If you are 8 years old and your motto is "Be Prepared", you are in the Boy Scouts.
If you are 38 years old and have the same motto, you are now a crazy, Ramboesque, doomsaying "Survivalist".
That, folks, is my dirty secret. I am a "Survivalist".
If you saw me on the streets, you probably would not know. You might even look at me and smile. A slightly grey, middle aged, middle management type. You would have no idea that I have an arsenal at home that would rival many small town Police Departments. You could not tell that I have food and water hoarded in every available space in my house. It would not occur to you that , as I walk down the street, I am in "Condition Yellow", scoping potential threats and escape routes.
Why? That is a difficult question to answer. I think the potential for a world ending event is slim. I don't fear the New World Order. I believe zombies only occur in the movies. For a long time, I was happy to go to work, come home, watch TV, love my family and go to bed at night content with the world.
What world shaking event turned me into this?
Y2K? 9/11? Katrina?
None of these things had more than a passing effect on my life. Where I live, things like hurricanes, earthquakes, dirty bombs, chemical spills and other disasters are not commonplace.
No, it was a pretty simple event. One Sunday afternoon, in my small town, someone ran their car into a transformer. Lights out.
It was a summer afternoon and without air conditioning, the house quickly warmed up. My son and I went out to sit in the garage. He walked out and pressed the garage door opener button and of course, nothing happened. He looked at me as if the sky had just fallen. As I showed him the emergency door release and opened the door, it occurred to me that any survival skills I might have gained during my upbringing had not been properly passed on. I resolved to teach him what I knew at the first possible opportunity, but he was only 9 at the time, so I was not too concerned.
Then my cell phone rang. It was my wife. She and my daughter (15) had been at church and were headed home. She had stopped at McDonalds to pick up lunch for the kids and was informed that due to the power being out, they could not sell her anything. I asked if the grills/ovens were out (I assumed they were gas and would not be affected). Turns out, without the computerized registers, no one there was able to make change. Now, I was in shock. Making change manually must be a lost art.
At this point, my family expressed their concern with the state of our world. What would we do for food? How could we cook without electricity? Then my son asked a question. A question so profound that it required a moment of silence and reflection before it could be answered. He asked...
"What if the electricity never comes back on?"
The look of concern in the eyes of my children and wife were the impetus I needed. Change had to happen and sooner rather than later.
I assured everyone that the power would come back, but even if it did not, we would be alright. I took them inside and lit our gas stove with a match. I warmed leftover pizza in a skillet. I took out candles and flashlights. I explained to them to keep the refrigerator closed to preserve our food. I showed them that it was cooler downstairs because hot air rises. I had each one pack a small bag in case we had to go elsewhere.
After, we sat in folding chair in the driveway, watching the neighbors mill about assesing the situation before they hopped in their cars and headed off to the mall to find air conditioning. I made my decision, never again, no matter what the situation, would my family be unprepared. I explained my thoughts to them, and each one agreed that we needed to make a change. No matter what happened in the future, we would be ready, and we would do it together.