Prepping Like There’s No Tomorrow
by Theresa Bane
Somewhere between the statements “it takes all kinds,” “better safe than sorry,” and “crazy is as crazy does” is the National Geographic Channel’s television show “Doomsday Preppers.” In this reality based show Nat Geo gives you an unbiased snapshot into the lives of some fellow Americans, people who are, as the show’s name implies, preparing (or “prepping” if you will) for the end of the world as we know it. Wild, right?
If you have not watched any of the episodes I suppose you can get the first season on Netflix by now. To be perfectly honest, if you see one of these hour long episodes you’ve seen them all. Formulaic in its approach, each episode begins by introducing you to the two or three different families being featured. In their own segment and in their own words, the family explains what particular disaster they feel will cause the demise of America, mankind, or civilization. Surprisingly these people speak, if not eloquently, at least intelligently as they are highly knowledgeable in the subject at hand.
The family next explains why they believe their hypothesis to be true and how they came to the realization they are powerless to prevent a global disaster, short of prepping for the event. After giving this bit of background information the rest of their segment is strictly devoted to the family showing off the preparations they have made to ensure the safety and longevity of their family. This usually consists of individuals showing their bug-out bag, stock piles of canned foods, and their fully stocked gun case and ammo stores.
About half the families have a “get the heck out of Dodge” routine they practice and drill, timing how long it will take to grab their bug-out bag, hop in the car and literally head for the hills. The rest of the families dig in and secure their perimeters, fully prepared to defend what they have with lethal force while waiting out Armageddon. Each segment ends with an “expert assessment” of the family’s stock pile and plans, offering suggestions on how to improve their chances of survival.
Admittedly, I am not a fan of the show; I find it depressing, sad, and exploiting people who have taken “alarmist” to a whole new level. However, since I am being honest, not only have I seen every episode but also the episodes of similar knock-off shows which pop up on Discovery Channel, History, History 2, OWN, and the like. I have no rational explanation for why I watch “Doomsday Preppers” and similar shows. I know I get something out of it; I’m just not sure what.
Sometimes as I sit there watching a mother of three teaching her children how to clean, load, and shoot a gun, I think to myself, “there’s a skill I wish I had,” but not at that price. As neat as it is to be familiar with a firearm and unafraid to use them, these Prepper children are also raised in an environment of fear. It’s one thing to know how to use a gun and recognize one day you may be in a situation where you have to pull the trigger, but it is another to drill it into the kid’s head that any moment now the other shoe is going to drop; that when the non-preppers show up in droves to take what you worked hard to accumulate, you are going to have to gun them down as if they were a hoard of marching zombies. Normally I would ask in indignant outrage “Where are the parents?” but the point is moot.
And yes, there was an episode with a family who was prepping for the zombie apocalypse. It was one of those knock off shows, maybe, “Livin’ for Armageddon.” The family consisted of two women who met by accident when the man they were each dating slipped up and let his two girlfriends meet. The women became instant best friends and found they had a lot more in common than bad taste in men-they each lived in fear of the day the zombies would get them.
The women were not sure how zombification would happen, be it a loosed government experiment gone wrong or a germ introduced into the atmosphere via one of the many meteors that crashes into our planet every day but these ladies decided to draw a line in the sand. Determined not to be brain food, they pooled their finances, moved in to a “zombie safe home” they can lock down when the time comes and began to stock pile resources. Because they are both collecting disability from the government they subsidize their income by hosting yard sales and selling handmade crocheted items on the internet. When the episode aired the women were saving up to buy a gun. Besides the need for bullets the BFFs are concerned about having enough of their meds to ride out the storm-one of the women takes mild psychiatric drugs and the other is on hormone treatments to maintain her apparent gender. I don’t know what I find more annoying; they are on disability and using the money I pay into it to prep for a zombie apocalypse, or the fact two people who are afraid of being attacked by zombies have yet to buy a gun.
But I digress.
So far, not a single family featured on “Doomsday Preppers” has ever considered trying to prevent the apocalypse. Maybe those Preppers never make it on the show, maybe it does not make for good TV; but on the other hand, what can really be done to prevent the Yellowstone super volcano from erupting and evaporating everything west of the Mississippi River from Canada to Mexico?
Preparing to outlast whatever doom is set to befall cannot be inexpensive. As a person who has to monitor the household thermostat with a Nazi-like authority to maintain an electric bill I can afford to pay each month, I am far more interested in where the hairy heck these people are getting the money to prep like there’s no tomorrow.
Every single one of those smug Prepper folks say at some point with a dismissive wave of the hand “Oh, it started off with me just picking up an extra can of soup each time I went grocery shopping.” Then they giggle. To that, I say “Shenanigans!” No way did you go from one extra cabinet of back-up soup to building an EMP proof bunker under the foundation of your home. I want Doctor Phil to sit down with one of these families and figure out what caused them to have so much fear and dread.
Prepper folks have steel construction storage buildings or secret underground bunkers filled from floor to rafters with alcohol, antibiotics, bullets, canned food (both store bought and homemade), defensive explosives, guns, precious metals (gold and silver) for bartering, MRE meals, seed caches, and water. I can’t get antibiotics when I am sick unless I drag my uninsured butt to a doctor, beg for a prescription, and then shell out mega-bucks at the pharmacy. If I can hardly get a weeks’ worth of penicillin when I have the flu, how are they stock piling the stuff?
Preppers also create self-sustaining food production systems in their backyards. How can they have chickens, goats, and tapatia ponds in their suburban yard? I can’t have a second dog in my apartment no matter how much deposit money I pay let alone a pony inside city limits. How is it they can have a pack of security trained guard dogs patrolling the property inside their gated communities?
With Doctor Seuss-looking water filtration devices in their homes when a Prepper has to “make water” they literally “make water by “relieving their bladder” in one end and drinking home-made water out of the other. Maybe I have never been truly thirsty in my life, so while I can, I’ll poke fun at them and their bleach filtration system.
Preppers are not rich people; their money is not coming from high power paying jobs because they all seem to work at Wal-Mart. Even with an employee discount, which Wal-Mart gives but once a year I am told, they still could not afford everything they have AND have the time to develop their doomsday survival skills. Maybe they missed their calling; I would like to see them get a government job where they can apply their amazing accounting, budgeting, and purchasing skills to get our country turned back around.
I suppose it’s a lifestyle choice: work as a power executive or develop close combat fighting techniques; learn how to construct primitive tools, traps, and weapons; how to identify edible insects; panning for gold, and a score of other urban survival techniques.
In case you are wondering what exactly these Preppers are prepping for, I’ve prepared a list of their worst case scenarios for your reading pleasure. I know there are more possibilities listed here than there were families interviewed for the show but it’s because they often times had multiple Armageddon’s happening at once. For instance, when the EMP bomb goes off it will destroy all the computer chips that allow for the operation of the engines inside the trucks that are used to ship food thereby causing a food shortage. This in turn would start a cascade effect triggering civil unrest and economic collapse, followed by a fuel shortage; and then possibly the eruption of a super volcano.
Presented in no special order, the end of the world may occur by any one or a combination of the following: airborne flu or bird flu outbreak on massive scale, Chinese financial takeover, civil unrest, the collapse of society due to peak oil prices, the collapse of the industrial food system, a national depression based upon America’s massive “debts,” detonation of a dirty bomb, general economic collapse, electrical grid failure, end of the Mayan calendar (whenever it may be), financial collapse, general food shortage, general fuel shortage, Fukushima-irradiated future, global chaos caused by hyperinflation, global pandemic, long term electric failure, massive earthquake, nuclear war, overpopulation, polar shift, rising sea levels created by global warming, worldwide pandemic, and zombie apocalypse.
No one seems to be too concerned about an alien invasion. I guess it’s just too farfetched.
by Theresa Bane