“There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.”

― Frank Herbert

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Maybe you just can't keep a secret in a small town.


I went out for dinner last night, just a quick ride out to this place we found by the lake.  It wasn't crowded and it was a nice , tranquil place for a quiet meal.  After I ordered, two young men came in the door. I recognized them from the gun club.  I only go to one meeting a year, you have to make that one , it's the safety lecture. The rest of the monthly meetings I skip. You do get to know people at the range though. I haven't been going like I used to, but while I didn't know these fellows by their first names I knew their faces and "clans".  There are families that have been up here since the 1840's, a special group that anyone who lives in a rural Southern community will instantly understand.

They came over to "visit" and asked if they could join me.  I have absolutely no capacity for small talk, and I have a profound and amazing ability to say things that I mean well, which come out wrong and offend people. On the other hand, you can't say "no" without being spectacularly rude. So I asked them to sit.

I needn't have worried, neither of these men had any problem with conversational skills.  They wanted to tell me all about this gentleman they knew from the club.  He was "one of those folks that stores up food and guns and ammo and such..."  I thought they were talking about me, and I wondered where this was going. It was a bit of a shock.

But I was wrong.  They had been over to another club members house, to look at a gun he wanted to sell.  He took them into his basement to his gun safe, and they saw copious quantities of MRE stacked up, and pails of long term storage food.  Once they asked about it, he was apparently pretty open with them. The man seems to be an old school survivalist, and apparently has been for many years.  I've known this fellow myself to the extent that we "throw up our hands" at each other if we pass on the road, but that's about all. He's not from the South, retired from FEMA , and talks too much while people are trying to shoot. That's all I know about him.

But listening to these two younglings, it seems "John" is a full scale , long term, survivalist of the old school. They tried to repeat what he told them about economics and his motivation, but it was sadly garbled. Neither of the men I was sitting with had the slightest grasp of the standard topics survivalists talk about among themselves, or had ever read anything about them.  But it struck me that it wasn't going to be long before everyone in the gun club, and their wives, and their kids, and the people at church, all knew everything there was to know about "John."  I wondered if he was recruiting for a group. Both of these young men were tough, honest country people with all the requisite skills you'd look for if you were building a band of merry men (and their families) for a post collapse scenario. Both were locals, from large extended families in the farming community.  Maybe they lacked discretion but no one is perfect.

One interesting thing that was said surprised me.  One fellow looked straight at me and pronounced "he's like you , he hates the government too."   How could he possibly know how I think on that? I'd never had a conversation with either of these two other than to talk about guns. I certainly don't talk politics at the range. All I can think of, is that when I worked at the general store, at the gun counter, years ago we used to talk politics. These two young men would have been kids then. But it must be that I got tagged back then, and it's just filtered on down through the years.

Over the years, from time to time, I've had people here to do things I couldn't do for myself. I wonder how much of what they saw has gotten around. The firemen who had to come put out the chimney fire a year ago at Christmas saw everything, because the gun safes, a big store room, and the "radio room" are all down on the same level as the wood burning stove.  Maybe I've been kidding myself about the level of my operational security all these years. Maybe I don't actually have any operational security, and just never knew it.

Not much I can do about it now though.


35 comments:

  1. Hmmm, not sure what to say about that. Is it possible that some of the older crowd read any of your previous blogs?

    Also remember how that on your last blog you had a couple of us go through your blog to see what info we could gather about your particulars? I'm sure you remember the results. It doesn't take much for someone who is dedicated to put together a good profile of someone. A photo here, a few sentences there, or in town.... a few comments said in passing.

    Not realizing it, those boys did you a favor.

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    1. I doubt these guys own a computer. Even if they did, they have no real interest in politics. Big trucks,yes. It seems more likely that I worked at the gun counter with someone who was related to them. Don't guess it really matters much about my politics, they are widely shared here.

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  2. Don't say anything, say too much, say just a little. Any of those can say more than we want.
    If it comes down to it and we need our preps and the world has gone to shit, we will just have to deal with it as best we can. Nobody will get anything unless we are dead, and then we don't care. I think for the most part if you ride the middle ground of not saying too much then all will be OK.
    When a lady at the store asked me why I was buying powdered egg whites (available locally, I was amazed) I told her it's for my protein shakes so I don't waste the egg yolk. So may reasons for everything, the truth or not.

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    1. I've lived here so long that even though I don't mix much with people they get a feel for me. The population of full time residents still remains pretty small so you can't bask in the anonymity of large numbers.

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  3. My dad came from a small town in central NSW, Canowindra, and he always said there are never any secrets for long in a small town environment! It is human nature to "gossip", however only about half of what is talked about is ever accurate.

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  4. I wouldn't worry about it. I've been pegged for years. Sometimes our silence is loud.

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    1. It was a bizarre and aggravating experience.

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  5. Ah small town life, its like the TV show Cheers, "everyone knows your name" and business. But your chance of survival goes up vs living in the city. How many folks will go up the mountain??

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    1. I never saw that show but the sentiment is correct.

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  6. I don't know what to say except do not cry over possible spilt milk just do what you can going forward.
    Perimeter security is important, game cameras or the like need to be included, you are not always home. Maybe a home security system that emails or texts you if someone is in the yard and or house? Aint nothing but money and there is never enough.

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    1. I have a fairly adequate security system. I'm not so much worried by this as I am annoyed by being talked about.

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  7. I wouldn't worry about it. To some everyone will be a target to others no one will be whether they know what ya got or not it won't make a difference. You are remote enough that those who would target you have plenty of easier game before you come up on their list.


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    1. They just knew about my politics, I don't think they associated me with the survivalist aspect at all. I may have talked politics locally but never life style related matters, if only because I don't want to get involved with local people on that.

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  8. and Harry - this is why i always harp on you moving up here with all yer stuff and yer kids. we know everyone in the nearest 8 communities and that totals about 9,000 people. only 9 people have been to our property and 3 of those were kids. but let me tell you - everyone in a 50 mile radius knows ALLLLLL about us - we're sweet, we help out at all the functions, dances, benefits and events, we're very friendly but live up on a high hill with a driveway no one will bother to drive up, we dance to every song at dances, we always bring food, we're weird city nudists - and although that may have turned some of the people off in the beginning - now they just accept it. oh, and crazy of all crazies - we like to grow our own potatoes and carrots. we're like bonkers or something!

    but they love us. and they'll protect us. and all of them have guns and think nothing of it, none of them have ever heard of survivalists or preppers, they all hunt EVERY SINGLE YEAR and they are all fishermen to boot. they think we are strange little oddities but love us regardless. you would so fit in up here. start packing buddy!

    oh one last thing - everyone here has families that have been here for at least 200 years. there are no secrets here. teehee.

    much love to you and yours. start packing. your friend,
    kymber

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    1. That's a really nice place up there and good people. But if I wanted to come live there the Canadian government wouldn't let me, and they wouldn't let me bring my little friends. You and J are lucky you live there.

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  9. I so understand what you are saying. We live in a mere grease spot in the road, if you take out your trash to the garbage receptacle everyone knows. If you hide inside the house or out in back they come to your door to ask why you aren't outside in the front. I need 500 acres in the middle of nothing.

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    1. Even with national forest on three sides of me and woods on the fourth you still wind up interacting with people to some extent. I know people here from having flown in the Civil Air Patrol, working at the gun counter of the general store, and being in the Sons of Confederate Veterans. I guess no man is an island even if he wants to be.

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    2. Well, who knows. Maybe some day you can move to the High Desert in Oregon. It's really beautiful and there's plenty of places out there a fellow could set up and never see another person. You would just need to have a pension or something, because there's no way to earn a living.

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  10. I'm rationalizing in all my responses here I see. In actuality this was a disconcerting experience.

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  11. Harry, I understand the feeling. I'm not at all low profile and my OPSEC sucks. I know this and it's just how I choose to do things. But having the plumbers in my basement to do the work to replace my water main made me very uncomfortable.
    No way around it I needed the job done. I use a a lot of tupperware type bins and hopefully the plumbers just think I'm a bit of a packrat.

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    1. I don't think anyone would be comfortable with having people they didn't know in their house, after all it's the last bastion of privacy for most of us, and the last place where we have any say in what goes on. Sometimes, you need the help of professionals and then you just have to hope they aren't chatty about you. That's asking a lot given human nature though.

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  12. Harry,


    (captaincrunch)

    My opsec is blown also.

    I do have an one bit of advice that may help.

    First, whats the point if surviving is everyone else is dead.

    Second, if those to big truck redneck kids were having dinner with me, I would have said. Okay you have an idea of what I am up too. Maybe you should do the same thing. If we get really bad weather, you wont have to leave the house for extra food and gas etc. You wont have to rely on the government, fema or being told what to do by someone.
    Turn this into a teachable moment and take a leadership role. Maybe you can save those two kids a whole lot of hart ache and pain and suffering with a little preparedness training or words of advice.

    there are a whole of lot of prepper/survivalist types in my area. Mainly due to hurricane preparedness most of all. I think in your area Harry, there are much more than you realize.

    On another note, I am concerned now that kymber said that her and her husband are "weird city nudists"
    If they surf down here like that, they will scare all the sharks away:(

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    1. Well, CC, I can't think of many situation where I would survive and no one else would. I think it's more likely that you'd see a die off with the better planners and stronger people still around. If an asteroid the size of the one that got the dinosaurs hits us, it's probably going to be bad for everybody. It's likely to be an all or nothing scenario. Besides, you don't seem to be a big socializer so I don't see you casting yourself off the end of the pier if everybody croaks but you.

      You can't talk like a survivalist without it being pretty clear to people you are one in short order. It's bad enough they think I'm a Ted Kaczynski fan, but I sure don't want to rope in the other things I'm trying to keep quiet about. I guess we just have different thoughts on these issues. You are a lot more extroverted than I am, and you are a lot more mobile. So I think you can afford to be less concerned about what you say and do. I'm fixed in place, come hell or high water, and I think the less people around here know about that, the better.

      I think Kymber and J are "naturalists" and they have their own private place and their own private beach. I'm sure there are beaches down there that cater to that life style, aren't there? I know there are in California because my youngest brother went to one near Camp Pendleton, in the buff, and fell trying to climb down the cliff to the beach. He serious skinned up his derriere, so it ended up unhappily.

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    2. Harry,


      (captaincrunch)

      I'm not as mobile as I sound and I have no where else to go. If I was going to bug out, I would need a Winnebego with a trailer as long as an older Chevy Suburban.

      Yeah' I may be more extroverted, but I also anger a lot of people because I really don't go along with 'group think' and I say what I think and that 'rankles many people'

      On the beach amongst the surfers, I have an reputation as an oddball and an assh*le.
      Again, I am fully independent minded. My next door neighbor who lives in the rent house next to me is a 43 year old "Pothead" surfer with two young kids and a wife (also a pothead) and they throw parties all the time and I never get invited (I would not go anyway) My neighbor knows my view on how worthless and a waste of time pot smoking is so even in the surfing world, I am a social pariah' for standing my ground on certain issues.

      I do run with some older surfers that are not potheads and lead more productive lives.

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  13. Interesting. Given the state of lawlessness that abounds in this country, I / we are always aware of what is visible when anyone visits. If it's none of their business, then why do they need to see it?!

    Perhaps it may be an idea to partition off those three areas you mentioned near your wood stove?

    Just in case you have any unexpected visitors at some stage in the future...?

    And, I agree with captaincrunch said re: turning the moment into a learning experience. I wouldn't have thought along those lines either - I tend to react as you do, instead of being proactive. Thanks, captaincrunch - you've given me pause for thought. :)

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    1. Dani,

      Regarding that "teachable moment thing"

      I always bring up the local disasters, hurricanes for my area in discussions and stay away from "tin foil hat" theories even though I have a "Reynolds Wrap" tin foil baseball cap.

      The Mormons have the right idea. Stuff like Job loss, weather emergencies, disasters etc, etc. when they talk about "rational preparedness" you could say.

      If Katrina hit my area, I would never have to stand behind a 'deuce and half' begging and fighting over MRE's and cases of bottled water. I would also help my neighbors being that my OPSEC is blown. Why not. I have seen starving kids in East Africa. No point in letting my neighbor across the street who has a three year old girl and eight month old girl suffer from malnutrican.

      I purchased most of my food stuffs from a Mormon cannery and I purchased a large amount of powered milk for all the kids on my street. Yeah' my be supplies will run out faster but we got plenty of feral cats, possums, feral hogs, fish in the gulf of Mexico to eat. I live in a semi-rural area kinda so its not like being in one of Michelle Obama's Urban Food Deserts.

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    2. I've thought about covering some of this stuff with canvas tarps for exactly that reason. My biggest storeroom has the wood stove chimney going through it, Dani. It was glowing red hot. The firemen saw about 100 pails of long term food storage, cases and cases of canned food, about 15 rifles, and wooden cases of ammo. They were good guys and didn't ask me any questions about it but I can't help but wonder if any of them bruted it about when they got home. That was sure unexpected company. My outbuildings are stuffed with supplies and equipment, but I guess I could put tarps over that as well. I've been toying with that idea, can't think of any other way to hide the stuff if people come in there unexpectedly.

      I bet that anonymous above is Captain Crunch. I can't believe there are two people on the gulf coast who think about eating cats.

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    3. Harry,

      (captaincrunch)

      Yeah' that was me....

      I bet many of those firemen went home and were thinking about starting their own storage program.

      Instead of breeding meat Rabbits, maybe I will breed meat cats....



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  14. It's frustrating when people unexpectedly know your business. I wouldn't like that either.

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    1. You are right, and I don't deal well with frustration. I'm sure this was no big thing, I just could have done without it.

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  15. I understand the feeling about having people talk about you when you don't know about it. As far as firearms, I'm sorta halfway out of the closet at work, talk about them some but never use the words, "I have."
    Once at our company's skeet range, a fella said something along the lines of alllllll the guns that I (me) have. I asked him how he knew I wasn't just some "wanna be?"
    Up to that point I had shot on company property just once or twice and one of those times was using a borrowed A5.
    Being a conservative, a prepper, a gun person and anyone with good sense all have 1 thing in common the desire to be left alone and a do unto others attitude. Your desire to be left alone and your courtesy towards others of the same has been violated. I understand. I don't know what to say that might salve that feeling.
    I will say that I am having to learn to be more vocal about political things, despite my feeling we are screwed no matter what, ha ha.
    As far as the prepper thing. Once, in another life, I was in the "militia" here in SC. I met a fella from near me and we went to a gun show soon after. The simple thing of him pulling out a NEW wallet when he was paying for something had my nerves on edge thinking he was a fed or informant. But we have to be like that for obvious atf/fed reasons.
    Also, I don't doubt it happens, but if the FD ratted you out........ If I was in that position I'd treat it like a Dr/patient thing, but there is precious little integrity in this world.

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    1. There's nothing wrong with being in a militia. They're like everything else, some are well organized and well led, some are for fat guys to dress up in camo and run around the woods on weekends. Just depends on who you happen to link up with.

      It's hard to trust people. There's an old joke about a Ku Klux Klan meeting where of the ten people in attendance, three were FBI, one was ATF, 5 were paid government informants, and the last guy was a Mexican who walked in looking for directions.

      I write letters to politicians and go to town hall meetings. I don't think it does any good but it can't hurt and only costs me a stamp.

      I know when most people want to talk about guns they are just making innocent conversation and are truly interested. Still, in a situation like you mentioned I'd feel wary too. Since I'm already on the FFL list and the concealed carry list, I feel like some of the burden of worrying about "them" is off me because "they" already know.

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  16. Small town, short list.

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