Monday, October 19, 2009


Here in Korea, we are constantly threatened by a cruel dictatorship. You probably know what I'm talking about: the ration control system. If you're lucky enough to live in the land of Target and drive-throughs, you will probably not have encountered such a thing. Here on an American oasis in the not-quite-right desert, ration control is the law of the land. Everyone gets a ration card, and when you buy something at the BX (general purpose store, similar to a lousy Wal-Mart), commissary (grocery store) or shopette (convenience store, liquor store and video rental store), your ID card gets scanned. Every tub of oxi-clean, every roll of duct tape, every bottle of wine, every copy of 'Subversion for Dummies', and every pair of ever-bigger pants goes on your report. A person COULD shop off-base to avoid this, but the options are limited, and there are many normal American things we can't get off base, so most everyone hits one store or another multiple times a week. The cards have social security numbers on them, too, just for a little extra invasion of privacy.

Why on earth would they do this, you ask? What possibly could be the reason for such oppression? The BLACK MARKET! Ooh, sounds scary, doesn't it?? Yes, freedom and democracy depends on keeping an accurate account of my Dove Bar purchases. Apparently, goods bought on base are sometimes resold in town, throwing a wrench into the entire world economy. Oh, except the human trafficking trade, because that seems to be going strong; I don't see any ration cards being issued to juicy bar patrons. You know.... oh wait, where was I? Oh yeah, my ration card. I'm going to try to stick to the subject because I've decided my outrage, no matter how justified, doesn't get me anywhere, and it's just too, too exhausting.

So, the military tries to keep rationed goods off the local economy by tracking everything we buy. Well, except for goodies from the thrift store, and we can all be grateful for that. If you go over your dollar limit, buy too much beer, or make a suspicious purchase such as 40 pounds of beef, the bossman gets a notification and you have to go explain yourself. Fine, whatever. While I DEEPLY resent having the big blue machine looking at what I buy every month, I recognize that the military is rife with similar indignities and I have been beaten into submission. I can no longer whip myself up into a froth of indignation, because I only have a few more months to suffer. Soon, I will be able to buy an entire cart full of lentils and no one will bat an eyelash. Not that I would; those things are disgusting! Ration away, people, if it makes you feel powerful and efficient. But maybe you should take a closer look at your system. Today, I was looking at my card and guess what? It's been expired for weeks.

1 comment:

Helen said...

You mean I didn't have to go through the process of getting it renewed. Argh! Damn MPF!

Also, what'd'ya buy?