kind of Wall
Street emergency fuses had been blown.
Breathy voices warned of another round of dire world
economic consequences, by then a familiar tune. Later news
updates reported unspecified problems with the American credit
card system. Computer networks were having technical problems. Some cell
phone service was down. Spillover from Europe, no doubt. Other problems
related to the internet, possibly coinciding with a period of high
solar flare activity that affected communications satellites. Plain bad
luck and Murphy’s Law were frequently cited. There was even some talk of
a possible cyber attack, but of course it was pure speculation. China,
Russia, Iran: the usual suspects.
Whatever the cause, the main sticking point seemed to be problems in the
international currency markets. The day’s interbank trades could not be
resolved; there was too much volatility in the Eurozone as some
countries hinted at plans to pull out of the euro. Financial experts
assured their radio audiences that it would all be straightened out by
Monday. “Thank God it’s Friday” was a commonly expressed cliché laughed
into radio microphones.
And that was my working knowledge of the unfolding events.
By the time I decided to top off my tank in the northeastern corner
of Tennessee, every gas station was taking cash only, with long lines of
cars forming. I’d stopped at an ATM before my road trip and had
nearly 300 dollars stuffed in my wallet, and I wasn’t worried. I still
had a quarter of a tank, so I motored on and a few exits later, just
past a cluster of gas stations jammed with vehicles, I pulled into the
Regal Inn Motor Lodge and got a room. The Hindu desk clerk was happy to
accept cash at below the posted nightly rate.
I figured the credit card situation might be straightened
out overnight. I could gas up in the morning after the lines cleared. I
was in no hurry; I had all summer. That was my thinking going to bed
Woke up to no power, the TV dead, everything dead that didn’t run on
batteries. Anything that depended on the internet, cell service,
wireless anything, that was all dead too. My smart phone was brain dead.
It could show me some of my old pictures and texts, but it couldn’t
make a connection. Same deal in the motel lobby: no power, no wireless
connections, no credit cards.