Thursday, May 27, 2004

Trail Travails #2 - Cash Calamity Creates Chaos

The second item reported in Tuesday’s traffic report was much harder to fix than a pot-hole.

Apparently, as was made clear in subsequent reports, someone driving West on I70 had stopped and was madly trying to gather a sum of cash that had somehow escaped a container in the back of their pick-up truck…

Now, there was pandemonium, with Police attempting to aid the rightful owner in gathering his capital. There were several OTHER motorists who were happily joining in the recovery. As you might guess, they were not as well-intentioned as the city’s finest. Apparently, there was serious consideration given to closing down the Interstate during rush-hour, it was so crazy.

There were several discussions on talk-radio regarding the incident. I am not going to go into the moral aspects of this sorry affair. I have stated clearly what I believe about peoples property and their right to defend it.

I am more interested in the fact that the cash was ‘stashed’ ;-) in the back of the truck in the first place.

On the face of it, this seems like, at best, unwise and, arguably, lunacy. I, for one, think there should have been SOME way of fitting it within the confines of the cab, but who knows how bulky it was, amounts were not mentioned.

Many would claim that carrying a large amount of cash is lunacy in and of itself.

But for some of us, this is not unheard-of behavior. The reports did not mention the age of the pick-up driver, but I have at least one theory.

If you are a fellow baby-boomer, you may already be ahead of me. I have, on my Father’s side, an extended family. All of his brother’s and sister’s (he is the youngest of eight siblings that survived child-birth) lived through, to some extent, two defining events: The Great Depression and World War 2.

My Father was a youngster during the depressed years of the 30’s, and never exhibited (that I am aware) the behavior I am about to describe. I also only have anecdotal evidence of this behavior in the males in my family.

One of my Father’s older sisters (the four girls came along first) was married to a man who never left the house without several hundred (for all I know thousands) of dollars in cash in his pocket. Having lived through years being flat broke; he vowed to never be short of cash again.

(There’s poor and there’s broke. Broke is fixable, poor is a mind-set.)

Another of my paternal Uncles, who never married after returning from the European theater, carried a satchel with him on his infrequent visits. This bag was stuffed with cash. Once, when I was about four (so the story goes) I was discovered with the bag opened, gleefully stuffing green-backs into the hollow base of our B&W television set.

Logically, you could argue this was the miss-guided reaction to pre-FDIC bank runs, but I think it is much more profound than that.

That B&W TV was replaced with a newer model in a few years. (I still remember this, I wanted to stay and watch the rest of the Twilight Zone. My parents actually LEFT the store and drove around the Grandview shopping center. Upon their return, I unfazed, was found in rapt attention of the airwaves. I hadn’t even noticed…) That new TV was also B&W. We did not have a color TV until I was well into high-school. Use it, wear it out. That was the lesson learned during the lean times. Put into use to marshal resources for the war effort. Those lessons were not cast aside.

I suppose I was just a naïve kid, but this was also the only Uncle I thought had served in WWII. Never heard stories of another Uncle’s service until his funeral. It was not a big deal. It was what they did.

We of the baby-boom generation have our own two events. Vietnam and Watergate.

For the alphabet-soup generations that have followed, I frankly don’t know.

None of us have the mettle of our Parents/Grand-Parents/Great-Grand-Parents.

“It was tough on the guy’s who died.” Tim (Big Russ) Russert Sr., when asked about his difficulties during his WWII military service.

Is it any wonder they have been called The Greatest Generation?



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