Martha beckoned Kenny over. “You look like you are part of the SD-LA forces.”
“Yes, ma'am, I am.” Kenny said agreeably.
“Their hands are filthy.” Martha said.
“Give them a break.” Kenny said. “Some of them have been camping for ten days.”
Frustrated, Martha decided to skip being delicate. “Their hands are covered with shit. Can't you smell it?”
“No, actually, I can't.” Kenny said.
It is a proven fact that young women have a finer sense of smell than old men do.
Kenny waved a young man over. “Hold up your hands.” The young man complied. Kenny leaned in so his nose was a foot from the young man's hands and took a big sniff. “Holy shit! How did we miss that?” Kenny exclaimed.
“Hey. Not a biggie. You have probably been busy and focused on other things.” Martha said. “The big question is, what are we going to do about it.”
“Hey kid, how come you are wiping your ass with your hands?” Kenny asked.
The kid snorted. “The toilet paper ran out after the second day.”
“Why is that?” Kenny asked.
“I overheard a couple of officers talking. They said that the original mission was for a 10 hour transit and the BOM (Bill of Material) never got updated for the longer transit.” the kid said.
Kenny shook his head in disgust. As an aside, he muttered to Martha “That is when you know organizations are rotten...when they are more concerned about CYA than in keeping people alive.”
Martha made a face. She was glad she had been wearing work gloves when she drove the Cali truck. The steering wheel was undoubtedly contaminated. She as also glad of the habit she had picked up of rubbing her nose with the backs of her gloves when it itched. It is a habit you pick up when you work on a farm. There is no telling what is on the surfaces that transfers to the palms of the gloves...pesticides, bio-hazard, even cactii spines.
The embedded journalists captured the entire exchange.
Kenny called Akemi because she was his medical expert. Akemi advised that one round of Oral Rehydration Solution be distributed that night and the team back at Escutia Farms would come up with a solution by morning.
“The only solution I can see” Akemi said “is to put up wash stations next to the ORS stations. The people coming in first have to wash and sanitize their hands and then wash and sanitize their Igloos. We are going to need a lot more of those tanks.”
Mick said, “We are tapped out. Even between the four farms we are not going to have enough.”
Akemi directed them, “Then buy them. Buy what you need and get them here. The tanks. Soap. Bleach. Buy them.”
Akemi called Kenny back. “We need a plan to enforce having the 'campers' wash their hands and Igloos tomorrow morning. Another thing you need to do is to call Commander Izzo and tell him to pass word up the chain-of-command. They need to know that this epidemic might not be as virulent as we fear but they also need to know that they are looking at a secondary wave of Hepatitis and other fecal-transmitted diseases.”
“Ok, I am on it. Have you considered that the trucks your people picked up are contaminated? Martha wanted to pass word to everybody who has been driving them to wear Tyvek suits until they are washed out.” Kenny said.
“Good points. I will pass them on.” Akemi said. “Is there anything else I can help you with?”
“It seems pretty obvious, could use some new pit latrines and a truckload of toilet paper.” Kenny said. “The other thing is chow. They are eating field rations and they are barely edible.”
“I work on the 'chow' problem. I heard you are a trucker. Can you find a source of TP. I am pretty sure I can figure out how to get them paid.” Akemi said. “Regarding latrines, we are going to split the camp and relocate in four, fresh locations. The planners already have ditch-witches making trench latrines. We could use some help getting the Cali trucks on-line. Can you find out if any of your 'campers' can help us with that? They might prefer driving to riding in back.”
“Hey Bucky...I got another job for you.” Kenny rasped into his phone.
Kenny heard a heavy sigh from the other end. “What is it this time?”
“I need a truck load of toilet paper.” Kenny said.
“Come again. Please repeat. I didn't catch what you were saying.” Bucky said.
“I said, I need a truck load of toilet paper. You know, ass-wipe.” Kenny said.
“How big of a truck load? Trucks come in lots of different sizes.” Bucky said.
“I need enough toilet paper for 80,000 people for two weeks. You figure it out.” Kenny said.
“How you gonna pay for this?” Bucky asked. “It ain't like they are going to give it to me on the basis of my good looks.”
Kenny said, “You tell them that El Patrón's number two man is asking for it. Tell them that El Patrón is on the road to Sacramento with 80,000 soldiers and doesn't want people with shitty hands saluting him.” With that, Kenny turned and gave the videotographers a big, stagy wink. “If that don't work, tell them that the man who fed 40 million Southern Cali residents is good for whatever a truck of toilet paper is gonna cost.”
In the course of 15 hours Kenny had become a media star. Everything about Kenny jangled the nerves of every producer and executive of the major networks. Their instinct was to hank the feed. Their training had them look at the viewer metrics before they did that.
Unlike old-style TV, internet feeds provide networks with instant feedback. The key metric is 'stickiness'. Do the potential viewers surf on by or do they stop and listen. Segments where viewers pause and listen command a huge premium from advertisers. The advertisers know that their messages will be delivered.
Every segment that had Kenny in it pegged the stickiness metric. To the producers, he may have been a slow-motion train wreck but to the viewers he was fresh and authentic. He spoke simply and his views were untainted by political correctness. He was everybody's crazy uncle who was crazy like a fox.
Kenny did not know of his cult status. The networks were banking Kenny segments so they could queue the most lucrative advertisers with his segments.