The earthquake video footage from Japan is terrifying and heartbreaking. Even though that island nation is still coping with the horrific aftermath, including nuclear reactors that appear to be melting down, most experts agree that the nation’s disaster preparations saved lives.
I feel a little less dumb for keeping a box of fireworks under my bed in case I need to set them off from my roof. You know, to attract the attention of a helicopter.
A friend of mine makes fun of me because I keep an emergency stash of bottled water, Dinty Moore beef stew and cigarettes in my closet. He calls me a dumb paranoid but I was raised on a steady diet of movies like The Road Warrior and I just know that the future is going to be full of tornados, tsunamis and post-apocalyptic biker gangs. I don’t think I’m dumb for preparing for the worst. He’s dumb for thinking that disasters only happen to other people.
My pal, who I’ve known since college, watches too many of those survival reality shows and thinks that all he needs during the disaster is his wits, a pocket-knife and a cast iron stomach. He thinks he’s some kind of ninja Delta Force commando, even though all of his training comes from these TV shows that feature men in the wild. Men I might add who spend more time on the massage table at tropical resorts than they do filming in the bush.
Like his onscreen heroes, my friend is prepared to eat a roach-kabob or a fistful of raw fish eyeballs. But other than that, he’s content to just sit back and not worry. He’s the sort of guy who says “no worries,” a phrase that I despise. Yes, worries. Worrying is an evolutionary advantage. I’m sure, tens of thousands of years ago, there were a bunch of cavemen on the hunt and one of them was all “Hey, you know, I don’t want to freak anyone out, but what if there’s a saber-tooth tiger hiding in that cave?” You know what? The caveman who said “No worries, dude” was probably the one that got eaten.
I mean, I’m not one of those people who think an ancient South American civilization that couldn’t figure out the concept of the “wheel” could predict the end of the world hundreds of years later. Besides, there’s no real way to prepare for a giant asteroid or other global catastrophe. In that scenario, our only hope is a crew of wise-cracking oil riggers and the space shuttle.
My college friend’s argument is simple: you can’t expect the unexpected. He is proud of his supposed ability to think on his feet and, in his words, “live off the land.” If he can live off the land the way he lives off my frozen bagel pizzas, then maybe he has a chance. My argument back is that all those guys in The Road Warrior dressed in leather and wearing steel hockey masks? They’re the ones who failed to prepare for the worst.
My friend doesn't have a plan. I do. If the poop hits the fan, I will collect my supplies and start walking, like a kung-fu master. I will try to find safety, because in zombie movies, those who are mobile always live longer than those who bunker down.
This is why I have those fireworks, and the water and Dinty Moore beef stew and cigarettes. I also have a first aid kit, a tub of aspirin, a Zippo, extra socks and underwear, a flashlight, Swiss army pocket knife and a dozen or so glow sticks. That’s not all. Somewhere in the far back of my closet is a sleeping bag, a pound or so of Halloween candy and a camouflage poncho. I tried to buy a gas mask once, but those things are expensive. In a pinch, I’ll just stuff some damp rags in an old snorkel of mine. Oh, and since I’m a Texan living in New York City, I have a baseball bat because… you know… zombies or outlaws or aliens. Seriously.
Some people believe the proverbial glass is half full and some half empty. Me? I believe the glass was never full enough to begin with.
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