APRIL 29, 2020
I am not a “prepper” but I do tend to think in that context when trying to navigate through this crisis. The whole idea of prepping to get a one-up on the next guy so that you can live longer than him. It’s part of the self-preservation process, which we all have to some measure.
My GF and myself are not routinely attached to our families. My three adult kids are in Chicago, some 2500 miles away.. and I have no grandchildren. My GF has two adult kids about 2 hours away with a couple grand kids. But the families are not close in the physical sense. So we are pretty much on our own with little or no responsibility other than to each other. If I were back in my 30’s or 40’s with a growing family I would be thinking very differently in regards to prepping for an unseen future in all this. But GF and I do have a kind of strategy in getting things prepared.
Our “prepping” actually began about a year ago… back when the forest fires were ravaging California. My fear was maybe traveling on one of the many interstate highways crossing the region and suddenly coming onto the heavy acrid smoke of a nearby fire that completely stops traffic suddenly and hard because the car in front of you is completely hidden.. much less being able to see the asphalt you are driving on. You have absolutely no idea where the smoke is coming from, where it is going, and certainly no idea how soon it might dissipate enough to see anything so you can proceed forward. The other more serious threat is that the smoke is so bad that you will ultimately have to leave the vehicle because of the choking fumes and essentially run for your lives. You don’t need to see the terror of approaching flames to prompt that move at all. The choking smoke is enough.
So as we tried to determine the kind of escape from that scenario, or even any such crisis event to force a sudden abandonment of our vehicle and go it on foot. From there we decided to put together two go-bags.. or in our case more like go-packs… one to include inside each of our two vehicles. We included the proper footwear in each bag to fit the rugged terrain of the California hillsides, walkie-talkie radios, batteries and solar chargers, jackets, hats, and personal military-style belts and pouches for things like a compass, knife, poncho, first aid, foldable safety blankets, and enough snack-type foods for at least three days (full daily meals are not needed for an escape trek).. water for a couple days, purification and filtering devices… but of major importance to us was to acquire a couple of the dual-filter face masks, goggles for the eyes, and enough N95 masks.. about ten in each pack, to give to others because in any traumatic situation there’s a natural propensity to help others.. and… helping others helps to insure a level of your own safety; we tend to help each other. It didn’t seem right imagining our steadfast donning of our escape gear and slinging our packs on and face masks… and watching the unprotected family in the next car over fade away in the smoke as we ran off.
Well, as projects go we never really completed assembling it all for nearly a year. The fires died out or were valiantly put out by the fire teams.. and our interest died out. Then when this Covid-19 crisis hit I recalled having packed away the new face masks. My very first thought as I unpacked the N95’s was that I could take one for each of us and make that last a bit for re-use… and somehow donate the rest to the local hospital. They would serve a far greater purpose for people dedicated to saving others.. and maybe us someday. But our area and local hospital fortunately has not seen the dramatic numbers of victims that has terribly inundated city hospitals. Since I only had about ten of them it didn’t make a lot of sense sending them to a big city somewhere when I likely could, given their impossibility to obtain, hand them to some needy folks in the area as I came across them… which I did.
In any event.. like most folks these days of crisis we tended to purchase “heavier” than usual… stuff for the fridge, freezer, and canned goods. More like legitimate hoarding actually. But as we had the boxes from a year ago’s unfinished fire prepping all spilled out after searching for the N95’s, we got to thinking about the future of this crisis. Odd how that is.. we sit in front of the TV, watching the news endlessly, and trying to read between the lines on what new breaking news might affect something else we need to anticipate. For us it’s been the recent meat processing plants closing and the subsequent trickle effects backwards to the farmers and cattle ranchers supplying the nation’s beef, pork, and poultry industries. Then we heard about the distribution channels being affected by those not at work to do those jobs. We got to thinking that maybe we should buy less of the perishables we generally eat for daily consumption from the fridge and get canned/prepared foods…. lots of it.
Now.. here’s the thing when one decides to prep.. you have to ask yourself, what exactly are you prepping for? Well, logic suggests you are prepping to assure your own survival for an unknown period of time. We have no family with us, hence we are just needing something for her and myself. Then we need to ask.. what am I surviving for exactly? I mean, we are both seniors, although still ambulatory and functioning in most respects… what exactly are we trying to survive for? In any breakdown-of-society scenario seniors in any condition will not fare well. Our age-related medical maladies alone will guarantee we are going to be left out on the proverbial ice flow for the polar bears, rather than be a burden to others younger… and sucking off valuable resources. The apocalypse belongs only to the young. We kinda decided for now that we would survive long enough until it didn’t matter anymore.
The best we can surmise for now is that there very well could be some grocery store shortages in food, for whatever the reason. Problems in distribution alone will assure that. The apparent scenario is one of biding time until a vaccine is mass produced and distributed. Time estimates are 18 months away… or even sooner if we are lucky. But the worse thing in this crisis is not trying to escape/avoid the tragedy of getting the disease itself but of the breakdown of the economy. This alone could foment social disruption. My GF, just today, returned from a horror trip to the local Walmart and while the employees are still maintaining their “new” separation policies, social distancing enforcement, and one way floor markers to make customers travel down aisle in certain directions, tempers are flaring between customers and employees… VERY. Arguments between customers in checkout lines, checkout cashiers arguing with customers, it’s very apparent people are on edge.. and likely on the edge. My GF was only in the store for 20 minutes and observed all that. She herself got scared when the card readers wouldn’t read the chip.. and the cashier got pissed at her. Stuff that on a normal Walmart day would get an employee fired.
As we took stock of what we might need for us old farts to buy time in the hopes that a vaccine would help save the day down the line… we couldn’t help but think of the possible scenarios that could make social encounters in public a bit dicey and uncontrollable… not to mention the stores running out of food. You can’t help to avoid not thinking if the electric, the internet, would go down.. even in our area alone. Would there be enough utility repair people to make repairs? We thought, less fridge stuff… more cans. For now we simply consume what’s in the refrigerator and freezer and save the canned goods for “that” day.
Then the other question arises… if things get a little dicey in our neck of the desert, do we consider heading out of Dodge? If so, where the hell would we even go? Her kids are near the coast.. and a lot more people and potential civil disruption problems there for sure. I have a best friend high school buddy living in a Phoenix suburb, some 4.5 hours away. He recently retired (he’s two days older than me) and got himself one of those Taj Mahal-looking grandiose 5th wheel RV trailers with pop-out sides. We’ve talked about him using that in the event him or his family members get the virus as being a perfect place to quarantine outside the house from the rest of the family, in the back yard. But him and I have discussed a get-outta-Dodge scenario where he loads up the RV and heads west to the Colorado River, I load up and head east to the same California/Arizona border. It’s fresh water. I have none in my desert and he has none in his desert. We meet in the middle. And then what?
Well, he’s got lots of guns so I suppose we could spend time killing people wanting our stuff… or the women (um.. I didn’t mean killing the women). Just like the pioneer days of the Wild West, heading westward. But I’m not quite there yet. I’m thinking a bit more short term.. until the economy gets into some balance.
I suppose for now it’s the proverbial one-day-at-a-time. We are in a can buying mode now.. and I have a bunch of those heavy plastic storage bins we can fill up. Should down the line the world recover from all this.. well, I can donate the cans to some local food pantry for the homeless. In the meantime we are completing last years “forest fire” project.. packing up two of those backpacks-with-wheels in the event we need to “escape”… from where, who knows.. and escape to? Who knows. But neither of us are too excited to head back to Walmart anytime soon. But we both carry industrial strength “security guard” pepper spray.. and a vocabulary of harsh language if needed.