Six years, 9 months and 2 days from now…
The various trains of thought from the “prepper” community regarding how “it”, the shit hitting the fan aka SHTF, or the end of the world as we know it aka TEOTWAWKI – seriously, that was a real acronym back then – was going to happen varied greatly. From theories regarding civil unrest due to a financial crisis and U.N. intervention/invasion, to EMP detonation from a terrorist or enemy state, or a one world government; the antichrist or a tyrannical regime lulling people to sleep and taking over the United States through various methods of deception and control. Pick your poison. A quick search on any web browser could keep you busy for days. Hindsight being twenty-twenty, the first of these was the greatest threat and closest to the truth. There was a common denominator between most of the SHTF theories and most of those who were choosing to prepare for something to happen. They all seemed to believe that “it” would just happen “all of a sudden”, in the twinkling of an eye. Suddenly Wall Street would take an irreparable nose dive, a world leader would proclaim on international television that he was God. It was like they were expecting signs in the sky, like the second coming of Christ, visible to all at once. Something would happen, and that something would be the signal, the balloon going up.
In reality, it was a slow fade…deceptively slow.
It was the slow fade into black that took everyone by surprise and eventually pulled the rug out from underneath us, from everyone, even many in the “prepper” community.
It seemed trivial at the time but the large warning sign, the sign that maybe something was wrong, should have been the bankrupting of many state and local governments. Cities, townships, counties, whole States all declaring bankruptcy. When cities like San Bernardino and Stockton, California and Detroit, Michigan filed bankruptcy, nobody came to the rescue and people should have paid attention.
Unlike the banking and mortgage crisis years back, there weren’t any large government rescue packages. Cities weren’t too big to fail. Cities went along playing the debt game until they could no longer play and folded their hands.
The Federal government was busy spending money none of us had on programs that none of us needed or wanted, printing money that none of us could back financially and sending our soldiers off to fight wars that nobody – globally or within the U.S. – Democratic, Republican or other political affiliation – wanted us to fight.
Cities large and small continued to file bankruptcy, one after another, like dominoes that were spaced just far enough apart to still continue the chain. Pensions and retirement plans dried up. Police and other Law Enforcement agencies shrank. Crime continued to increase, any law enforcement that was left was under-staffed and began following the trend of large cities like Detroit; warning people to “enter at their own risk” while response times averaged sixty to ninety minutes, if ever. People moved out, hoping to start anew. More “rural” states like Idaho, Oregon, Wyoming, Montana, North and South Dakota, in various degrees, suffered a large influx of people moving in, seeking a new life. Those states weren’t immune to financial issues either, they had their own problems. It was a nationwide issue and the bankruptcies continued.
Nobody came to anyone’s aide.
There would be occasional grandstanding by politicians, usually during critical junctures in their careers or when it was appropriate, say during an election year. They would vow to get the government involved, to create jobs, to make these cities and towns that were “the backbone of American society”, thrive once more. Many were skeptical, many more followed along, trusting in their leaders, electing the ones that made the most convincing argument or most entertaining show. One would think that when the great city of New York filed bankruptcy and followed the path of Detroit, that people would’ve woken up to the fact that we had been on our own for quite a while. People still held to a fool’s hope that it would get better, it was just another Great Depression and the Government would step in to help. Surely, they wouldn’t abandon us.
By the time “it” happened, we were already waist deep in the proverbial shit and were working our way through it, trying to find a way out.
Deep in a slumber brought on by a cocktail of apathy, laziness from a relative life of ease, continual dependence on The State, being raised as consumers without any thought to giving back and distracted by reality shows and voting for the next popular singer. The majority of the public was practically comatose to everything that was really going on. When things finally turned south, those of us who finally woke up realized that the SHTF while they were asleep and now they are waking up to find it all around them. Again, hindsight being 20/20, people looked back and saw how things had been unfolding right under their noses. To use another catch phrase of the time, that is when shit got real. The thought crystalized: We are on our own.
Most people woke up during or after the “Die-off”. From lack of medical supplies, to sickness brought on by hygiene issues to increased neighbor on neighbor violence. Many people died. Nobody was immune to this, but from those who had escaped, larger cities suffered the greatest losses.
Nobody came to help.
And people got angry.
Although I’ve never been, I assume that how we live now could be compared to many third-world countries.
“News” sources and rumors confirmed that our nation’s capital, D.C. itself, was supposedly cordoned-off and locked down “in the interest of National Security, in order to protect our leaders and their families as we navigate this crisis” . One year, after the spring season thaw, D.C. was overrun by an enraged mob. Rumor was that it was a lot easier than they had expected. From what we were told there were many deaths in the mob, mainly from well placed mines, booby-traps and a very small handful of security personnel. But over the course of two days, D.C. was taken. D.C. wasn’t locked down with the entire Armed Forces of the U.S. of A. like many thought. It was a ghost town. Most of the ones who the people wanted, Senators, Congressmen, politicians were in hiding, gone elsewhere. It had all been a show, an illusion. Rumor had it, but the limited news sources couldn’t confirm it, that they had planned it this way, to appear to be in D.C. all the while moving to a secure, unknown location. Like some sort of back-up government where they could plead with the U.N. for intervention.
Blind rage and unruly mobs burned D.C. to the ground. At least, that’s the rumor.
Rumor has it that by the time D.C. had been overtaken, there were too many bridges burned by our “leaders” with the U.N. or any one of our global allies that had the power to come to our aid. Regardless of the effect the United States had at one time on the world economy, the world got along just fine without us and sat back and watched Rome burn.
The United States was on its own.
We were and have been, on our own.
One would think that the prepper community would’ve been the most prepared and to a degree, would be right. Appearances have a quality all its own. Appearances, as we all know, can be deceiving. From religions who made a practice of canning, storing and preparing for emergencies to “doomsday preppers” and the like, the majority of those who prepped had good intentions in doing so. It was hard on everyone. When things started to get tight, people remembered those who had run their mouth about preparing for the SHTF scenarios and went calling on them. Long time friends turned on each other, neighbors and whole subdivisions turned on the few they knew had preparations. Anyone suspected to have preparations – the neighbor across the way who you knew was a hunter because you could see all the buck racks in his garage from seasons of successful hunts, the man next door who lived alone and had too big of a storage shed out back for a single person, the family that kept to themselves – anyone. Some had the means to defend themselves but not the skill, will, nor physical fitness to commit to do what was needed. Many of the key-board, coffee and gun-shop quarterbacks who claimed that they would “be there” or “show up” when things “went down” found the stress too much to bare and let misfortune and evil fall upon them and their loved ones. In our area, though not known in a personal way, I knew of a handful of men I’d had several interactions with – gun-shop quarterback types – who had heart-attacks and strokes – trusting too much in their hubris, guns and stored goods to make sure they were mentally and physically ready for hardship.
The ones who fared the best, if you could call it best, were the ones who had kept their preparations quiet or among one or two loyal friends or family who knew how to keep quiet. They also used their gray matter and kept their heads level as best they could; stoic to a degree when things got harder and harder. Though they weren’t Greek gods in their physique, they had taken care of themselves the best they could both mentally, nutrionally and physically and it definitely gave them a return on their investment of time and delayed gratification.
I was lucky, dumb-ass lucky.
In the relative time-line of events, I started late and suffered for it. Although we got through and are still alive, my family suffered for my lack of action. I had put things off that I knew I needed to do, that my own conscience convicted me of needing to do. I need to make a plan and find time to do this stuff. I told myself. Truth is: I didn’t prioritize it early enough. It was a hard pill to swallow, but, my family suffered because I started late. I have accepted that failure and have moved on. I’m alive, we’re alive, our little “group”. We take each day as it comes and do the best we can with what we have knowing that right now, it’s bad. We deal with it. And we have hope that one day, someday, things will get better not only for us, but for everybody.
Until then, we survive, we move on, we endure and live.
Whether he is alive or dead, I’m not sure, but my father’s words keep ringing in my ears. He was the constant, he was the voice crying in the wilderness to me to prepare and get ready. It was the last words we would have with each other before the mobile towers went out:
Son, take care of yourself and your family. You endure. You take care of my grand-babies and you stay alive. You endure. Apply the training you have, do what it takes, do what is necessary and you endure. You have what it takes to get through this. Now, you endure and you live.
So, this is what is going on.
I’ve seen both family and close friends come near death and I’ve buried neighbors. I’ve taken lives in defense of the same. I’ve starved and gone for days without sleep. I’ve suffered. I’m alive.
I’ve always been an amateur writer with the hopes of being published one day and I’m recording this in hopes that it proves cathartic to me. In the little time that I have to spare now I’ll be writing, reviewing, processing and learning from it myself, but also if someone happens to find this long after I am gone, maybe it can be used to help put a piece of the puzzle together as to how our communities and this nation suffered.
Maybe as a warning to be prepared.
“Endure” is the work and intellectual property of Tom Randall, Copyright (c) 2013, all rights reserved.