When I was just 15 years old, a relative who lived in another state offered me an exciting opportunity – he said I could stay with them and work at his gas station over the summer. I was super excited about it and my parents gave the nod so as soon as school was out for our summer break, I was on a plane headed for adventures unknown.
For my first couple of weeks, I shadowed my relative throughout the day trying to learn as much as I could about how to be a gas station attendant. Keep in mind; this was in the day before self-service gas stations. We wore a uniform and when a car would pull up, a bell would clang and we would quickly head out to the pump and ask the driver how we could help. We’d usually hear, “fill er up” so we’d then go to work not only filling the gas tank, but checking the oil, washing the windshield and even checking tire pressure.
In addition to pumping gas, we did oil changes, tire repair, basic engine tune ups (replaced spark plugs), replaced fan belts, alternators and water pumps. Even if I was in the middle of any of these repairs and the bell clanged, I’d have to drop everything to run out and pump gas.
It was busy work but the money made it all worth it – I was raking in $1.60 an hour (minimum wage back then) and loving every minute of it! Then the shift work began. My relative’s station was on the edge of town near the freeway and he kept the station open 24/7. As a result, there were three shifts each day. 8 AM to 4 PM, 4 PM to midnight (swing) and midnight to 8 AM (graveyard).
Being the new kid on the block with zero seniority, guess who got more than his fair share of graves? Yep, you guessed it and it was kinda fun for the first time or two then it got a little weird and scary. I had scary looking guys steal gas and others who took advantage of a young teenager and made me wonder if I’d live through the night. I would be so relieved when the sun would start coming up over the mountains cause we all know, scary bad guys hate the light.
Since I knew I would be totally on my own during those early morning hours, I decided to make a plan to defend myself in the event any of those scary guys tried to rob or hurt me. I found an old metal vacuum cleaner attachment in the back room that I decided to make into a machete. It was about 20″ long and almost flat about half of that length.
I proceeded to make it totally flat except for the handle be smashing it in the workbench vice. I then used a metal file to sharpen one edge of it to where I was pretty impressed with my creation. Problem was, I couldn’t carry it with me all the time so I had to leave it on the workbench where it really wouldn’t have done me any good. Of course, in retrospect, it was ridiculous to consider my actually using my homemade machete to defend myself. Nevertheless, it provided a certain sense of security regardless of how ridiculous the actual application would have been.
Over the last 30 plus years, I have seen far too many examples of this same false sense of security when it comes to providing emergency food storage for one’s family. There are four basic categories these examples fall into that I’d like to address.
First – The bulk grain solution to food storage. Yes, wheat is indeed the staff of life and if it came right down to it, wheat would keep you from starving to death. Unfortunately, there are those who believe if they simply store several hundred pounds of wheat, somehow magically all their future needs for food for their families will be taken care of.
What’s even harder to understand is that most of these folks make absolutely no attempt to become familiar with or experienced at how to actually use their wheat. They have no practical way to grind the wheat, no additional ingredients to make or bake bread, yeast isn’t even a thought but regardless, this wheat provides them with this sense of security that if things really went south, they would survive – just like my home-made machete.
Second – The macho approach to food storage. I’ve run into far too many of these guys as well. These are the guys (predominantly men), who know it all and don’t need anyone else telling them how to provide for their families in times of need. They consider themselves the rough and tumble type that assume just because they like the outdoors and have bagged a deer or two in their life, they are qualified as professional survivalists and will be able to do whatever it takes to feed their families.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard these macho guys claim that if their family needed food, they’d just go up into the hills and shoot a deer and all would be well. Even if it really was that easy, I’m sure no one else would have that same idea, right? I’m sure there would be no other hunters in the woods trying to provide for their families, some of which who might be desperate enough that if they saw someone else with a deer, they might do whatever it took to take it for themselves. There’s no question, it would be an outright war in the hills for any available game. But for these tough guys, this plan is their home-made machete.
Third – The moochers. This is the group that is convinced others will provide for their needs. The couple who’s food storage plan is to go home to mom and dad in time of need rather than implementing their own game plan and preparing. There are those who feel secure relying on the possible assistance from their church. They may have received assistance in the past and assume that if things get really bad, the church will always have sufficient for their family, not considering the church’s resources may be stretched to the limit with an increased demand from many other families.
Then there are those whose intent is to rely on their friends and neighbors. I remember a Twlight Zone episode where a family was well prepared with food storage and a bomb shelter and how their neighbors tried to break in when there was an atomic bomb scare. Close friends and acquaintances became ugly marauders who, with no regard for their once friends, were doing everything in their power, including stealing from their friends to keep from going without. I really don’t understand how this group can feel secure with this type of game plan, but they obviously do.
Fourth – Mobocracy. This is the darkest and ugliest game plan of all. This plan relies on violence, theft and control by fear to provide for their needs. Taking one’s belongings and life if necessary are part of the anticipated method of operation of these thugs. These groups or gangs find strength in numbers and are devoid of any conscience or concern for others. They truly understand the most valuable commodity is food and will do whatever it takes to accumulate that wealth for both survival and power. The arrogance and cavalier attitude of this group far exceeds the macho group and they should be considered armed and very dangerous and to be avoided at all costs. Let’s hope and pray we are never in a situation where we are forced to confront such a gang.
There is nothing sweeter than the peace of mind and sense of security that comes from “knowing” you are truly prepared for most any difficult scenario. The knowledge your family will be taken care of and not have to go without is indeed priceless. On the other hand, having a sense of security that is based on false assumptions can be dangerous or even devastating when the time comes all this becomes real.