One man’s look at flying solo
Greetings, fellow drifters! Welcome to my little spot on the Spectrum. For those tracking my travels, Shana and I just exited atmo above Asura. Got lucky and left when pollution levels were low, which gave me a good look planetside while burning into open space. Got to really see all the scars inflicted on Asura from centuries of mining. It’s strangely beautiful, actually. Too bad those mines left the world in such terrible shape otherwise.
Stifling pollution in the skies, and on the ground, criminals around every corner. Ok, that may be a bit of a stretch, but let’s just say Tram’s no place to get caught out alone at night. In fact, I planned my planetside excursion so I could get my business done and be off-world before nightfall.
For those of you wondering what business was worth all the trouble, well, this trip was more about civic duty than creds. As I’m sure some of you know, Asura is so unsafe because of the planetwide police strike. Now, part of the reason these hard-working, honest folks walked off the job is because the police don’t have enough firepower to keep the criminals in check.
So Kastak Arms has been stepping up where the local and UEE governments have fallen down. They’ve been donating weapons to law enforcement in the hopes that updated armaments will encourage the good guys to return to work. That means every once in a while Kastak is looking for haulers to do pro bono deliveries to the system. Now, I’d done the run once before, and figured I was due for another one to help these folks out.
Sometimes it’s important to remind yourself there are more problems out there than your own. But I’ve learned that knowing about a problem is only half the battle; you also have to do something about it. That’s why every few months I like to replace the normal goods I haul with the greater good. I’ve taken to calling these little charitable excursions “altourism.” Makes me take stock of what’s going on in the ’verse and figure out a way to make a difference. Even in only a small way.
It’s a little something I started doing around 20 or so years ago. By then I’d been all over the ’verse and seen enough stuff for a few lifetimes. Guess some would call it living hard and fast, but honestly, boredom was what really drove me. It’s why, after I left home, I never settled down. Just drank, drifted and dreamed. Always wondering if that next world would be the perfect one for me.
Guess you could say I was a little slow to realize that there’s no such thing as a perfect place in the ’verse. Everywhere has its own issues, whether it’s hunger in Hyperion or pirate havens in Nexus. The more trouble I saw, and the more I learned about what caused it, the higher I’d climb on my soapbox, complaining about how the government wasn’t doing enough to stop it.
After one rant, an ArcCorp hauler who was sick of hearing about it while he was trying to enjoy his drink finally said, “If only you’d put half of that energy into fixing problems instead of bitchin’ about ’em, then we’d all live in a better world.” Well, I told that guy off good, but after a few hours in the drift, chewing it over, I realized he was right. Here I was beholden to nothing and no one; screaming for a better ’verse but not willing to do anything about it. That was the moment I realized I had to put up or shut up.
Little while after, I did my first charity run, delivering donated replacement pumps to water farms outside Nedila after it was ravaged by a series of particularly nasty sandstorms. I’ll never forget how thankful those folks were for my help. I mean, all I did was deliver the stuff, but for the first time, I felt connected to the wider ’verse.
After doing a few more, I learned that just because an action is small doesn’t mean it’s insignificant. This lonely drifter, who never felt comfortable anywhere, finally felt a part of something bigger than himself. That’s when I read up on the requirements to become a UEE Citizen, because I’d come to realize my voice, my opinion, my influence on the Empire was being lost by not voting.
Now when I was younger, I never saw the sense in voting. It felt like screaming into space. More a reminder of my insignificance than anything else. But my so-called altourism had shown me that if enough people cared enough to scream at the same time, someone was bound to hear.
Finally, I worked up the brin to drop my Citizenship application on my birth planet of Vann. I hadn’t been there in a few years so, of course, the first question asked at my Citizenship hearing was why I wanted to become a Citizen of a planet I don’t live on. Well, I don’t remember my answer, exactly, except that I just shot it to ’em straight. I was born on Vann, and my kin still call it home. Just because I don’t spend every day there doesn’t mean I don’t care about it or want to make it a better place. Guess my answer worked because my application was approved. I’ve proudly voted in every election since.
Shoot … that ramble really took the scenic route to get where I was going. See, the entire reason I swung through Ferron on that run was because I’m now on my way to Croshaw. If I can, every election I cast my vote via Spectrum from my home system. It’s a little thing I do to remind me I’m a part of something bigger, but that this is the place my vote matters most. That maybe, in some small way, my choice will benefit some distant family member or long lost acquaintance on Vann. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the visit gives me a chance to pick up some Angeli-aged whiskey to stow aboard Shana and savor on special occasions.
Guess what I’m trying to say is that I hope all you Citizens listening cast your vote come May 3rd. Come scream into space with me so our voices can be heard.
I’m not here to sell you on a candidate or a political party; only reminding you of the importance of it all. Citizenship is not a right, it’s a privilege. Realize there are plenty of folks out there whose lives will be affected by the results, so the only way your vote would ever be insignificant is when it’s not cast at all.
Well, it’s been a long one, and I’m ready to rest my eyes. Until next time, this is Old Jegger signing off.