Let’s face it folks, this past decade has been chalk full of so many major disasters affecting the world, that it’s hard to keep up. From one day to the next, we are bombarded by stories about hurricanes, earthquakes, terrorists, radiation, shootings, market turmoil, droughts, wildfires, tornados, meteors, and you name it! Throw in government corruption and nonsensical rules encroaching on your family’s well-being and freedom, and you’ve got the recipe for a well-founded case of narcissism or worse!
Why do we worry so much about all these events that not only can we not control but don’t even directly affect us at all or just causes minor inconveniences at the most?
For many people, like myself, folks had been on the edge of their seats in anticipation of “something” that might affect their family for a long time after 9/11. Those events were just so shocking and traumatic that it really made you start thinking about personal survival here in the United States. The illusion of a safe and secure cocoon had been shattered, and we realized the government wasn’t as able to protect us as many assumed.
Years later, I would be hesitant to turn on the news, but was drawn to it like an addiction. I kept looking for little clues that I could possibly piece together to be one step ahead in my planning and preparation. Even if it amounted to mere minutes, then hopefully those would’ve been the precious few that I needed to beat traffic home before the story really broke out and I instead found myself stranded on the great highway-parking lot.
Many preppers have experienced a trigger in their lives; Hurricanes Katrina and Rita were my wake-up calls. Hurricane Katrina once again confirmed that the government was powerless, and then I found myself affected by Rita. Today, I wanted to tell you about a certain mindset that I’ve developed after recounting a personal experience.
I First Made A Mistake, And Then I Made Some More
Yes, let’s start by talking about my first mistake. This is how I learned that it is better to rely on a group than yourself, it’s better to remain in familiar surroundings until you’re forced out, and it’s better to be disciplined in your approach by following a plan than to follow a haphazard path of fear of the unknown, like I did previously.
It was Wednesday afternoon, September 7, 2005, in Houston, when I got off work. The radio announcer was talking about how Hurricane Ike was going to hit the city just as hard as Katrina hit New Orleans two weeks before. I noticed cars were lining up at the pumps at every station I passed. I thought about getting gas, but I had a little more than a half tank and just wanted to get home. There was no way I was going to sit and wait for 15-20 minutes to top off. I thought, “I’m good” and kept on driving.
That evening, I sat on my back porch in the Southwest side of Houston smoking a cigarette. A stream of ambulances and fire trucks were headed out of the city in convoy on the road behind my house, and I stopped counting when I reached 100 vehicles. Images of Katrina were flashing across the television screen on the news, and that’s when I started thinking that maybe we should evacuate. My wife agreed when I told
her about what I saw. That was my first mistake. I created tension in the house and unnecessarily added to the fear. We were not in a designated evacuation zone; we were 100’ above sea level and probably a hundred miles from the coast.
Stop, think for yourself, and do not trust your gut, because the only thing your gut knows is fight or flight, which is an animal instinct. You are not an animal. You are a logical, rational, human being capable of doing a risk assessment and weighing the big picture. For that matter, I am not saying that you should trust the government blindly either. There will always be those who stand patiently in line for their turn in the gas chamber, and that is not what I am saying you should do. People who blindly follow orders are not people; they’re sheeple headed to the slaughter!
What am I saying? I’m saying you should always think about staying put first. It’s going to be the easiest thing to do anyway. Your last choice should be to leave.
Our alarm clocks woke us up at 3 a.m. on Thursday, September 8. The truck was already packed the night before and ready to go. We turned the corner out of our neighborhood and immediately got in line on the highway, joining the entire coast of Texas trying to get out, all driven by fear.
We sat. It was pitch black, and my wife turned on some children’s songs. The kids were perfectly happy in the back singing along. It was like any other happy outing. Hours later, the sun began to rise, and we sat. We had moved a couple hundred feet, so at least we were making progress. I needed to smoke, so I got out of the truck. I finally realized that while the lane we were sitting in on the two-lane highway was full, the oncoming lane was wide-open and each side of the shoulders were open. What a waste of space, I thought!
I was also getting down to below half a tank, and I decided that I wasn’t going to wait in this line any more. I got back in, and started driving down the right-side shoulder. People were not happy, and they were throwing things out of the window at us. I saw in the rear-view mirror that other cars began to peel off out of line and follow us. Before you knew it, cars began to peel off onto the shoulder in front of us and then into the oncoming lane when they saw me approaching in their mirror and weren’t able to cut onto the right shoulder because cars behind them were already there, led by yours truly.
Watch a flock of pigeons sitting on a telephone wire sometime. For whatever reason, one pigeon will take off. It could be that he feels bad, the wind hit him a little differently on his tail feathers, he heard a different noise or just woke up from a bad cat dream, or whatever. Within seconds, the entire flock will take off, even though they were all perfectly content and had no reason to fly before they saw another pigeon freak out for some reason. I was the first pigeon to make a break, and before I knew it chaos instantly ensued all over the place.
The right side shoulder quickly became congested ahead of us. I was frustrated because the cars heading onto oncoming traffic were moving, so I tried to cut across from the right-shoulder through the right-side lane. I cut in front of the wrong guy as this big truck pushed up and trapped me. A big, bald-headed guy got out with a baseball bat. He had tattoos all over his arms, neck, and face. He was yelling and waving the bat all around when he approached my window and not in the least bit cordially asked me to get out of my vehicle. I politely asked him to quit cussing because I had kids in the back. He told me to get out and make him. Nothing good was going to come out of this situation, and I had no weapon to speak of. Luckily for me, his girlfriend got out of the truck, yelled at him, and chilled him out enough to get him back inside. I seized the opportunity to get into the oncoming, high-speed, low-drag, contra-flow lane. We almost went a whole mile.
Then, there was nowhere else to go. There were no little, side roads. There were no more shoulders and no more contra-flow. There was a deep, water-filled ditch on each side of the road and a barbed wire fence above it. As we sat on Hwy 90, the sun kept rising in the sky, and the gas tank continued to dwindle with the A/C on. I turned the engine off. All the cars on the road had their engines off. Little kids and babies were crying in the cars around us with our windows open. The temperature gauge read 116 degrees Fahrenheit as we sat on the blacktop. In between the cries, you could hear grasshoppers flying free in the fields. Women got out of the cars ahead of us and urinated in the middle of the road. Some men were taking empty water bottles to adjacent homes on the side of the road to fill them up with garden hoses. Up ahead, the heat coming off of the asphalt made everything blurry. Still, we sat, and then we sat some more.
At 3 p.m., we reached a little town called Eagle Lake. By some miracle, we had gone 38 miles in 12 hours on a half of a tank of gas. Don’t laugh! It was truly divine intervention that we made it that far and did so safely. We made it to a gas station and then spent the weekend at Marble Falls at my wife’s uncle’s house. On Sunday, we drove back. The hurricane had turned way up north towards Port Arthur at the last minute, and Houston was not affected at all. We came home to chirping birds and the lush green lawns of our subdivision, like nothing even happened. That’s because nothing did!
There are only two choices, when you are faced with a potential character-building event: fight or flight. If you allow fear to enter your body, you will make mistakes. Sometimes they will be forgiven, but most times they won’t be. In a survival situation, even the smallest mistake could become a life-threatening ordeal. So, when your adrenaline is pumping and you just want to run away is not the time to be making big mistakes. Fear and hesitation gets you killed; so, I will fight and defend what is mine. That is the decision I make today for tomorrow, and it’s not driven by adrenaline today.
I was lucky that I didn’t get my skull fractured by a baseball bat that day on the highway, but that scenario had never occurred to me when I was getting all rallied up by the evening news about the “impending doom”. So, what does it mean to choose to fight in practice? It doesn’t mean running with a bigger baseball bat than the other rats who might be running in the same direction!