People often accuse me of making up the stuff I put on this blog. The reason is: because it’s true. Every post is based on a real incident. I just use literary license to make it more interesting—literary license is what writers call lies, just like politicians call them speeches. Today’s post however, I guarantee is one hundred per cent true…except for the parts I made up.

When I was young I knew a girl who was a big fan of communism and socialism. She said every person is equal and therefore should be paid equally and have the same benefits and success as everyone else. Certain people start out life with a better chance of success than others, she said, so why should the less fortunate be handicapped because of their starting circumstances?

I told her that success had many variables, and while you could and should guarantee equal opportunities, guaranteeing equal outcomes depresses entrepreneurs and work ethic. Even in the communistic countries, everyone did not have equal outcomes. Did she truly believe Leonid Brezhnev was paid no more than the guy digging potatoes out in the field? (Okay, I made that part up. I actually told her that her ideas were silly, she was dumb and a big poopy head.)
About a year after she graduated from high school, some people about an hour away decided to open a commune. This was the early seventies and opening communes was a common fad. My friend, of course, was one of the first ones to pack her bags and head that way. About a year later she told me about it.
The commune was a big, two-story farmhouse out in the country. About twenty people lived there, and they wanted to be as self-sufficient as they could. The house had a wood-burning furnace along with a traditional propane furnace. A big grove stood to the north of the house full of dead trees they could use as firewood. They plowed a huge garden on the south side of the house where they planned on raising enough food to eat fresh and still be able to preserve enough to get them through the winter. They also had chickens for eggs and a few other animals.
The day she arrived, they sat down and chose a leader. The group would vote on all major decisions, but they realized some problems would pop up that had to be handled immediately. They chose Bob to make those decisions. The second thing they did was pick the jobs they wanted. Some people stayed in the house to clean, cook meals and can and freeze garden produce for the winter. Some went to the grove to cut and split wood for the cook stove and stockpile enough to get them through the coming winter. Others, including my friend, worked in the garden..
Every morning she would go out in the garden, pick the peas, weed the corn and water the mariju…the carrots. At night she’d go in the house, eat and sit around with the others playing the guitar and singing Kumbaya. It went well for about a month, then one day she came into the house and nothing had been done. No food had been cooked, the house hadn’t been cleaned, and she could tell the people in the house had spent most of the day smoking carrots.
After that, less people went out to work in the garden and chop wood, and more people stayed in the house. Nothing got cleaned in the house and the only cooking they did was to make brownies. By the time the first frost came and shut down the garden, the crew of people working in the garden had been reduced to my friend and two others.
One day Bob called a meeting. He said they hadn’t put up nearly enough food to get them through the winter. The woodpile was barely enough for the cook stove let alone to heat the house when it got cold. He had planned on selling some of the carrots to pay the bills, but the group had used so much that there was hardly enough for their own use. They were kind of like the Pilgrims in their first winter in America, if the Pilgrims had worn bell bottoms, been high most of the time and listened to Dillion, Credence and Led Zeppelin songs. Bob said some people were going to have to go into town to get jobs, so they would have money to pay for food and propane through the winter..
My friend had never been afraid of a little work, so she and three others volunteered to get jobs. A production plant in town happened to be hiring–I don’t remember what kind, and I am certainly not going to just make something up. They wore plastic aprons on the job and water hit the aprons and ran down onto their feet. Everybody else at the plant wore rubber boots to keep their feet dry, but tennis shoes were all my friend and the other people from the commune had to wear. After two weeks, their feet looked like they had jungle rot from constantly being wet. When they turned their checks over to Bob, they told him that all the people working at the plant were going to have to buy a pair of rubber boots or their feet would fall off. Bob said he was sorry, but they had a lot of bills due right then. Maybe with the next paycheck they could get one or two people boots, and the next paycheck after that they could get another pair or two. Right now they were going to have to suck it up for the good of the commune. Two days later Betty, Bob’s girlfriend, was showing off the new beaded leather vest Bob had bought her. When they got their next paychecks, everyone working packed their bags and left. Six months after she was gone, a herd of wild Sasquatch attacked the commune, tore down the house and ate all the carrots. The commune broke up shortly afterward.
My friend said she still believed in communism and socialism. She just didn’t think it could work with people. (By the way, I made up the part about a herd of wild Sasquatch. It was two or three at the most.)
A couple writing things. I’m working on the last chapter of In The Lake, the sequel to In The Sticks, and then comes the editing. I will be doing a reading from In The Sticks on November 20th to help promote Kindles at a local business. County Ops is again just 99 cents at Amazon.
sticksgohplcover sm2

About thewritingdeputy

Joel Jurrens was a deputy sheriff for 26 years until he retired in 2013. He has published three novels: In The Sticks, Graves of His Personal Liking and County Ops: The Vengeance of Gable Fitzgerald. He tries to keep his blog light and humorous and sometimes downright silly.
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