Part 1 – Introduction
History will repeat itself, for history has shown, that history will repeat itself. Unfortunately my wife is not interested in history. She is, however coming around, and now I pass my knowledge on to others whose “significant others” might not see the picture. Understanding the situation is the first step to doing something about it.
As a young (25 and 22 years old) couple, attached to the US Navy, (entering my sixth year of service) my worst nightmare is a TEOTWAWKI event occurring when I am 2,000 miles away. There is little to be done about this possibility but, as my Marine Corps brethren tell me, adapt and overcome. Contingencies have been planned, but before I get there let me elaborate on how I made a breakthrough with my young, and stubborn wife.
We have been married for three years, and I was blissfully unaware of the possibilities that life as we know it might change. I was in high school when my parents prepared for Y2K, but saw decent planning and stockpiling take place. My wife’s parents planned as well, but they planned a holiday ski trip to Lake Tahoe [for December 31, 1999.]. That being said, when I joined the Navy and landed in Virginia I did not begin to take steps in preparing. That was my first mistake: I met my wife, I wasn’t preparing, and she had no indication that a couple years down the road that I would open my eyes and want to devote so much time and resources towards preparing as best I could.
I can’t pin down the exact moment when I realized that I had lost precious time and felt the urge to get ready. I think it was a steady stream of facts that I was able to put together, and the more I researched the more bleak the picture looked to me. I then began looking for a way to make my family’s situation better. The first thing I realized was that it would cost money to prepare. So, I dusted off the planned budget, took out a red pen and started making cuts and shifting priorities around. After I felt satisfied, I sat my wife down and proposed the new budget. Needless to say, my “radical” new budget was shot down.
Part 2 – The Wrong Way
I was not entirely discouraged, but a little disappointed that my wife didn’t just take my word that we needed to spend money and time on preparing. I suppose that an older (read: “wiser”) man would have known to ease his wife into a new lifestyle.
I then made my second big mistake. Feeling that I “knew better” and was doing it for “her own good” I began to run a “disinformation campaign” on my wife. (Note: I don’t endorse this method, as in my own experience it will fail in the end!) With spring starting, I began a dialogue with my wife about camping. It seemed logical to me, we devote money and time preparing for a few camping trips, I cross some of my items off the “need for preparation” list and she is none the wiser. It worked. We both had bug out bags, I mean “hiking packs”, some cooking gear, some camping knives, flashlights, a good tent, sleeping bags, first aid kits, and the like. I was even allowed to make most of the purchases for her (thus ensuring that we didn’t end up with a bright red tent, a hot pink pack and such.) We went camping, it was great, learned a few things about her ability in the wilderness (and my own) and several more things were added to my “preparation list” that I had never though of.
I felt great, stage one of my disinformation campaign was a success, and I felt ready to move on the next stage. The garden. My wife loves her flower garden. We started with a weed-infested back yard, and with a lot of hard work (on my part) and a vision (wife’s department) we ended up with a nice yard, with a lot of flowers and ornamental trees. I don’t intend on eating trees and flowers, so I just brought up the subject of a home vegetable garden. She liked the idea, but it was something that we really knew nothing about. We did some research on the internet, and she was immediately overwhelmed by the information and lost motivation. (I mean, c’mon we live within walking distance to the commissary.)
I was greatly helped by a new girlfriend she had made. Her friend opened her eyes to organic foods and sold her on the benefits of buying organic. I just had to wait for the right time, because I knew that the organic food store was much more expensive than the commissary. I would use my wife’s own argument against her, that organic foods cost too much, but I would compromise and “allow the expense” of growing our own organic garden, which would offset the cost of buying organic meats and milk. Stage two complete.
I continued with my disinformation campaign for months, and was able to cross a decent amount of things off my “preparation list”. But it was this very list that was my undoing. While cleaning she came across my list, and saw that very clearly, I had checked many things off. Then the light bulb clicked on and the gig was up. Understandably she was hurt. For months I had been less than honest about my intentions, and she viewed it as selfish and childish. Which it was. I won’t go into detail about how terrible that night was when I got home, but it’s safe to say that my plans for being ready were placed on hold.
Part 3 – The Right Way
As a uniformed service member I feel it necessary to keep my political beliefs private. Because of this, my wife became my outlet for venting frustration with policies I don’t agree with. At first my wife was uninterested in the happenings in D.C., because she felt that it would have little impact on her way of life. This was a blessing in disguise that brought my wife to a point in her life where she wanted answers.
My wife and I were invited to a friend’s house for dinner and drinks. Little to my knowledge, my friend’s wife is very passionate about politics. As drinks were made, discussion ensued, and before long politics was being discussed. My friend, a Marine, is a conservative through and through. He has no problems voicing his opinions on any number of topics and policies. His wife is as liberal a person as I have ever met. The debate was quite invigorating. My poor wife, knowing only the politics that I preach to her, decided to throw her two cents in, but could barely regurgitate the things I had said previously to her, let alone defend her “position” when pointed questions were asked.
The next day I came home to my wife watching the news, and reading headlines on her laptop. She would never get into another political debate without knowing what she was talking about. I was impressed, and engaged her in many long conversations. I showed her articles and stories, and allowed her time to come to her own conclusions, the same way I came to my conclusions. But in the end it was Glenn Beck’s show that prompted a question from her, “Is it possible that our economy could really collapse?”
Now I know, at 25 that I am in no position to give history lessons, but I did my best and pointed mostly towards the 1930s as an example. I talked at length about the increased danger we live in now, as modern day America is not what it was in 1930. The danger is not in the market, but in the fragility of our now intertwined systems. We talked for quite a while, and in the end talked how to protect ourselves. And finally talking about how to prepare for the worst, should it come.
Part 4 – The Plan
Again, we pulled out the family budget, and re-prioritized. In the end we were able to devote $200 a month for preparations. That was three months ago.
Simple. That was my number one priority, as it pertains to a plan. Mostly, because I knew that there is a decent chance that I could be across the world when/if an event happened.
My first purchases were paper, a few three-ring binders, and some shelving. I started by making lists of everything. Then I developed a set of SOPs, checklists and a commo plan. These are very much still in a beginning stage, but they get better every week. These binders serve three purposes. One, they allow me to think things though, and shoot holes in my plans. Two, give my wife an easy set of instructions to follow should I be deployed. Three, give me piece of mind when I am away.
Eventually, these binders will evolve into an all encompassing SOP. Set up similarly to a “choose your own adventure” book. Meaning that, you evaluate your current situation then flip to that section for a course of action. (For example, a Hurricane is rolling in, and it’s going to require an evacuation. Turn to page 16 for instructions. Or it is a G.O.O.D. situation and you have an hour to get loaded up and out of town, turn to page 74.) In conjunction with this, the shelving units in the garage are organized with the binder. Meaning, that for a hurricane, all items on shelves one and two have priority in the truck.
Most of the things we have done thus far are extremely cheap. Making plans for instance, are free. Aside from the cost of the 3 ring binder, paper and ink, planning for an escape was free. We live in a very densely populated area, and our tentative plan is to bug out early to a planned waypoint to reassess the situation. I do not want to risk waiting and “fighting” my way out of town, so we may have a few “unplanned camping trips” that turn out to be false alarms, but I’ll chalk it up to practice. As funds are available, I hope to store a cache of goods at this location to enable us to travel further west without needing assistance or gas stations. This first waypoint is just inside the range my truck can go on a half a tank of gas, with three routes already planned if needed.
I feel that at this stage we would be ahead of the hordes of people trying to evacuate the east coast. From this point we should be able to “camp”, assess the situation via radio, and decide on the next course of action. If it’s a false alarm, we pack our things in the morning and head home. If not we decide which preplanned route would be safest to get to our second waypoint. (note I have planned for a few waypoints for my second leg. Basically, if you drew a vertical line every 250-300 miles across the US there would be a few waypoints close to that line.) This will allow for flexibility in planning as we continue to assess the situation. If we must go north to get out west we will have a plan, if we can still use the interstate there will be a plan, of we need to go south there is a plan. All we have to do is chose at each leg. The hardest part of planning was having contingencies for natural barriers, such as the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi river.
Of course we have a destination in mind, and that is linking up with some like minded family members, who will hopefully be waiting for us when we arrive at grandpa’s house out in the middle of nowhere.
90% of our focus has been on bugging out, but we plan to start shifting some focus on maintaining the homestead. This would likely be limited to a high inflation scenario, where food storage would offset costs and impact us less, as well as securing the house for the rise in crime. However, it would be foolish in our situation to stay in our city for most foreseeable situations.
The other cheap way we have begun to prepare is mentally. This was difficult for my wife. I started by giving her my copy of “Patriots” and then a copy of “The Road“. It allowed her to see a significant contrast in what could happen, as well as the difference between preparing or not preparing.
I will end with this. We are only three months into actively preparing ourselves. And in a short essay it is impossible to discuss all the things we have tried. But there are some fundamental things that have worked for us.
– You have to be a team. I have gotten much further working as a team than trying to “sneak around” and prepare.
– You have to prepare spiritually. I am not a fan of church, as every time I go I feel like I am being sold something. My wife and I go straight to the source for our spiritual guidance. Prayer and studying the Bible works for us. But you need to find what works for you.
– You have to stay motivated. Keep yourself informed, and do something every single day that makes you a little more prepared. 365 little things to prepare will get me much further than saving up and buying a bunch of gear at the end of the year.
– You have to look for support. Too many of my peers (20-30 years old) are happy being blissfully unaware. But many are opening there eyes every day, and just need a friend to help them. This is where my plan falls flat, for now. Establishing a network of people to count on is very high on my priorities, but with the ever evolving network of friends getting rotated to new duty stations every couple of years this has been hard.
– You have to have a plan, and expect it to fail. I’ve been on many military missions, and Murphy has been there every single time. But it is easier to adjust a plan or fall back on a contingency than it is to shoot from the hip.