Background: Irma Aftermath & Civil War
Once all your modern conveniences have been rightfully restored, your life doesn’t just switch back to normal. For those who were never without, they continue to zip along at the speed of Internet. But as a former refugee in your own city, you now have to re-acclimate yourself to modern life. A/C and replenishing essentials is only part of it. You’re behind on sleep, laundry, cleaning and other chores; and that’s if you were lucky enough not to be flooded. Your eating rhythm has been disrupted, and food choices cut-off with no electricity. Personal hygiene literally goes out the window. No privacy in a neighborhood with no power, as everyone’s windows are open 24/7, unless there’s a generator running. Time is money, and those without power seem to be more short on both, compared to those who weren’t. This is a political, economic & policed war I’m describing here.
Hurricane Irma’s eye passed one week ago, but it was the “Aftermath” most of us have had the hardest time surviving. More people are being flooded out daily, as the rains keep coming, meaning more water which has no place to go. Florida is a sinking boat. The “important” structures are safe for now, so their sandbags (and any other resources) have been stored away instead of being put to good use elsewhere. For the most part nothing is being done, while the government & media are managing this crisis by censoring it, in a desperate attempt to get everything “back to normal.” Power & Internet restoration is being manipulated by the flick of a switch from the puppet masters. Most of Florida still doesn’t have Internet, so it’s hard for people outside this area to see & hear the truth from first-hand refugee survivors. If more people were being allowed to get online, you’d be hearing a much different story, versus what the media has been shoveling.
I’m on my bike this Monday morning, making my rounds. My working partner in the manager’s offices gives me another fist bump over getting Internet back to the complex. She still has no power at her home. Her & her husband are running a generator on & off. Generator sales have spiked since the storm, and reportedly there’s legislation in the works to make them mandatory. “Funny how people are expected to pay more & more, for the services they’re supposed to have,” I remark then leave. She’s about 40, holding up well, and really cute on top of everything else. That’s a good woman, boys & girls. I tell her I’ll say a few words for her down at City Hall. She’s grateful that I’ve got her back, and likewise.
I get to City Hall with a backpack full of recyclables. I’m stuffing them into a bin in front of their doors– one of the few around town. Some poor fellow is seated a table away with some papers in his hand. I ask him, “Do you have power?” He looks at me for a second, and says, “No.” I already knew. I’m almost finished stuffing everything glass & plastic into the bin. “They don’t make it easy to do the right thing, do they?”, I say to him. “No, they don’t,” is his response. I let him know I’ll say a few words for him inside.
I leave my bicycle against the glass window unlocked. I’m 100% confident it won’t get messed with as long as he’s still out there. The you-know-what secretary is behind the glass again, and I think she saw me coming this time, because she doesn’t even look up. My sixth sense tells me she’s found me online. I say to her, “Still a lot of people without power.” She replies without looking at me, “Really?” I move into the doors which open so the guy outside can also hear me, and say out loud, “I tell ALL of them to come here.”
Onto the Internet station, which today has cars in the back parking lot. I park on their front doorstep with the kickstand down, and try the door. To my surprise, it opens so I walk in. There’s a sliding glass window to my right, with a security-coded locked door on the opposite wall. I try the window, and notice youngish female secretaries working inside. The glass is heavily tinted, and I can only see the younger one clearly at first, with whom I converse– as the other looks on. I ask how the Internet restoration is going, and she looks at me– puzzled? I explain some more, but no use. I’m told they just “serve papers” here, as her supervisor steps up to assist in this matter. Me: “What kind of papers?” Them: “We can’t say.” Me: Why not?” Them: Blank stares.
I’m peddling up to speed again, and make note of the Internet line Spectrum “fixed” the other night, which now has a rope lassoing it to an adjacent palm tree. It’s hitched in-between the yellow caution tape that still floats in the wind. It’s haard to fix this stuff right– you understand?
Onto the post office to recycle my mail. Except I discover there is no bin for that anymore. I saw one the week before, as I walked by, but alas no more. I interrupt everyone waiting and working to ask out loud, if there are any recycling bins in the post office? The main manager looks around for a second or two, then mumbles, “Ahh…No.” Me: “That’s what I thought.” Then looking to everyone waiting in line, “Make you wonder, huh?” I then stuff all my junk mail into the nearest garbage can, as everyone looks on. That’s when you give up, and I always prefer to do it dramatically– in front of a public audience. You’re sending a message to everyone with your actions. I park my bike inside here.
Speaking of things you wonder about, yesterday I walked by Lake Monroe and talked with a black couple fishing at the seawall. They were the only one’s fishing, as water is now pouring over most of the Sanford seawall. He’s lived & fished here for over 20 years, and says he’s never see the water so high. There has been a small yacht moored out in the middle of the lake for months, even through the hurricane. I saw it bobbing in the waves as the rain & gales were picking up, and took this shot (below) on my iPhone. It’s center-right, and the fisherman tells me it’s been there for years, yet no one knows what it’s doing there?
I reach my produce stand and see a sign that reads: closed. I check their hours and see they’re always closed on Monday’s. I knew that. I’m just a little off, still– and here it is showing up again. It shows up in so many little ways, that put you behind the eight-ball in everything. I needed the exercise anyways, I say to myself on the way back, as it begins to drizzle again. That’s another thing you don’t do so much of with no power in Florida.
The oil companies, hotels, grocery stores, restaurants, furniture rental companies, electricians, and water damage clean-up professionals, etc are all busy busy. Many of the people who do the actual work in these fields, have no power/Internet themselves. Meanwhile, their bosses in management & CEO’s are all getting fat. You can see it & feel it all starting to simmer…
I do have Internet, so when I get home and jump online, and see that Maria is now a major hurricane in the Caribbean. It’s just what we don’t need, as we just aren’t prepared for it; and yet it’s just what’s coming, just as everything is “getting back to normal.” This is how most of us are surviving the madness that is Florida.
All of a sudden it’s beep-beep-beep of a utility truck. I look out and it’s Waste-Pro. Time to get my garbage out. The plastic bag in the refrigerator is pulled out, and all other indoor waste bins have their contents emptied into it. It’s not much, less than half a bag. I cut my own hair, and clean my own teeth, as it just works better for me. In Mount Dora, I had creepy blue-haired neighbors breaking into my garbage. I can’t make this stuff up.
The vehicle rolls by as we approach the next dumpster. I give him “the wave,” as always. Pedestrians would get killed less if they used proper hand signals to alert drivers as to their intentions. Proper signaling eliminates confusion & unnecessary accidents. He’s out of his truck and has unlatched the gate as I arrive with my contribution. “It’s bullshit they make you do this by yourself,” I say to him. I toss my garbage in and pick up the remaining trash on the ground and throw it in too. “We already have enough flies and garbage in Lake Monroe… thanks, for what you do,” I say in parting. He’s happy to hear that and returns, “I’m used to it, Take it easy, dude.” Walking back into my apartment I’m thinking to myself, that’s me, the dude– takin’ it easy for all you sinners.
Well that just about wraps it up, and it was a pretty good story to boot. Made me laugh to beat the band. Parts anyways. I don’t like to see people getting flooded out, or living without power, or even Internet. But I do happen to know that things are “getting back to normal. That sure is something, ain’t it?
Post-Script: A few hours later I know everything is cool again, as I’m finally listening to the record I should be: Zen Arcade by Husker Du. This is one of the greatest bands ever, a trio that never sold out, thus they never cashed in. Broke up in 1987, and rumors of them reforming up until drummer, singer & songwriter Grant Hart was pronounced dead the other day. It is said that some bands go to 10– or even 11. Husker Du went to 20. Too many people just don’t know, and that bothers me.
I notice the 12-year old boy going up the stairwell with his backpack full. I go outdoors and check my mailbox. There’s a bank statement, along with junk mail from Spectrum concerning an upgrade in Internet service, and a mailer from Aaron’s furniture rental. After I process that, I’m off to you-know-where, to try to close the deal with you-know-who.
She’s not there, and I figured that might be the case tonight. Oh well, maybe next time… The place is fairly empty, and there’s no one at the bar– completely creeper-free. I’ll take that any day, and grab a convenient seat or two. It’s Open Mic night and the regulars are warming up. I saw one of them as I was walking in. I often joke to myself, “Rock star entering the building,” when I see this. Then when it all settles down, I quietly go in myself. One of them announces that anyone can sign up and play with them, or do their own thing… They know who I am, but never approach me directly for some reason, so I will: Ric Size doesn’t sign autographs, and needs to be paid.
I chat with the bartender, who is one of my favorites. She didn’t have power for two days, like me. The sound from the 4-piece band has no low end, so I tell the manager who fixes it. The guys are rockin’ much better now, and you can tell because people are grooving their bodies. Common mistake, not enough bass. Someone says something into the mic between songs about “beating someone’s wife,” or whatever… Microphone abuse happens too.
I explain to the barkeeper that people sometimes get in front of the microphone, and go crazy. I then insist, that I never do that. She’s trying to control her burst of laughter as she runs outside. She does well. I know she knows who I am, as she told me earlier (in confidence) that I’m horrible. Yup, she’s been reading me online, and I laugh at her critique. After she returns from the kitchen, I explain that I only say what I say, because it needs to be said, and that it’s all out of love. She accepts that, and we’re good. I’m glad, because she is pouring & serving my drinks. I’m an A-1 bitch, getting away with murder. Gotta be able to hang with the bitches, boys. Have you heard the legend of how Robert Johnson died? I’m telling you guys, it’s NOT bitchy to think this stuff. But it is bitchy to share it.
Heading home I see a homeless man curling up on a park bench. “Are you going to sleep here tonight?”, I inquire in a friendly tone. “I might,” he replies. I flip him my remaining $30, and keep moving. “Thanks,” he responds. I’ve had two beers and a glass of water, and spent $50. That’s not considered good money management by some, and yet it is. A few blocks later, I pick up a dime laying on the sidewalk. Pick up any money you find, regardless of which side is up. That’s more good money management.
Q: What is the generally accepted number of words per page for a
published novel? A: 250 words per page is generally considered to be standard.
The word total for this “trilogy,” is ~18,000 words, which is 72 pages. I’ve conceived, acted in, and then written a short story in about ten days, which instantly becomes a classic to anyone who reads it. Blacklisting this work of art, which is better than ANYTHING that will be nominated for any of the Pulitzer Prizes, is a crime against humanity. People need to know & discuss what I’ve written here, and to deprive them access to this, is to deprive them of the right to life & happiness. That won’t stand, man. This aggression will not stand.
This is the end of this story for most of you. This tapestry I’ve weaved really ties everything together. I’ll keep what happens here next, to myself and those I meet, unless there are some major outbreaks like another hurricane. The pen is mightier than the sword, and knowing when to put both down is crucial. For me, the Internet does it’s job from here. This was written to help myself, and help others around me figure their way out. It’s a survival manual, if you will, since the government isn’t handing out much that’s useful to people in need. I’ve explained everything I’ve needed to explain, and now it’s time for people to care and act on those impulses. That’s what leadership is. Now the first followers who become of primary importance. I’m signing off, until the next event calls. Side four “Reoccurring Dreams” blasting away… I’ll catch y’all down the trail. Until then, always remember— the dude abides.