Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Installment 6.5: And the heavy lifting starts

Mick Scerba looked over at Akemi and asked, “What needs to happen first?”

Akemi said, “We need to find a way to make Oral Rehydration Solution and deliver it to up to 80,000 sick kids as quickly as is humanly possible.”

“What is in Oral Rehydration Solution? How do you make it?” Paul Nawrocki asked.

“It is pretty simple. It is 6% sugar and 900mg of sodium per liter of water.” Akemi said.

“Does it matter where the sugar comes from?” Mick asked.

“Nope. In this case, sugar is sugar.” Akemi said.

“Well,” Mick said, “you are in luck. We blend VB Very Best vegetable juice here. We have automated equipment. We have salt. Do you have any objection to using Biological Hazard Remediation money to buy a tanker load of fruit juice?”

“This is yours to manage.” Akemi said. “If that is the fastest way to get a half million liters of ORS out to those soldiers than get it done.”

Mick still liked the old fashioned desk computer. He said he could make the print larger and have more icons on the larger screen. Mick popped open one of those icons and logged onto ag-Bay. He entered the keywords 'fruit juice' and hundreds of offers came up. Then he sorted by 'delivery time to your registered address' from shortest to longest.

“Hangman Farms says they can deliver a tanker of chilled 24 BRIX Thompson Seedless grape juice in three hours. They want a 15% premium over spot price for the expedited delivery. What do you think?” he asked as a formality as he pressed the “Buy it now” button.

“I am also scheduling five tankers to show up tomorrow at three hour intervals.  They may have to walk up here to drink it but, by God, we will have something for them to drink.” Mick finished.

Then he called down to the mixing room. “Hey Sid, are you running anything now?”

“Nope. Things are slow this week.” Sid responded.

“We have a tanker of juice arriving in about three hours. The customer wants it diluted to 6% sugar and wants 900mg of sodium per liter. Can you read back what you heard so I know you wrote it down correctly?” Mick asked.

Sid sighed. Mick ALWAYS wanted confirmation. “We have a tanker of juice hitting the dock with an ETA of +3 hours. The customer wants the juice diluted to 6% sugar and wants salt added to equal 900 PPM sodium.”

“What kind of bottles did the customer order? I need to see if we have them in stock.” Sid said.

“No bottles. We are going to run it into foodgrade IBCs...those 275 gallon cubes, and truck it down to the army camp.” Mick said.

“Well, then you better find a but-load of them because we just shipped most of our IBCs out.” Sid said.

Mick looked up at the other three planners. “I need a little big of help here. Can you guys get on the horn and get some foodgrade IBCs heading this way?”

“That,” one of the young guys said, “is going to be complicated. We are on our ass for fuel and trucks.”

“Me too.” said the other young guy.

Mick looked over at Paul. Paul shrugged. “Me three.”

Akemi delicately cleared her throat. “I think I might be able to help with this. Can you line up some drivers?”

Akemi tapped in Kenny Lane's number. He was stirring vats of sticky syrup and was very grateful for the opportunity to stand straight and stretch his back. “Whatchya need?” he asked.

“I think I can get you off mixing detail but I need some information. Did Cali leave any usable trucks behind?”

“Yup, they left behind hundreds of trucks. Why?” Kenny asked.

“Do you know if they have any fuel in them?” Akemi asked, ignoring Kenny's question.

“Don't matter. They left their fuel trucks behind, too. I am sure a bunch of them still have fuel in them.” Kenny said.

Akemi said, “I am sending a half dozen drivers down to the camp. Can you show them where the trucks are?”

“I am kind of busy right now but I am sure I can find somebody to help them out." Kenny said.

Akemi hung up.
Kenny called Brigid. “Hey Brigid. I gotta ask a favor. Is there any chance you pilot can show some drivers how the trucks are laid out? They are particularly interested in the fuel trucks. Your guy can probably help them figure out which ones are going to be easiest to cut out of the herd.”

“I am on it.” Brigid said. She beckoned over her pilot and a couple of film crews. "I have some action happening with the trucks. I want you two” she said while pointing to her crew members “to embed with the drivers.” 

Then Brigid pointed to the pilot, “I want you to show the drivers video from the fly-over. That will give them the best overview of how everything is laid out. Reshow them anything they are interested in.”

Kenny went back to stirring syrup.

The planners, hearing “...hundreds... and ...fuel trucks...” did not send six drivers. They sent thirty. The drivers noted how much fuel was in each truck as they moved them to open up a lane to drive the fuel trucks out of the laager. 
They lifted up the driver's side windshield wiper of the ones with more than half a tank and parked them off to the side. In less than a hour three fuel tanks and twenty-seven flatbed trucks were heading back to Paul's and the young guy's farms to fuel equipment and to pick up IBCs.

At eight in the evening Akemi called Kenny again. “It looks like we are getting close to having premixed ORS. Where do you want us to start?”

Kenny said, “I need to have you start at the far end of camp. We have been doing the best we can but the logistics are killing us.”

“Kenny, you sound whipped. Why don't you help ramrod the distribution at the far end. Can you have them pre-stage their five gallon buckets, or whatever, next to the road. We can off-load really fast to those and then they can decant to water bottles.” Akemi suggested.

Forty-five minutes later Martha Agulara drove the first truck into the camp. She had three IBCs on it with the spigots projecting out, beyond the bed of the truck. Martha was a 34 year old, single mother of a couple of young teenagers. She was always first to sign up for any extra work. Martha resembled nothing so much as a fast moving, inquisitive ground squirrel.

Martha did not know it but she was going to make a lot of money over the next two weeks.

She drove to the end of the two-track and stopped beside a pyramid of “igloo” beverage dispensers. She hoped out to see how the unload was going to happen and was unhappy by what she saw.

Martha had straw-bossed more than her fair share of young field crews. The soldiers she saw clearly had all the signs of severe dehydration.

“All right, kiddos.” Martha bellowed. “The first thing you are going to do is drink a bottle of this miracle cure BEFORE you do anything else. Then you are going to fill a cooler and move it back to your tent. Then you are going to come back here and drink another bottle of VB's Best.”

The “kiddos” lined up and dutifully did what they were told. They did not have enough energy to argue. The film crew that had embedded with her captured it all and it instantly up-loaded to be viewed worldwide in near-real-time.

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