You are settled in your compound or your little town. You’ve got a core of people that are filling specific roles and trying to run things as efficiently as you can. There are a few zombies that come up to the walls now and then and they are quickly dispatched. A relatively safe feeling has pervaded your little hamlet. A communal life works, but sooner or later people will yearn for things left behind; things that only those from the outside can bring: baubles and trinkets from a world long gone, valuable parts for machines or vehicles, alcohol and cigarettes, medical supplies, ammunition, and news.
Going outside the perimeter to look for supplies or desirable things can be dangerous, you may not have the manpower to spare should trouble befall them. That’s why treating transients as those who may have something to offer your compound is a sound policy. They may have something you need and you may have a lot of things just sitting around that may be valuable to someone else. It’s a natural fit.
There are a few types of people that may come to your gate. There are people who may want to join your community. There may be those who just want a hot meal and a warm bed. There may be those who want to trade. There could be a group that’s looking for someone. A passerby may simply be asking for directions. All require intense scrutiny and questioning. No matter how hurt or desperate a transient maybe, safety of the people on your side of the wall is paramount.
Transient Holding Area
A transient holding area should be established. This area is a shelter with beds and a fire if needed. A roster of who has entered should be kept. A modicum of hospitality should be shown because they are presumably bartering to pay for the stay and it’s the decent thing to do. It is guarded and transients will be required to check their weapons. A condition of entry would be a thorough search of their person and their bags or packs. They will be allowed to bring bags or packs in so that they can trade. It’s hard to trade if your stuff is locked up.
If the transients desire to stay for a night this is where they will stay. They shouldn’t be allowed to comingle in the housing area afterhours. This could cause a number of security issues including rape, theft, assault, murder. It’s just easier to keep them away in their own area. Even after tough questioning a person’s true motives may not be made clear. There would be a curfew and all transients will be accounted for at that time. When they leave their weapons will be returned as they go through the main gate.
Just Passing Through
Transients can be important sources of trade. For those who want a hot meal, a warm bed, or to drink, a price tag is a part of any and all services they wish to partake in. There could be a place in town where they can trade in items for ‘credit’ so they can pay for whatever they want to do. They should be allowed to freely roam the market area.
There will be passersby that don’t need or want access to the compound but may be seeking news or directions. It’s important not to leak any information that may be used by those that are hostile to you. Since it could be anyone, withhold sensitive information from everyone. Information such as troop strength, resource types and how much, what kinds of weapons you have should never be divulged. There has to be clear policy on what information is okay to be given out to transients. The safety of your village is much more important than someone’s curiosity. The fact that they are a scout or spy could be a real possibility.
Merchants or caravans may seek access for just a few hours. They may want to come in, browse the market, or set up their own area for trade and then be gone. Merchants who set out their own wares should be greatly encouraged to do so. They will be a prime source for everyday things that you need, and may be trading some very important things, like a v-belt for a generator or some antibiotics.
Transients That Want to Stay
The decision to grant those who seek asylum from the wastes is a tough one. Upon making the decision, transients should be held in ‘quarantine’ for a few days. The transient holding area will suffice for this. This will ensure that if they’re bitten they will turn while in the quarantine area. They must be observed for more obvious medical issues, from simply having a cold to whooping cough. Also, if they are an advanced party for an attack, they will not already be integrated and able to carry out insurgent activities. A few days in holding could mean a lot.
Several things must be considered:
First, their skill sets. Can they fill a job that is vacant? Can they do a job better than someone who is struggling or may be filled by someone who it’s not their primary job? Just because the blacksmith does metal work doesn’t mean he’s going to be good at fixing vehicles, though he may be the only one there with mechanical skills. If a transient comes who is proficient with mechanics and wants to join it’s only logical to consider letting him stay.
Are there able-bodied people that can be part of security forces? More people will create the need for more security. Having more people up on the wall can only lead to a safer compound. Those with military or law enforcement training must certainly be considered for entry over those with borderline talents.
Are there resources to support them? The math is simple: do they bring to the table skills or abilities that outweigh their burden on food and water supplies? Is there space in the housing area?
The question of whether they can integrate themselves into a society again is key. The wasteland is a hostile place where the need for violence trumps the need for manners and civic responsibility. Can they turn off the hypervigilance and propensity for violence and be a good ‘citizen’? It’s understood that life is hard for everyone and a certain bit of leeway is given for everyone. The world has changed and therefore the rules have changed but there remains a need for a basic level of civility.
Transients bring with them things you’ll need. They’ll have news, items that are desirable, items that are absolutely necessary, and skill sets that are required for the future of your town. However, there is a certain level of risk that must be assumed and mitigated before entry is granted or information given. A sound policy that everyone follows will help ensure that people can safely enter your community and contribute.