Saturday, December 27, 2008

SHTF Saturday

Its Saturday, so I can write whatever I feel like today.

Here is a short story, actually a piece of a story. Forget about the story line, instead see how many post-SHTF jobs and business opportunities you can spot.

Richard Lassiter finished loading the last box in the back of the trailer and secured it with tarp and rope. The other two trailers were ready and the families were climbing aboard the three trucks.

Richard's oldest son Luke and his nephew Jim were kicking their dirt bikes to life and pointed them out the open gate to the farm. Luke would ride out last after locking the gate down when the last truck and trailer pulled out.

It had been nearly a year since the Fall. That was what they called it around here at least. They called it the Crash in the Midwest, the Big Boom in California and simply the End in other places. The stories the Lassiter family heard on the shortwave helped them piece together some of what happened elsewhere. Nobody would ever know the full extent of how bad things had gone in the world over the past year.

Now, gasoline and diesel were in short supply, especially when running five vehicles as the Lassiters and their extended group of family and friends were doing early this particular morning. But the Lassiters were not one to miss an opportuntity for some trade and the chance to increase their bounty.

The nearby small town, which until last year was home to nearly 25,000 people, was the site of a new trading fair, bazaar,flea market, what have you. After several months of no commerce or trade, people were itching to get out of their homes and see what was available from nearby residents for trade or sale. And the Lassiters were no different.

As the Lassiters made their way to the high school grounds where the trading fair was to be taking place, several others made their way as well. Most had only a few things of value to trade. Others, however, were planning on providing services they knew would be in demand by survivors of the Fall.

These would be entrepreneurs all had quite a bit in common. Each mumbled to himself after the Fall, "I'm gonna be a knife sharpener, gunsmith or 'jack of all trades'. I am sure those things will be in demand". And so, they loaded up their wagons, yard carts and bike trailers and rolled them onto the fair grounds looking for business.

Imagine the looks they received from each other as they clanged, jangled and banged their identically laden carts of tools and files into the trade area at the fair.

At the same time, the Lassiters arrived. They parked their three trucks and trailers in a row length wise. Plywood board signs were erected on top of the trailers and along the sides of the trucks announcing their services, trade items and desired products of exchange. Folding tables were erected and chairs put out behind the tables.

Two young men with shotguns took up position behind the tables to provide security while the other family members, openly armed as well, setup shop.

Peg Lassiter, 19, set up tray after tray of vegetable seedlings on the two folding tables in front of her. Each was grown from the supply of hybrid seeds her father had collected over the years. They would not germinate next year which meant that today's customer would be back next season for more.

Jane Lassiter, Richard's wife, along with her niece Hope, setup two chairs side by side and a table laden with hair clippers, scissors and manicure equipment. Hope had been to beauty school before the Fall and Jane had always trimmed her husband's and son's hair. Now they would put those services to good use.

Max McCauley, Richard's long time friend, setup a bench and table with old shoes and boots. Each had been obtained from thrift stores and second hand for years before the Fall (and some scavenged over the past few months..). Max had repaired several seams and heels over the winter, had cleaned the shoes and provided new laces where needed. Now the worn, but completely serviceable shoes were going to bring Max a handsome profit for his winter's work. The shoes were organized by size and the prices clearly labeled.

Ted Lassiter, 12, was not to be left out. Piled on the ground in front of him were nearly 100 phone books and two trash bags of old newspaper. All had been scavenged and recovered from the numerous looted houses and businesses in the Lassiters area. A simple sign in front of the pile made Ted's case "Toilet Paper".

Finally, Richard pulled something out of his bag of tricks. Written on the plywood sign above his head was his shingle "Notary, witness and provider of civil wedding ceremonies - inquire within". Richard had obtained a "ordination" online before the Fall which proclaimed he was an ordained minister. Further, he had been a lawyer at one time before the Fall which might still have some revenue generating ability.

This combined with the large selection of used tools, knives and candles he had obtained from garage sales, thrift stores and flea markets which were now displayed on the table in front of him and who knew how he would make out today.

In the meantime, our dozen or so amateur gunsmiths and knife sharpeners were having a hard time finding business. One had hastily penned a sign which read "Knifes sharpened, fair prices". Another pushed his wheel barrow in front of every person he saw with a gun or knife on their belt "Sharpen your knife for ya. Tune up that pistol too".

"No thanks" was the reply which only angered and frustrated the would be business man.

Jane and Hope had a line at their "beauty shop" by this time. Of course it helped that after nearly a year, most people had uneven shaggy haircuts or ridiculously long locks hanging in front of their faces. And business was attracted to the Lassiters as twin sisters Mary and Faith serenaded the crowd with their violin and guitar duets. Music had been a stranger now that the power was out and radios, CDs and stereos were a thing of the past.

When a young couple shyly approached Richard about a wedding ceremony, the whole family stood and cheered. A time was set for that afternoon and Richard began to make arrangements. He quickly produced a silk flower arrangement and a wedding veil from his truck "Would you like to rent these for the happy occasion?" he inquired.

Two of the knife sharpeners were in a scuffle over an elderly man's pocket knife sharpening business. In the end, both were bruised and battered and the knife owner left with a dull blade.

The Lassiters were not taking old money for their wares and services. Only trade goods which were hard to get or manufacture. In particular,the Lassiters were looking for ammunition of any kind (but not to trade away, only to take in), fuel, unopened pre-Fall food stuffs, batteries and such. They also kept an open mind for "work of equal value". Why do the work when someone else would do it for you for cheaper? Outsourcing was not a thing of the old America.

When a man approached Ted for some toilet paper and offered a five dollar bill, Ted pulled the phonebook back from and asked for proper payment. An older relative sided up to Ted in case the customer became "difficult". He did not and he shuffled off with his money and goods for trade - a grocery bag of worthless compact disks and cell phones.

That afternoon, to the strains of "Hear Comes The Bride" as played by the twins, the young couple exchanged vows and Richard signed a marriage certificate, which he produced and notarized too, by the way. The couple handed over 8 rounds of 00 buckshot and a butane lighter for the services. Richard let the bride keep the silk bouquet. She looked too pretty to take it back.

A wonderful day for commerce, trade and love in the new America.

As the Lassiters packed up to head home before dark, a number of seething eyes were upon them among the stragglers lingering in the fairgrounds..

More tomorrow..


Staying Alive said...

I liked the idea of trading hybrid plants. We can learn from the rip-offs that control things now.


John said...

I know, all business works the same before and after.
Find an opportunity and a customer with a need and fill it. During tough times, those customers become more desperate!
Thanks for reading,

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