Chance Encounter

I had an interesting encounter Sunday afternoon in Goodwill. I’d gone in on Friday to look for an old coffee table to paint with chalkboard paint on the top to make a chalkboard for the grandkids to write on while they were at my house (and save my walls and furniture maybe). While I was there, I noted a lot of brand-new looking W.E.B. Griffin hardback novels. Since SwampMan’s paperbacks are on their last legs (and, indeed, he bought a Kindle just so he could reassemble a digital library), we decided to go in today to see if they were still there. (They weren’t, except for The Saboteurs. At $1.00 each, I didn’t figure they would be.) I picked up a Tom Clancy novel for me.

A young Hispanic man and woman were waiting in line. He asked me about the novels and my favorite genres. He recommended Fields of Fire, said it was on the reading list when he was in the Marines OCS. I recommended “Patriots”. He asked me what it was about, and I told him it was about what happened in the aftermath of the financial shit hitting the fan. He got really serious then.

“It’s about to happen, you know.”


“We’ve got family in Nicaragua but, when everything collapses, our money might be worthless, and we may not be able to get there.”


“And it might not be any better there because it will be worldwide, this financial collapse, but they have lots of land.”

“Yeah, I’ve got a lot of improvements still to make to our place, and I don’t know if we have the time. Plus it’s waaaaay too close to Jacksonville!” I said while standing in a checkout line in a store in Jacksonville.

“Ten of us have gotten together and bought 20 acres in very rural Georgia. It has a lil’ house on it. We’re hiding supplies, at least a years’ worth for every family, and everybody has to have an AR15 with 5,000 rounds of ammunition. We have the water purification stuff, too. Too many people have nothing, and aren’t even trying to store supplies. It’s gonna get bad. We buy nothing new now.” He had a beautiful pregnant wife and a lovely little girl that was pulling a new (to her) tricycle to the cash register, along with a load of clothes and shoes that looked too big for the little girl that I assumed were going to be cached.

I told SwampMan about the encounter when I went outside with the books. “Oh, that was the man and woman with the cute little girl that came out just ahead of you? Nice looking family. So tell me again how in the hell you had a conversation about financial collapse and bug out locations with complete strangers in line to check out at a thrift store?”

It does sound a little weird when he put it like THAT.

“I think what it is that those of us that have been uneasily watching the rising debt, watching Europe circle the drain about to be sucked under by their debt, and knowing that most people are one paycheck away from disaster have tried to say something several times to friends and neighbors who have just laughed about our alarm because the rich will pay. China and Japan are threatening hostilities. North Korea has been testing missiles capable of hitting this country. Iran probably has a nuclear weapon (or several). The middle east and Africa are undergoing several armed conflicts. Our borders are extremely porous. Our economy is sinking back into recession (not that I noticed it ever coming out of the last recession), and the Obamacare debacle hasn’t even hit yet. Government is trying to seize our means of self defense and isn’t even trying to lock up crazy people, just threatening the people that are law-abiding. Now THAT’S crazy. Finding even a stranger that recognizes just how screwed everybody is going to be if (or when) the EBT card or other plastic no longer works is a happy occasion.”

At least, that was my take on it. And the young man I had spoken to had nine kindred-spirit friends that were preparing a place in Georgia for their families in case of a financial Armageddon.

“I’ve been racking my brains trying to figure out what to do”, said SwampMan.

“About what?”

“About where to go in the event of a SHTF situation. We could try to go up to the family farms in Georgia….”

“You think the folks up there in rural areas are going to let cars with out-of-state tags just pass through in a SHTF situation?”

“No, not really.”

“Guess that settles that, then.”


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