By: Chris Warren.
Yeah, it’s a hassle to shovel snow and be stuck at home, but most people make the best of “snow days.” Snowstorms are seldom serious disasters. We come out of the mess unharmed if not relaxed from the unplanned day off. The kids especially love it because they don’t realize they’ll have to make up the missed school day another time.
These small pleasures are unknown to people whose jobs don’t get snow days. Public safety and medical professionals come to mind first, but there is also the unseen ones who keep the lights on and the water flowing and the internet up. There’s no yippee I get a day off! moment for them. After all, we can live without pizza delivery and Starbucks for a while, but no one likes to think about what they would do if the infrastructure that makes modern life so comfortable suddenly wasn’t there.
Seeing this is as only about snow misses the point. The bigger picture is that high profile calamities both natural and man made never fail to beat the hell out of us year after year. Twenty First Summer has before attempted to stress how sensible personal disaster planning does not mean a last-minute run to the store to grab up all the milk and bread one can carry. Still, hardly anyone gets it.
There is a well tested theory that society is “nine meals from anarchy.” What it teaches is that the average person has only three days’ worth of food & water in their house, after which time they will turn to violence to meet their needs, or become the victim of violence themselves. Government relief efforts may extend this period somewhat, but if the crisis is not resolved fairly quickly, the only endgame is chaos. I’m not making this up or exaggerating. There are dozens if not hundreds of real-world examples.
I’ve been called a kook and worse because I refuse to accept that “shit hits the fan” won’t happen, and even if it does we can all sit quietly and wait for the government to save us. What my detractors can’t see (or don’t want to see) is that the people who do the saving have their own lives and priorities to think about. There is not a single doctor, firefighter, or soldier anywhere who is going to leave his or her own loved ones vulnerable to go help a stranger. I don’t say that to be disrespectful or question their sense of duty; it’s just a simple acknowledgement that sense of duty weakens the farther one gets from their own front door. If relief workers have to make a choice between everyone else or their families, we’ll all be kicked to the curb. Can anyone blame them? I am that stranger. So are you.
The obvious choice is not to be the guy running through the store grabbing up bread as the world outside becomes unglued. Or the guy standing in a blocks-long line to get a jug of drinking water. There is a very real possibility that a crisis will last longer than the help is willing to hang around, or be so severe that help never arrives in the first place. To those who think being prepared beyond a flashlight & first aid kit is the province of paranoid nuts with a basement full of freeze dried food and more guns than a South American dictator, let me put it in terms you can relate to: Rescuers and first responders are not going to care about you more than you care about yourself, and they certainly are not going to care about you more than their own families. Plan for the unthinkable as if you were the only one who cares, because when shit gets real, you’re the only one who will.