Denice was at the Garbage truck depot Number 3 at 6:30 the next morning. She sought out Hector, a man who had stood out in Denice’s earlier visit. Hector was clearly a patriarch. He was older than anybody else working out of Number 3 and had a comfortable beer belly. When Denice asked if any of the workers were related it was clear that Hector’s family was by far the largest one at the facility.
She beckoned Hector over after shouting to the foreman that she needed to talk with him for just a minute.
Denice said, “You remind me of my Grandfather. I see you are wearing a medal for Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe (Our Lady of Guadalupe). My grandfather also had great devotion for Our Lady.”
Hector was surprised. “I did not know that your family was Mexican”
“He was Italian, but the Virgin is the same. No?” Denice responded.
“I feel called to share some information with you but you must only share it with your closest family.” Denice continued.
“What is it?” Hector asked.
“We have a famine coming. The walkers of last year will be like a picnic compared to what is coming. You will be OK because you have a job but people who do not have jobs, people who just came from Mexico…they will starve. You need to tell your nieces and nephews to go back to Mexico if they have a home there waiting for them.” Denice said.
“Even if I told them, why would they believe me?” Hector asked.
“Two things,” Denice said “you will take a selfie with me in the picture. The other thing is that you will tell them that the buses will start not charging fares for all routes that run south towards the border. Tell them the Price of corn and tortillas is going to start rising. Then they will know.”
Hector took a selfie with Denice. Denice drew herself up, tall and stern, like the bearer of bad news.
It should be noted that Denice visited seven depots across SD-LA over the next few days. And she only talked to one person at each location.
Only time would tell if it were enough.
The guards at the border were the first to notice.
Most days the number of people northbound across the border outnumbered the people trying to go south by ten-to-one. Not surprisingly, ten times as many agents were working the entry gates as worked the exit gates.
The week after Denice spoke to Hector the ratio dropped to five-to-one.
The week after that it dropped to two-to-one and the supervisor grumbled about having to move people to different stations. He was sure he was going to have to mothball the exit stations in the next few days.
Then on Monday of the third week the numbers hit parity and by Friday the numbers exiting outnumbered the incoming five-to-one.
They came with carry-on bags. They wore work-boots and walking shoes. Families of three, five and eight disgourged out of the buses and walked to the boarder.
The guard was overwhelmed and stopped trying to officially “outprocess” them. As far as the guards were concerned, they could keep their damned implanted chips.
Rescue missions in downtown LA and SD were swamped every night. A growing swarm of southbound migrants rode from the north LA suburbs to downtown LA every evening. They stayed overnight in the center of the city and rode from the center of LA to the southern fringes of the LA basin the next morning, then caught the southbound buses to downtown San Diego after lunch. They spent the night in downtown SD and then rode the buses first thing in the morning to the border.
The trickle turned into a torrent, then a tsunami then an avalanch.
The number rose until a quarter of a million people were hitting the 7 miles of Mexican border serviced by the SD-LA public transit system every morning. For weeks on end a quarter million residents a day walked across into Mexico and did not return.