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Globall War of Terror: A Day At The Races

We have a psychologist now. She has an office and a laptop, and a dependent huddled in the sprawling camp on our east perimeter. As a reward for dropping her off a stack of MMPI-2 tests and forms salvaged from our former branch offices, she has assigned me homework.

Write up a day of my life. Edit out some details, leave out names, but just write a diary of a current day.

As I type this, it is 2345 and I am in the guest office, also known as the tiny office, as opposed to the combat office with the stack of camera monitors and other systems. My files are in the combat office and I have access to it at any time I need it, but my night shift supervisor is using it and it's rude unless I need to do something specific.

The tiny office is a small cube with no storage, formerly a closet, whose only attraction is that it can be closed and has two chairs, one tucked behind the tiny desk and one sideways towards the door. We use it for report writing and one-on-one interviews. (We have set up an interrogation room next to the brig, which is much bigger. I use it for meetings only when I want to bother people, or when I really think it's going to become an arrest, at which point I have two or three burly escorts to make sure the other party's participation is timely and enthusiastic.)

I'm stalling.

At 0430 or so I get up and gear up. Uniform, load bearing equipment, armor, weapons. Then I inspect all of our posts. It is not technically my shift yet, but I am a big believer in "Stand To." An attack is likely just before dawn, so I am up and I make sure my people are alert and ready, just before dawn. To save fuel I use one of the duty bicycles. First stop is the control center, where I check out a set of duty keys. Then the perimeter, then [redacted], then [redacted].

After the round of post inspections, about 0530, I meet with the outgoing night supervisor and the oncoming day shift supervisor for passdowns. They work 13 hour overlapping shifts with an hour lunch - 0530 to 1730 and 1700 to 0600 respectively. This is our chance, the three of us, to compare notes and talk. I am there for shift change, which is 0600, when the night shift crew goes off duty and the day shift crew goes on. Until about 0630 I am in the office reviewing notes from night shift and planning my day.

At 0700 I meet with my boss, [redacted], and we go over the plan for the next two days. I meet with him again at 1900 which is when we go over what happened that day and draft the plan for the following day. This meeting is usually about an hour.

Afterwards the first thing I do is go work out. Generally my meetings with him piss me off, and I don't like working out, so that is the perfect time. The bicycle counts as my aerobic workout but this is my anerobic workout, pumping iron.

Post Firecracker, every guard not only has off-duty access to the Fitness Center at any time, but is REQUIRED to spend a half hour during their shift in the Fitness Center working out. We have a full time fitness trainer who drops everything and works with a guard when they come in during their shift. It is vitally necessary.

About 0800 or so, after a quick shower, it's time for breakfast - whatever the cafe can scrounge, which often isn't much. Whatever excuse they've come up with for caffeine is my biggest need. I am available during breakfast to talk to anyone, these are my informal site office hours. At 0900 I go in back for my standing meeting with the cafeteria manager, and I do mean standing. We have a huddle with him, Facilities, Site Ops, a recent addition of Finance, the two farmers we have relationships with, Landscaping (which is now in the food plants business) and Janitorial. This is our daily "How The Hell Are We Feeding Everyone?!?" meeting.

Believe it or not: we have teams of employees and dependents who go out at all hours of the day and night to scavenge edible plants and to hunt game. We are unable to provide them escort. They usually come back. Sometimes we can launch a reaction to rescue them if they get in trouble. More often not. We also have traps on and in the perimeter.

We are not quite at the point where we have to eat the dogs and cats. But we do feed them with the mousetraps.

By 0930 I am done with that meeting and headed to our motor pool. A quick vehicle inspection, review of the convoy plan with the assigned convoy lead and the scrounging party, and by 1000 we are rolling out the gate, fangs out and hair on fire. Yes, we pack a lunch.

The smallest convoy we run is three trucks. Monster truck in front, cargo vehicle in the center, technical in the rear. But sometimes we run as many as ten vehicles, some of them heavies.

About five days out of seven, I roll with the convoys. There are reasons. The biggest one is to make sure they come back.

We mix it up as much as we can, but when you leave from and return to a fixed point, it's hard. We mix up the destinations too but we have to run certain routes and visit certain things. The electrical connection to our property, the water lines, the gas lines, and the route from here to the freeway all need to get checked. We visit the few sites which are still 'up' - the PG&E facility and power plant, the police station, a fire station, the nearest hospital - but from a distance.

Sometimes we are able to trade. We continue to supply the fire station with recharged extinguishers, which is something we can do fairly easy with nitrogen gas on tap, and they can't. They need them, as they are still in the firefighting business with their assigned police escort. They have conveniently lost some hose line in exchange, which we desperately need and can't buy.

But we are really out there to loot. That's the other other reason I have to roll with the convoys. To keep control over our scrounging, and make sure the stuff gets back to us where we need it.

Today one of the stops is Harbor Freight Tools, which we have looted before and will loot again, right down to the bare rafters. All the 'good stuff' has been taken but there is a lot of stuff that looks useless to the ordinary person, that is gold to us. We have a whole Facilities department to stock. They have machine tools. Any metal has value to them.

The mall is another good loot point. All the good stuff, and especially anything that has to do with food, is gone. But we have over two thousand people to clothe and house ... and keep sane.

If we take the fuel truck, it leaves empty and returns full. This requires great creativity and planning, because a fuel truck is a valuable and tempting target, and fuel even for those who can pay (and we can, thanks to commercial fuel cards, abuse of other cards, wads of cash [don't ask] and at last resort Company vouchers which no one likes to accept, even at gunpoint.)

We avoid other looters. They avoid us. This is not due to any particular honor among thieves, but because we have weapons and are willing to use them. Yet another reason I need to be along.

Outside the wire we are weapons free, but ammo is expensive. I have thought of rigging an MP3 player to play the catchy theme from District 9, "Remember! A smile is cheaper than a bullet!" but I have more important things to do.

We do have powerful PA systems on the technicals and monster trucks. It's vital. "[COMPANY] Security, STAY AWAY!" really is cheaper than a bullet.

We also check a few addresses of Company employees. Sometimes we are checking to see if the house is still there. Sometimes we recover personal effects, especially valueless ones like papers and photos that the new occupants don't mind giving up - typically at gunpoint. The rescue phase is largely over, we've recovered most of the employees who are coming in.

About twice a week, I take a larger crew with me with hand tools, and we work on key stretches of road that are outside cover fire range of our perimeter. But we need to be ready to pick up tools and bail at any moment, especially if we come under sniper fire. This has happened.

We typically return to the wire about 1500. We maintain the vehicles first and foremost before we do anything else.

On the days I don't leave the wire, I am doing something really important. Typically one day is in-service training for Security and/or the Reaction Force, and one day is an inspection (read "raid and search") of the temporary encampment on our perimeter.

By 1600 I am off servicing the meetings on my scheduler. ("Available 1600 to 1730, 15 minute appointments unless otherwise arranged.") These are usually some combination of extremely urgent, urgent, wasteful of my time and downright stupid. Using the tiny office guarantees privacy and short meetings. But that's OK, I'd rather find out what the crazy employee has on their mind during a meeting than after they start waving a knife around. Not a hypothetical.

At 1800 I am there for PM shift change. At 1830, dinner, again in the cafeteria, where I see what they did with today's scrounging. But my dinner meeting is with just one person, for a short time, which I pick based on whatever problem I most need to solve.

(I hardly ever shoot anyone during dinner. It was just the once, and they drew first, and I'm no Han Solo, and I got very lucky.)

At 1900 meet with the client again. Go over the day, plan the next day, by 2000 get pissed enough to go work out again - jogging, leaving the rifle in a rack at the office, checking the posts after dark. Checking sight lines, visibility, function of lighting systems and cameras and other night vision equipment.

2100, get back to the office, turn in my keys, reclaim my rifle. This is when I get work done. E-mails, reports, reviews of procedures, preliminary investigation of incidents. Some of this requires my paper files (mostly Security and Reaction Team personnel records) and other parts require the ability to review digital video recorders, which is done in the combat office. Most of the rest I can do in the small office on the laptop.

I try to wrap by 2330 or so. A little longer today because I wrote this.

I had to donate my personal van to the cause, so I'm not sleeping in it any more. (We needed an ambulance, don't have much in the way of vans, and it has vents and a house battery and a bunk... so... ambulance.) I can't sleep in the encampment, I might become a hostage or simply not wake up. The Security building is not an OK place to sleep, it sets a bad example.

So I sling a hammock (a choice bit of loot) in a space relatively few people have access to, that is secure, dimly lighted and heated. One of the small cages in the Data Center, which can be padlocked from the inside or the outside - and is whenever I am not passing through the door. I've covered the walls with cardboard tied down with zip ties, set up the hammock between two stripped racks, and have some plastic crates for 2 liter soda bottles (otherwise useless) supporting a bit of broken table, to set my stuff on while I sleep. A power strip snakes out of the floor for my radio and flashlight chargers and my one bit of entertainment, a mobile phone now useful mostly as an electronic book reader. (The work laptop is in a safe in the combat office.)

Bonus: the hallway is covered by one of the Data Center cameras we haven't repurposed yet. On the list of cameras it is labeled "E18 Lair."

After four to five hours of sleep, it's time to wake up and Make The World Safe For Coders. Because Code Wins Wars.

Sorry, tired.

[Presses 'SEND']


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