Fingerprints weren’t good enough anymore; signatures counted for even less. Money had value, but only if you had the password. You walk up to the counter at DQ, say , “Gimme a Blizzard!” Lay your money down and they don’t make a move to fill your order until you lean over and whisper the PASSWORD. Your jaws get tight, your hands form fists, but then in a moment, you relax. There’s no bucking the system. Your shoulders slump, then you yield. You’ve gotta have it, whether it’s a Blizzard, a gas fill-up, whatever. Whisper into the speaker at the gas pump; only then do you hear the gasoline sloshing into the tank.
How did all this start? It was some sort of mass paranoia, I guess. People were convinced that they weren’t getting ‘their share’, they were somehow privileged but not receiving their just due. Someone was always nudging them out. Someone not worthy, someone not really deserving. A foreigner, a union worker, a non-union worker, whatever. A new neighbor, a new employee at the plant, the mailman on the block was not someone you knew, not someone you could trust.
Birthdays are one way to receive the password. You get old enough, you’re in the club. The phone rings or a message slides under the door, a package is dropped on your desk at work. NOW you have the current password, life can go on. Lucky thing, the groceries were starting to run low and the kids need school supplies.
Password Central has the control. If someone is deemed undesirable for any of a thousand reasons they’re off the list. Instead of the password they get the name of a city. That was it, out. Pack up the furniture, load up the car, try to borrow a truck, anything to get to the new city that would provide you with the password. You get there, the job hunt starts – there are no guarantees, you just have to stay on board until the ride ends.
How did it come to this? I feel so trapped. The way ahead is a long scary tunnel and there are disturbing sounds ahead in the darkness. My family and I huddle together in fear. Today a message: “Omaha”.