As an engineer I make my living by solving problems efficiently and with an eye toward the future. I can be stubborn in technical things, which bleeds into other parts of my life. This article is a about how that failed to serve me. Perhaps, it will ring true for you.
I remember the day I became a prepper. I was living and working in southern California. One morning in my office, after a discussion of current events a fellow engineer quietly and kindly said to me, “You know, gasoline stations only have about one day of fuel in their underground tank. Supermarkets only have three days of food on the shelves.” He didn’t then tell me what to do but left it at that. I did not. By the weekend, I had a couple of 5-gallon cans of gas put up in the gardening shed, four gallons of water, and a dozen cans of food in the hall closet. Then, I started reading.
Assembling my “get home” bag was instructive, and I learned that most of the preparedness gear in the outdoor stores are junk. I had some extra money saved up, so I partnered with my cousin to order $3,000 worth of med kits, tools, and so forth with the goal of buying vendor tables at the local gun shows. Before I placed that big order, I bought samples and took everything apart to inspect. It wasn’t SEAL grade, but it was pretty good to get people going.
After six months, we had attended three gun shows and one community fair. Our gross sales were $17. It wasn’t because we dressed shabbily, didn’t have a lot of product on our table, or ignored people who walked by. It was because most Americans simply don’t care. At the big gun show in Phoenix, I remember a fellow that turned over a $20 medical kit for a good five minutes, reading the list of contents and such. Finally I offered, “That’s a nice kit to put in your glove box.” As he set it down, he remarked, “Yeah, I really should get one of these.” Then he walked away.
It has taken me five years since that event to finally come to grips with the fact, my friends, that most of America doesn’t want to be saved. They want their comforts of life and are willing to put up with inland border checkpoints, the NSA reading their communications, et cetera, as those are minor inconveniences. The really important things are that Facebook runs quickly on their phones, Snapchat is still free, the NFL is ramping up for a new season, and of course Bud Light and Doritos will be on sale this weekend.
I’m engaging in extreme sarcasm here. Wait, am I? How many people do you know that really want their freedom, their dangerous freedom? The Israelites turned on Moses when they ran out of food in the desert, and that was quite the rescue plan he effected. To how many of your friends have you casually mentioned the surprisingly low resources of the local gas station and supermarket, and yet received a blank stare? Or how many even violated your own OPSEC for a close friend and shared a bit about your preps, only to have it ignored? Yes, me too.
If we are to lead and succeed in protecting our families, we must be wise as serpents (but harmless as doves). The first element of an OODA loop is to Observe. It took me a long time to stop chasing after people who don’t want to be helped, because I didn’t want to believe my observations. Now, I turn my energies toward myself, nurturing my family, and training with my like-minded associates.