Confessions of a Newb
A NEWCOMER’S PERSPECTIVE
With respect to prepping, I admit it. I’m a newb. The term originally seems to have been coined for “gamers” who didn’t have a clue how to use a video game. It eventually came to include those attempting to use software or hardware without knowing even the basics of how to do so. Finally, it evolved to a more general term for those new to any particular activity. This article is about my experiences as a newb in this amazing and mysterious field of prepping.
I’m a businessman with a technical background, so I’ve sometimes enjoyed poking fun at technical newbs. But recently I learned that being a newb can not only be intimidating and embarrassing, but it is also downright frustrating. For someone like me who’s used to being the expert, my experience as a newb has been a great lesson in humility. This happened when I decided to look into and get serious about prepping.
WHY I DID IT
The reasons I decided to do this were varied, but the principal one is that I’ve become convinced that our country is about to have a very serious economic breakdown. Until recently, I thought there were opportunities to correct some serious flaws in our economic system. Now I believe those opportunities are behind us. And no, this is not based on a gut feel or because someone else told me to think it. While in college I took a keen interest in economics, both in undergraduate and grad school. I’ve read many books, countless articles, and followed many notable economists. It has been a hobby of mine for nearly 30 years. I do not consider myself an economist, but I do claim to know more than the average Joe about economics and economic policy. Anyhow, that is why I decided to figure out how to prepare for the unimaginable.
I knew I was unprepared. After all, I don’t have any more groceries in my cupboard than most people. It began as a simple exercise. “Why, I’ll just make a list of supplies that I need, and go out and buy them. Yeah, that ought to do the trick. I should have this thing wrapped up in a week or so.” Now, I know all you seasoned preppers out there are having a good chuckle at that. But don’t forget, I’m a newb, so go ahead and have your little laugh.
THE PLANNING BEGINS
I sat down one afternoon, thinking I’d make the list in about an hour or so and began typing in my word processor. I resisted the urge to Google it (I love using that word as a verb). Remember, I think I’m pretty smart so I didn’t really need to do any research. As I started outlining, I noticed my list was expanding and my indentations were getting deeper and deeper. Well then, now it’s time to put some of my techie skills to work, so I quickly moved from my word processor to my favorite outlining tool, Workflowy.com. By the way, it’s hands down the best outlining tool on the planet, and it’s free too. Dang, see what happens? I keep wanting to drift off into something I know about. Sorry. Sometimes I really can’t help myself.
My list started out something like this:
That should be enough, right? I need to eat. I need to drink. And I need to make sure someone doesn’t steal it from me when the SHTF. But as I gave it more thought, other things started coming to mind. Things like:
- Trade Goods and Money
Then each one of those little bullets expanded, then the sub-bullets expanded, and so on. It was looking like this might take more than an hour or so. Furthermore, I started realizing that I couldn’t just go load up on just any food. I needed something with a reasonable shelf life. So, would it be freeze dried food? Dehydrated food? Or maybe my old college staple, something like a 1,000 boxes of Ramen, each with 144 packages of delightful belly fillers (and probably zero nutrition). Geez, that stuff is dirt cheap and oh so yummy.
And what about water? Well, I have a swimming pool that has nearly 30,000 gallons in it. It’s fine for flushing toilets, but would it be safe to drink? I truly had no idea. Now I was getting this irresistible urge to start Googling (that one’s even more fun to use). It was coming on strong, and I was getting weak. As a slave to technology, I just couldn’t resist any longer. So, I fired up the old search engine and started looking around. My first query was “Can I drink my pool water?” And like most of my queries, there were about 12 million responses I could choose from. “Nope, this is definitely not going to get done in an hour.” And what made it worse, my adult ADHD was in high gear.
Before I knew it, I had 40 tabs open. I was moving from one topic to another and I couldn’t remember where I started. Every time a new topic kicked in, all I could think of was “Squirrel!!!” And I was getting dumber and dumber. Oh Lord, was I getting dumb. I felt like I did in my first calculus class in college. My professor was from Cuba and had nearly no command of English. I was in for a rough ride and was beginning to sweat. So, what did I do? Well, I did what any sane man would do. I got up to get a beer and watch TV. “Yeah, I’ll put this aside until tomorrow.” So, I fired up the old DVR and watched episodes of “The Walking Dead” and “Revolution.” That was supposed to take my mind off things. Yeah, right.
This was turning out to be a lot like my college calculus experience. I ended up taking three semesters with that Cuban professor. I eventually learned to understand him (mostly because he spoke math, not English) and I learned what I needed to learn. But this wasn’t going to be a class in basket weaving. It was going to take work; lots of homework, many tests, and more brainpower than I thought it would take.
Suffice it to say that weeks later, I had collected some interesting and useful information. But it was becoming very overwhelming and I quickly realized that not only was this going to take a long time, but it was going to be expensive. By now, I’m thinking, do I really want to do this? The answer of course was “Yes,” but at this point I was a lot more humble than when I began.
OUT OF THE CLOSET
My next step was to consult with some people to find out what others were doing. Then I thought, “Wait a minute. If I do that, everyone’s going to think I’m a tin foil hat wearing nut job.” My guess is that nearly every prepper has confronted this before. Some don’t care, but for us newbs, it is a concern. I’m a regular Facebook user and a while back I started a private group that only allows people with my political leanings. There are quite a few members in this group, so I figured this was a place to throw a trial balloon. I posted a simple question: “Am I a kook for considering becoming a prepper?”
Holy cow! Jackpot. I was overwhelmed with supportive responses and not a single negative one. Maybe I’m not just a whack-job after all. I got responses from those that were obviously seasoned preppers as well as ones from people like me that are interested, but didn’t have a clue about where to start. In some cases, I was shocked at who responded.
Then I called a friend I’ve known for nearly 15 years. I knew we both shared similar political philosophies and we’re both techie geeks, but he was also an expert in firearms, an area where I’m sorely lacking. When I told him what I was thinking, he told me he had been prepping seriously for over 4 years. He asked if he could come by my house that evening to show me some things. When he arrived, he asked if I could help him carry a few things into the house. So, he opened up the back of his Tahoe, and inside it was loaded top to bottom, end to end with prepping gear. We hauled them in the house and he began his lecture. He shared things with me for about three hours and showed off his wares. I remember thinking I would never find the time and money to get all this stuff?
Since then, I’ve “come out” to several of my family members and a few select friends. My two daughters, both in college just laughed. “Silly old Dad, there he goes again.” I hesitated to tell them too much, because I really don’t want them worrying about things like that. They have enough to worry about with college, being young, and now a tin foil hat wearing nut job of a Dad. I told them “Don’t worry about this stuff right now. That’s my job. Just know, that when the SHTF, I’m coming for you and I’ll have what you need.”
It turns out there are good reasons why you don’t want the rest of the world to know you’re a prepper. Mainly, so they don’t come hunting you down like roving zombie herds trying to steal your stuff when they start getting hungry. So, with respect to coming out to all my acquaintances, I decided to spare myself of the indignities of public humiliation and just keep it to myself.
I finally managed to put together a semblance of a checklist. It was by no means complete. In fact, I quickly came to the conclusion, that the list would never be complete. There really is no end to this stuff. It doesn’t take long before a long list of other questions start to arise:
- If I bug out, just where am I going to go?
- What if I can’t get to my stash?
- When will I know when the SHTF?
- Do I need gold or other precious metals?
- Can I put beer in something that isn’t heavy like cans or bottles?
- Will I really be able to pull the trigger when hungry people are trying to get my stuff?
- Who can I safely tell what I’m up to?
- Can I get with some other like-minded people to form a team?
- Have I completely gone bonkers?
- Should I mortgage my house so I can buy a year’s supply of freeze-dried food?
- Why is it the general population expects our military, our civil government, and nearly all other institutions to prepare for disasters, but when we do it ourselves, we’re branded as loons?
The most important thing I’ve learned during this journey is that it is not going to be easy. It takes lots of thought and lots of planning. And it won’t be cheap. The bottom line: I’m in this for the long haul. I’m not sure when I’ll get to the point that I can go to sleep at night knowing that I’m prepared for the worst.
I’d like to hear some confessions from some of our readers, so feel free to give us some feedback.