The Reluctant Prepper, by M.R.

Most of us, “preppers”, know that all our time, money, and hard work will only pay off if we are able to keep, use, and protect what we have. My prepping beginnings came in a somewhat odd way. It began with a small kit to keep in my SUV after following a major news story here in the Pacific northwest about a family from California who got lost in the backwoods while trying to drive from California to Oregon using back roads in the dead of winter.

Slowly as the pieces were put together it was learned that the family– a mother, father, toddler, and infant– had picked up some maps from an information center and mentioned the route they wanted to take. Against the warnings of the staff who gave them the maps (supposedly the family were told that route was impossible to make with the winter snow and locked gates), they decided they could make it. So with some snacks they bought at a gas station, they set off on their wonderful and exciting adventure. Sadly only three would survive long enough to be found by search and rescue. There were many valuable lessons in this unfortunate situation.

While stuck in the snow, the mother decided that she should attempt to breastfeed both children, even though the toddler was well past the breast feeding age (contrary to those over at Newsweek). So now the family technically have two mouths to feed as the mother feeds the two children.

As they waited for someone to find them, the father decided to light the spare tire on fire in hopes that with all the black smoke emitted, it would be noticed. Once all tires were burned the father followed with burning as much of the car as possible. Fearing no one was coming the father decided he would try and walk out and get help. Sadly, not long after he left, the family were spotted by air and rescued. The father was found a few miles away dead from hypothermia.

I am sure all of you who read this will see the lessons one can take from the poor family’s nightmare. Shortly after they were found I began replaying the situation in my mind, as if it were me. From there I soon found myself inside REI putting together, while not knowingly, my “get home bag/box”. From there it snowballed, and soon my family started teasing me and nicknamed me Dale Gribble.

Now I had a kit for each season and decided I should have kits for my house. I had officially fallen down the rabbit hole.

After a few years of slowly building up my preps, I found some TEOTWAWKI books and was hooked. JWR’s three books were the start. Needless to say the teasing really took off.

Soon I became truly fearful for those around me who would be “up the creek” and I would be right beside them, because I love them and would not nor could not turn them away. Hey, I am fighting every day to pay my own bills and keep my head above water, but I do have a few years of food, water, medicine, defense materials, and pet food for my pets and me.

From there I became a bit angry with those closest to me, seeing as I am beyond poor compared to them and I was able to do all this without a single hand out from them or the government. I soon decided that instead of staying mad I could begin working out ways to get them prepared without me buying it for them and without them knowing they were prepping.

Take my older sister, Sarah, who was the one who started the Dale Gribble name calling. She works in downtown Portland, spends more on shoes and clothes than I can even fathom, has horrible asthma, and even an allergy to the cold. That’s no joke! Take her down the frozen food isle and if she hasn’t taken an allergy pill, the girl breaks out in hives and blows up like the blueberry girl in Charlie & The Chocolate Factory. After I have almost peed my pants laughing at the sight of her, I pull out her epi pin and enjoy the fact that I get to stab her in the butt with it. It’s so satisfying! The last time I had to do that to her, I decided I could use this to my advantage.

I told her to give me $50 so I can go to Costco and buy her five years’ worth of off brand Claritin. Bam, that’s one item off her emergency preps.

In July she gave birth to her first child– the love of my life, Cora. After 10 minutes of digging, I learned that Sarah is scared of the fact that we are due for a major quake. So imagine my shock when I get a text from her asking me what she can do to ease her fears.

Now Miss Prissy Pants has “earthquake comfort bags” in all their family cars set up for her, Cora, and her husband that are filled with clothes, food, baby items, and a few grown up wine juice boxes that will take care of them for 10 days.

From there, I was able to get her house moving in the right direction. They now have food, formula, medicine, dog food, and a few other preps that are not unlike mine.

I even found a way to convince her to take some classes and get her CHL. I was able to accomplish this miracle by texting her every local news story about crimes happening downtown near where she lived that could have ended differently had the “damsel in distress” been a trained CHL holder. However, if you ask her if she is a prepper, you will get a goofy look from her and she will tell you, “Heck no! I am not crazy.”

Next up is my dad and step mom. We run a family business going on 80 plus years, and the guy has never even held a BB gun. So after a year of failed attempts to sell one of the old work vans, I asked him if it was okay to trade it for an AR15 that comes with 30 magazines and 2,000 rounds. He looked at me like I was insane, but after explaining I could turn around and sell the AR in 15 minutes, he reluctantly gave in.

I forgot to tell him I would not sell the gun. Six months later someone tried to break in to his house. His reaction? Call 911.

Shockingly, the police told him over the phone to fill out a report online. Needless to say, I showed up an hour later with the AR and three hours later he was learning to field strip and clean it. That AR opened the preps door a half an inch, and now he has two closets full of preps, rain barrels, two generators, and he is buying an old Ford truck that is an EMP-proof bugout beast. However, if you ask him if he is a prepper, you will get the same response as from my sister. Although I think he knows he is one, because we sure spend a lot of time hiding all of this from my step mom. Please don’t tell her!

Next were the neighbors. All it took to get their minds moving in the right direction was my crazy insane garden. Well, it’s a small version of what I have in the backyard, but it’s set up in the front yard. It was that, combined with a can or two of my stewed tomatoes, pickled beans, and raspberry jam. Then came the icing on the cake– a boil water emergency deceleration.  Within one hour, you couldn’t find a bottle of water to save your life. Before I knew it, I had my one million gallon water  filter set up in my neighbor’s front yard (someone else can pay that water bill), and people from three blocks away were lined up the day they ran out of their bottled water.

Most of them now own the same filter. While filtering their water, I took the time to talk with them about gardening, and many took me up on my offer of free raspberry, onion, and pepper starts. I have even done a few canning classes for them after they asked. It’s funny how a small garden and a few hours spent in my front yard ended up opening a door to getting to meet many awesome people, literally in my front yard. All of this from a girl, who is proud to be called Dale Gribble.

I feel I should mention a few oddities I have noticed since I set up my front yard micro garden. I am a renter who lives in a very seedy neighborhood. During my first year living there, I kept my shades closed and my head down. I figured there was no real point in getting to know my neighbors.

In that first year I had my car and home broken into and even managed to upset one person so deeply with my “I Don’t Believe The Liberal Media” bumper sticker that they decided they should spray paint the whole back end of my Honda Element. Sadly the mint green spray paint only managed to highlight it.

I soon began noticing different tags showing up on the fences around my house and decided to google them. It turns out some members or wannabes of MS13 and the 18th Street Gang were well represented. In doing some research, I feel I was pretty good at picking out who belongs to what, and in the time I spent in my garden after work I began just saying “hi” to everyone who walked past. Figuring after everything that had happened, what did I have to lose? After a few weeks, most of those who I profiled into those two groups would make it a point to stop and chat with me about the different veggies I am growing.

Then I decided to make a few calculated moves in regards to what I was growing, and during the time spent in my yard I began getting to know those who frequented my street.

It turns out the MS boss had just brought up his grandma from California and she is now living with him. He brought her by one summer evening to look at my peppers, and an hour later they left with a goody bag of spicy peppers that are almost a comfort food in their household.

Next was the 18th Street. They are mostly Pacific Islanders who are members in my neighborhood, and their leader I swear outweighs me by 200 lbs. I began to see him every once in a while walking what I had to guess was maybe a younger niece who has Down Syndrome to the park a few blocks away. When we would see each other outside he always stops to admire my beautiful hibiscus plant, which I keep in a large pot.

One day he brought her over to look at it. Noticing she had a fake flower behind her ear, I quickly cut off a bloom and handed it to her. I swear you would have thought I gave the girl a gold bar based on her reaction. Thus began our friendship.

Since then, the tagging in my neighborhood has ended completely. No one has had a break-in in 16 months, and I don’t think I have once had to wheel my trash can up the driveway. I truly understand my moves were risky, and I am a 29 year old blue-eyed blonde who lives alone. I am also pretty sure at one point in time all who stop to talk to me as I garden has discreetly seen my concealed glock 26 and know if they try to break in and come for me, they will have to go through my ruthless 100-lb German Shepard Poodle, Dagny, and my glock.

This change could also be because word spread really quickly about an encounter with the neighbor’s pit bull, who went after my Boston terrier, but ended up fighting me and Dagny. Dagny ended up with 30 stitches. I had seven, but I also removed its eyeball with my bare hands, before caving its head in with a shovel.

A few of the guys I suspect as gang members heard my screams that day, and after the dust had settled there stood a handful of each standing side by side with mouths open in shock. It turns out that both groups came running to my screams and were dumbfounded by what they saw. I guess my screams traveled all the way to the park that day.

It was pretty amazing to see both groups helping me sit down while two called 911. When the police showed up, they thought it was a gang fight, until they saw the super dead pit bull, me covered in blood still clutching the eyeball while two guys– one MS and one 18th– were holding shirts to Dagny’s neck while trying to keep my dog calm. Even the local gang task force came to get my statement. It seems they had noticed the crime drop off in my neighborhood.

The highlight came a few days later when a couple of the MS guys came by to check on me. One guy, Jose, became really quiet and then asked me why I didn’t just shoot the dog.

It took me a minute to respond, because the truth was that in the heat of the battle I honestly forgot I had it holstered inside my waist band. So after a few minutes the only lie I could come up with was that I did not want to waste the bullet.

Okay, sorry. I’m getting back on track now. For those people around you who you feel could possibly be like minded or those who you know would most likely become preppers, if they had the idea, may I recommend buying a few copies of your favorite SHTF novels and giving them as gifts or simply lending a copy to a friend while telling them how good the book was?

Finally, I now give you my solo attempt at reaching strangers. Here, in Portland, there is an odd trend of people setting up small little lending libraries in their front yards usually with a cute little note saying “take a book and leave a book”. Unlike the others I have seen, I stock mine with everything from Atlas Shrugged to One Second After, even a copy or two of Patriots.

I go into my local Goodwill weekly and always pick up a few books that I think will help foster the idea of self-reliance, faith, and a few helpful how-to books. Here’s an interesting side note; a few months after I put up my library, I saw on the side of a mini mart that someone painted in huge block letters “I AM JOHN GALT!” I will selfishly believe that came from someone reading a copy of the book from my little library. (I am not condoning destruction of other people’s property, however.)

I hope this will give you a few ideas on how to help prepare those around you. Please know that the more those around you are prepared, even just a little, the easier it will be on you. Just take a few minutes to feel out each person and attack it from an angle they understand or accept, and start laying that foundation one brick, pretty flower, spicy pepper earthquake, break-in, or water emergency at a time.

Good luck!