The first snow of the season fell a few weeks ago at my location. It wasn’t much, about 2 inches of heavy wet snow in the course of half a day and another inch expected to fall in the evening. Toward the end of the afternoon my sister dropped by for a visit and shortly before she arrived she noticed a couple of kids leaning on their bicycles at the side of the road. She stopped to see if everything was okay and mentioned to them they could stop by at our place it they needed help.
A little later on we saw them walking up the hill our house is located on with their bicycles in hand. About halfway up they stopped and, after some conversation, turned around and came into our drive way though not up to the house. So we went outside and offered to bring them home which was gladly accepted.
Before I relate the rest of the story, I want to stress that both kids had bright, clear eyes and their speech was polite, coherent and articulate. Therefore I have no reason to assume they are alcoholics or habitual drug users; something that could be easily inferred from what follows.
As it turned out they live in the nearest village to the south of us, which is nine miles away. Since the road was slushy, there was ample time to talk before we got there. From what I gathered they were on a sight-seeing trip and it had taken them about three hours to get to our place. I still do not know whether to marvel at their grit and determination or to label it a single-minded pursuit of the clueless. Perhaps its both.
At any rate by the time they stopped at our place, it was about 45 minutes before sunset. They had no lights on their bicycles, were lightly clothed and soaking wet right down through mittens and sneakers. They were also pretty much exhausted and had no hope of ever making it home on their own. Though I doubt that really had occurred to them at that moment.
Both kids, a boy and an girl, were fairly short (under 5 ft tall), slim built and each rode a kid’s mountain bike with only 1 out of 4 tires reasonably well inflated. All in all it was quite an achievement for them to get as far as they did. It struck me during our conversation that they seemed to be around 10 years old as far their as comprehension of the situation went. For instance it turned out they had a cell phone with them and when they tried it, it picked up a cell tower, no problem. When I asked them why they hadn’t called home, I just got some incredulous looks as if to say: a phone is for texting our buddies – not for calling home. [As an aside: When I dropped off their bicycles later on, I got the same incredulous looks when I asked them if they had learned that there are limits to what a person can do. The concept of learning from one’s experiences seemed rather alien.]
During the conversation the girl volunteered that she’d had trouble with her knee during the trip. It had ‘popped’ but that wasn’t a big deal because that happened regularly to her. It was just a bit painful at the time it happens. Then the boy showed me how he couldn’t straighten his fingers. He said it was due to osteo-arthritis which he had been diagnosed with at age 11 and the cold didn’t help things any.
At that point I just had to ask them: how old are you guys anyway? Turns out the ‘girl’ was a 17 year old high school dropout and the ‘boy’ – possibly her boyfriend – was in his early 20s.
This experience has been a bit of an eye opener to me, which is why I want to share it with you. First of all I didn’t think such people lived around here. This is a rural area where the front page news are weekly tallies of flue fires (at least in the winter). Besides we have had a real winter every year for longer than these persons have been alive: i.e. they should know better. All youngsters I personally know wouldn’t dream of engaging in such activities.
Secondly, and more importantly, this is before SHTF so getting them home was no problem. But what does one do after SHTF? If you are looking for a how to now – I don’t have one yet. I am writing this mainly to raise awareness of the problem because I haven’t seen it mentioned much on SurvivalBlog or anywhere else for that matter. Nevertheless you may want to spend some time thinking about what you are going to do when faced with this situation. Are you going to ignore them, hoping they will run into a better Samaritan than you?
We have all heard about the golden hordes, gangs and other threats to our existence. These people, however, seem to be truly clueless and only alive because their bodies run on autopilot. Chances are that (at least initially) they will be roaming around rather aimlessly – perhaps just to get away from violence elsewhere. So what’s a person to do with them? I doubt they have any skills that you could put to good use. I also doubt that they are an imminent threat to you or your family unless forced to join existing gangs. They may not want to but most people can rationalize anything to stay alive.
In this particular situation about my only option (if I didn’t want to take the risk to bring them home) would have been to give them a place to sleep and a few good meals before pumping their tires and sending them on their way home the next day. Which raises the issue: where do I put them? On an air mattress in the living room? Is the living room filled with the latest gadgets? I am sure they will remember some of the things they saw. Do you have room in the basement? A bunk house? A barn? Do you sleep or keep vigil in front of the door?
I know it is hard to prep for the unexpected and you may or may never run into any of them. However there may very well be many more clueless people around than we care to find out. The product of being put into this world and left to fend for themselves by absent parents, a school system that’s focused on providing dumb financial slaves and cannon fodder, and having equally clueless peers as reference points. Would you or I do much better under the circumstances? I would like to think so but am thankful I don’t have to prove it.
I will leave you with a text that keeps going through my head as I think about the situation: Should I not have mercy on (…) persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand? (Jonah 4:11) – D.P.