here is a line in HG Well’s War of the World that sticks with me – as the narrator’s brother attempts to flee London before the Martians overrun it, they find their carriage entering a flood of refugees, millions of them. And one of the women cries out, “What are you taking us into?”
That’s how Deland felt.
Showed up as I always do at 6:45am for setup, with donuts and trains in my car. Usually I just drop off the cruise control at the top of the ramp, swing down through the west entrance and sweep across the empty fields, hooking up to the building where a few early risers wait to get in. But today? Had to brake for cars backed out onto 441. As I followed them through the curve, I saw a long line of taillights pearled across the dark fields. Cars were off to the side in the muddy fields and people streamed along the sides of the road. It took me about thirty minutes just to push to our building, only to find the gate locked (yet show trailers inside). Finally, using a combination of Bill’s crazy phone directions and those of a couple of embittered cops, I found the true show entrance and was able to park in mud near the building. Thankfully we could contact Bob with his eighteen foot trailer and keep him out of that mess.
So it turns out FEMA was giving away money, assistance, moolah and whatever to anyone who could claim they’d suffered losses in hurricane IRMA. And even though I’m an insufferable liberal type of guy, I had to note that many of the vehicles I saw were big new FUVs, and many of the people forming in the incredible line that snacked over a quarter mile had all sorts of bling, all sorts of obesity and lots of flashy new phones, and lacked any sense for bringing hats, umbrellas (for the sun) or bottled water. Apparently the ambulances were running all day as people keeled over in the heat, all this for some give-away cash. And this, after I listened to a piece on NPR on the way in about Chinese consumer debt. Looks like the ancient pharaohs were right – people can’t be trusted with income – it has to be managed for them. Overall, I understand that 10,000 people showed up that day.
Otherwise, the show worked pretty well. We were shorthanded (I’m sure that a number of our members simply couldn’t get to the event, given the mob that was still coming in as we left). And we managed to set up the Full Monty arrangement which gave the four or five trains that were pretty much perpetually running a lot of room. Everything worked will (but there is a little scenery damage we need to attend to Monday night). Overall, we made just over $160 for our efforts (as the joke went up and down the mainline between Jax and Folkston, we could have made more if we’d left the modules at home and stood outside for free money). But yes, a good effort in trying situations by the membership – we came and set up in the face of great adversity. Thanks, guys.