I enjoy a end-of-the-world movie just as well as the next guy and similarly to most of the “next guys”. I have no specific skills that any survivalist would find useful, such as making a fire with sticks, creating bio-diesel for fuel, or the ability to go stalk game to put on the supper table. I can shoot a gun, skin a squirrel, and fish. That is the extent of my quantifiable skill set. However, as a non-survivalist survivalist, I feel like I have many intangibles as far as ability to learn and am on the upside. I’ve learned over the past year how to operate a tractor, how to administer medicine intravenously to livestock, and how to change a radiator out on a car. Can I do any of these things now without assistance? Yes, but not very good. If you had your own survival group, I am not a first round draft pick. I’m probably not even a second through fifth round pick. Many other people interested in being a survivalist fall into this category. Did you know that Tom Brady was drafted in the 6th round? I feel like I am, and that many others, can be the Tom Brady of after the SHTF. I feel as though many people have qualities that are not necessarily quantified to survive individually and to help larger groups of people in an impeding disaster. However, some people have the ability to learn quickly, problem solve, negotiate, and are able to “keep peace” amongst others.
These non-quantifiable skills will be invaluable if a SHTF scenario takes place. For example, who wouldn’t want to have a quick-learner at their disposal? (I fall mostly into this category.) A person with the ability to learn a variety of useful skills in a short period of time would probably earn their keep. This person may not be able to perform as well as the expert, but within a few hours or days a person with this ability will find themselves invaluable to a group. Wouldn’t it be better for a group of survivors to have a person that is a functional replacement, as far as the ability to do a task for another person, after only minimal time investment by the expert of the group? What are the consequences of a group whose only trained medic, food preparer, or hunter dies or becomes injured? With a person that can easily be trained or taught to do these things, their loss would not seem as significant or devastating to the group.
How about a problem-solver? Individuals who are able to think outside the box will be worth their weight in gold during these rough times. People who can create machines or modify equipment and who have the ability to problem solve should not be taken lightly for hard-core survivalist. I am reminded of that scene in Apollo 13 where a group of scientist have to create an oxygen scrubber with only a limited supply of materials. A group of problem-solvers created a machine with limited materials and delivered very specific directions on how to create the machine to astronauts thousands of miles away via radio transmission. Sound like a problem that may arise between coordinating survival groups without easy access to each other? Doing a lot with few supplies will be a useful skill when new materials aren’t readily available or even being produced.
Ahh, let’s talk about the ability to negotiate. I sound like Donald Trump now; however, bartering will be one of the only few ways to acquire new items “morally” (without stealing or killing other people). I am talking about someone that will not rip people off during negotiation but will take advantage of people’s needs and wants in a society where not all items are readily available. This person would have the ability to make deals that would be mutually beneficial to both sides but just a little bit more beneficial to your group or party. Having a person that is a successful negotiator would give your group confidence in dealing with other groups, and it would give you the confidence that you will always have a leg-up when bartering. Could Steve from the used car lot be an valuable person, even though he doesn’t have much survival knowledge? Yes, if he has that intangible skill of always coming out on the good end of a deal. What about Martin from the Co-op? Definitely. His knowledge of products is good, and he’s probably pretty successful in the business area.
Lastly, a person that is able to moderate arguments within a group or outside of a group with success and empathy will be priceless. People who have this skill to moderate arguments without becoming involved in them themselves are a rare breed. In dealing with disputes during a time where law and order are probably non-existent or exist on a limited basis, a person that has a calming influence on people and that can diffuse a situation almost immediately, improve a groups quality of life and even save lives during tense negotiations or meetings. What would happen if hot-tempered Joe Survival met a few guys passing through their territory that were also hot-tempered? This situation could lead to multiple deaths or a feud between two groups of survivalists whose best interest would be to work together. This interaction might be a positive one if you have the right person meeting the other group. What if you have a split in your group about duties or the division of food within the group? A person who can see both sides of the argument and is trusted by the individuals of the group to make good decisions could probably solve both of these situations with little conflict and to a satisfactory resolution.
These unquantifiable traits are typically seen in survival movies accompanied by individuals who also have skill sets that are useful in a survival situation. When given a choice between the two, who would you like on your survival squad—Shane Walsh from ”The Walking Dead or Viggo Mortensen’s character from “The Road”? Many people automatically would declare Shane. Shane had many traits that would be useful in a survival situation—able to teach gun safety, makes tough decisions, loves his “family” dearly; but, he is a sociopath, almost kills his best friend, and is an overall bad person. In the movie “The Road”, Viggo Mortensen seems to have a few skills, but mostly he has survived by scavenging materials that he has found and wills himself to live because of his son. In my opinion, Viggo is the better survival mate even with additionally taking in his young son because of his intangibles. He has somehow provided for his son in a world of nothing, and his son still has a somewhat positive outlook about the future. Could Viggo have started eating people and robbing people to provide for his son? Yes, he very easily could have. Did he? No. Did it cross his mind? As a father, it most definitely did. He displayed traits that cannot be taught or learned, because they’re unquantifiable.
Many different personalities and people with unquantified social abilities will be invaluable during times of crisis. Now don’t get me wrong; a number of these individuals (probably me included) will die within the first few months because of their lack of preparedness. However, the people who have these traits and have survived for over a year in a hostile environment probably have proven their worth more than once. Plus, after a year of surviving on their own, they probably have acquired one or two useful skills on top of their intangible traits. These are people who have learned to survive and have used their intangible skills to maintain some sort of life after the SHTF.
Many survivalists focus on measurable items. How much food do I have stocked? How many bullets do I have? How much gas do I have? The non-survivalist survivalist asks different questions. How can help the group? How can I solve the food shortage problem? How can we be more efficient? What can I learn today? They know they are not as prepared as Joe Survival down in the hollow with 10 years worth of food stored. So, they will focus on how they can make themselves useful to people they are around. Is it worth Joe Survival to take in Nick No-supplies if Nick has some of these intangible qualities? If Joe Survival has never negotiated a contract, if he has a bad temper and is not a “people person”, if he is overwhelmed with all of his responsibilities, then it might just be worth it to take in another mouth to feed. I have always heard, “Never judge a book by its cover”. When the SHTF, just because an individual may be more prepared than you or me, it doesn’t mean that they will not have a use for individuals with great social skills and leadership qualities.