Emergency Part Two

One of the things I liked the most about this book was that I could totally relate. For the longest time I felt like I was the only one who didn’t know how to build a bomb out of bubble gum or repel from a 9000 story building with just a container of dental floss(I am not that far into this survival thing, so maybe none of that is possible and perhaps I exaggerate for effect, but that is how removed I felt from the ability to take care of myself), but it turns out there was at least one other person who was in need of serious awakening. Neil Strauss.

Emergency is a very easy, funny read about a guy who although very smart was completely clueless. It’s his journey from being a wimp to self sufficiency.

Page 76…”But, I’d rather live as a wimp than be a dead hero.” “How many baby steps into the abyss would it take before I finally had the courage to climb out?”

I know that it is hard for some people to believe the complete fog I used to live in. Blissfully unaware of anything around me, but I was clueless to most of what went on around me. I did the typical safety things like wear a seat belt, lock my doors, and pay attention when I walked outside, but I didn’t see a need to know anything else.

I had no idea what kind of cars my neighbors drove. I didn’t even know what kind of car I drove. I had no idea how to get from here or there without a GPS. If my GPS failed me I would call my husband and he would figure out where I was and how to get me where I need to go. I always took the same way to a place and from it. It never occurred to me that knowing an alternate way might serve me.

Page 74…”something changed in me, as it did for many people, in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. It felt like the day I beat my father at arm wrestling. In that moment I realized, that he could no longer protect me, I had to to take care of myself.”

As I have started to take more responsibility for my safety I have, of course, focused a lot on situational awareness. Not just looking to see if there is a suspicious looking person, but looking at everything that is around me.

A month or so ago, I needed to take my daughter to her friend’s house. The mother gave me verbal directions, but I didn’t have an address or a piece of paper to write the directions down. I told my husband I wasn’t sure how to get there, so as he typically did, he was going to figure it out, but I said no, I can do it. Later that night the mom had emailed me the actual address, but the next morning when I went to put into the GPS, I thought this is nuts. I have lived here 7 years and I do not know enough street names or the layout of my town well enough to get around without an electronic voice telling where to go. I tossed the paper and decided to try to get there based on just what the woman had told me.

Yes, I know this is sad and that driving from my cute little neighborhood to another cute little neighborhood is not exactly urban warfare or all that difficult, but for me it was an important thing to do because I was that far under a rock. I made it there just fine.

After that day I made it a point to drive a different way everywhere and to not use my GPS. This is not risky at all, for crying out loud if all else failed I could just drive in the direction of a freeway and hop on it, but I refused to allow myself that option. Again, this is not about wow how smart and clever I am because what I was doing was not all that smart or clever, but it was about getting out of a habit of depending on other people and things, and engaging my brain.

Page 246…”At times, it seemed there would e no end to the amount of things I needed to do to prepare. learning to survive meant learning every essential skill mankind had developed on it’s journey from Homo habilis to civilized humanity. And I wasn’t opposed to to doing that.

I am like that. What started out as simple a way to protect myself has become a passion of things I enjoy, but it doesn’t have to be.

Several of people I have spoke with have commented that it seems like a lot of work to think about situational awareness. They all have said they couldn’t do it because it would be hard for them to enjoy their lives if they were always looking for exits and counting how many people are in a room etc. We can just skip the discussion on “yeah, but not as much work as fighting off a bad guy” cuz that argument hasn’t worked with them so far.

I try to explain that at first it did take conscious effort, but now it is just what I do and it really takes not thought at all. I now notice things and remember them even if I am not aware I noticed them. It is similar to how I can focus on the road, check my mirrors, look behind me, etc without really concentrating. I aware of what I am doing, but at the same time I have been doing it so long, I am not really thinking about doing it. FYI, I have never been in a car accident or got a ticket(except one when I was 16). Knocking on wood.

Last night when I went to take my daughter to volleyball I asked her if she knew where it was and she said yes. Her dad always took her. I don’t know why, but I didn’t think to pay attention to how she was telling me to get there. I dropped her off and then went about my business else where. When it was time to get her I realized I hadn’t paid attention and wasn’t sure how to get back to her. I could get to the general area, but wasn’t sure what street to turn down. I was driving and every street looked like the one, but none felt right. Then I remembered I saw a Chic-Fil-A on the corner as I left the gym. I kept driving until I saw one, turned and it was there.

Again, this is not some monumental self defense tip and for a lot of people it will be, well duh, but I never ever would have “seen” that before. I just would have panicked and called my husband.

I saw this on The Cornered Cat FB this morning…

Safety tip: Do you know where you are, right now? (It’s amazing how many people don’t.) If you needed to call 911 and give directions to your favorite coffee shop — could you do it? Get in the habit of noticing and remembering *at least* the street name and major cross streets for the places you’re most likely to be.

I used to think I was the most clueless person that lived. I thought I was unique in that everyone else would have fought the bad guy, had extra food, water, flashlight and everyone would at least know what kind of cars their neighbors drove. Sadly, I have since discovered I am unique in no way. I am all too common. When I am outside of this gun blog world, I appear to be the most aware person out there. People have no idea at all how to get from point A to point B. The lawyer I talked about in my post about Maryland, he had to follow us everywhere because he could not remember how to get from the hotel to the range, back to the hotel, to the restaurant. He needed more ammo, but fell apart at the thought of finding Wal Mart. My husband spoke with a waitress at the restaurant we were at and gave the man the directions she had given my husband. The man was a nervous wreck. My neighbor across the street leaves his garage open all the time and when I ask him if he notices the cars driving up and down our street he says, “Uh, no”. “I never notice that.” He is a Marine. I asked a teacher at work once for directions to the copy store and he didn’t know the name of the cross street that our schools sits on. The place he goes to work every single day.

I am knocking any of these people. I was one of them. I am simply trying to show that this not an aberration. It isn’t a deviation from the norm, it is the norm.

Page 248…All my life, I’d never had to do anything practical. If something in my house or apartment didn’t work, I called a repairman or a landlord. If my car broke down, I called AAA. if I was hungry, I had food delivered. If I needed something affordable, I bought it online. If it wasn’t affordable, I used credit. My tools were the telephone and the Internet, which instantly summoned the services of other people.

But as then world of survivalism opened up, I began to realize that I’d been rendered completely helpless by convenience.

If you are serious about being more secure, even if you don’t want to carry a gun(but really you should carry a gun), there is so much you can do to increase your odds of dealing with whatever curve ball life throws at you. Maybe start to think of some of the little things you can do right now, for free to up your odds.


28 thoughts on “Emergency Part Two

  1. Hooah. Excellent post. Situational awareness is the key. Too many folks have their face buried into the phones or iPads and are totally unaware of who or what is going on around them.

  2. Great post, and buy real paper MAPS and keep them in the car/truck. Rand McNally is a good one. But you have to remember to update them every couple of years.

    • Your gona be proud of me…I have maps and a first aid kit. I have blankets, flairs and even MRE’s.

  3. Yes, exactly that! I cringe when I see people walking around with ear buds in and putzing with the smart phone texting or whatever. I look like my head is on a stick when I’m out!

  4. I can’t understand or imagine people with no knowledge of the good parts and the bad parts of a town, or even how to just get around their own town – the basic, big-picture layout.
    Since I grew-up around here I know it – and as a Cub Scout for some kind of badge we had to be able to give people directions from one place to the other – to the Post office, how many blocks and down which street… So I know the names of most streets even in the cities around us in this Suburbaplex od the BayArea.
    As far as I can tell Google Maps is a curiosity is for newbies, invalids, infants and the simple. You might end up in someone’s driveway! To me those people who are unaware after six months or a year, are irresponsible and an aberration, and dangerous to themselves – and it’s *not* normal – but that’s me, with an advantage.

    • I am very glad that you are not one to leave your life up to chance. I know you are very smart and capable when it comes to these kinds of issues. Good for you.

      • I was a jerk. I didn’t mean to sound so…omniscent – but I did and I should have held my counsel. I wanted to emphasize the delight of exploration, but came off as a tightwad. I’m sorry.

        I *do* in fact let Life and Chances have their way with me since total control is impossible and there’s a delightful matter of fleeting, random, spontaneity to be enjoyed outside that control – stopping to smell the flowers – but I also like to know where I am and what part of town I’m in and since I don’t really go anywhere it’s easy for me to be judgmental knowing my locality.
        Since Google and Tech is here, a LOT of newbies have moved in from elsewhere, and there really are a lot of them driving around clueless, dependent on the GPS and not knowing the basic layout. And I feel sorry and afraid for them.

        • Lol, you weren’t a jerk.

          When we see things like we did last week and we know the silliness people are doing to put themselves in danger, it’s hard not to get angry. The frustration of knowing how so much of this can be avoided or limited sometimes gets to be to much and a good rant is very therapeutic.

          Thank you for coming back and clarifying though.

          • But I am often a jerk (my wife assures me), so thank-you for allowing me to apologize anyhow. I’m afraid some of this is becoming generational as I watch kids who are my grown nephews’ age wander around so unprepared and oblivious.

  5. I’m going to have to read that book – thanks for the recommendation.

    You are right – you weren’t alone – you were the norm. It’s astounding how many people don’t know what’s going on around them.

    I think I’m pretty good at finding exits and getting myself around, but I could be so much better. This is not a skill that can be completely mastered, I don’t think. There’s always something to learn, more details to absorb, etc. All we can do it work on it and get better every day. Just like with shooting…always more to learn and practice 🙂

    • Yes, it is an ongoing process and it is a life long endeavor. It is become more fun now and less of an overwhelming burden though, so that’s good…lol

  6. Learned to read a map in Boy Scouts, and pioneering was always my favorite parts of any campouts or meetings. I still own a regular compass, and for years I kept the latest Yellow Pages ™ in the back seat of my car. There’s maps in the back of those things. I could find my way to oddball locations before a GPS even found a satellite. North, South, East, West….those are all directions that should be found as soon as someone gets to a new location. I’m constantly having to remind Mrs.Alien that the accident on the freeway is in the east-bound….er….on-the-way-to-Dallas side of the freeway. Basic stuff that, as you said, after a while becomes second nature and you don’t even think about it anymore. Like using your turn-signal when changing lanes. Well….I’m sure that there’s a rather small community in this nation that still does that. LOL

      • Heh. Most would argue with you on that first point. But thanks, I appreciate the vote of confidence!

        ….still wanna know how to build a bomb out of bubblegum. And you’ll need the SuperFamilyFunPack of floss (available at your local warehouse store) for those 9000 story buildings. Just watch for pigeons. Those bass-turds are vindictive!

  7. Gonna put that book on my wish list, though I do generally know how to get around and I do know the cars my neighbors drive. Still, sounds like the book is full of useful information.

    • Andy, the book does have some really good things to think about. He is on the very far side of prepping. You may or may not be aware of everything. I am not sure how long you have been in this world of preparing, but his story iss till a compiling one and a good read regardless.

  8. I have one route to get there, and one route back. We’re new in this city and my husband drives us everywhere. The problem? I don’t have to think when HE’S at the wheel and my lack of being self-sufficient is starting to piss me off.

    But I have one very large problem, geographically speaking: when someone says “Go north, then turn east on 44” I zone out.

    If they had said: “Go to Walgreens and turn right at CVS” I’d have no problem. Women use landmarks more than E.N.S.W.

    So, unless the sun is setting, or rising, how the hell can one tell directions using north, south, east and west??? It drives me crazy!

    • I will tell you the number one thing, the very most important skill to have is the ability to think. Your husband drives, so you don’t have to think…exactly. That was me, but guess what.. you have to think.

      Forcing myself to think and do for myself has been HUGE!

      It doesn’t really matter if you can pick out north from south by reading the sun or moss on a tree or whatever, if you need help from a tool use it. Get a compass or whatever, but I am telling you the more steps you take to think and practicing how to do things without relying on equipment or people, the more you mind will change the way it thinks. Eventually, you might not need that tool. Go ahead and use it, but if it fails, you will have skills to handle it…you will have the ability to think and adapt.

      • The best way to get a general idea of the lay of the land is to grab a map. One of those big fold-out maps from a gas station. Find a big landmark (ie….nearby town) that’s on the map, and think about where that is in relation to where you’re at. Then move the map to where you think it should be. You can then locate your street, or a main street nearby, and see how well you did. Or have your husband grab a compass and see if north on the compass aligns with north on the map. So pick out four towns in the area, one each north(ish), south(ish), east(ish) and west(ish). If you navigate by landmarks, this gives you a large landmark at each of the cardinal compass points. That way, if anyone says “head north”, you’ll know “oh, thats where Denton is” (or whatever your local north(ish) city is. Its a lot easier to remember that way, and eventually you will start picking out secondary directions (north-east, south-west, etc) as well. do this when going on vacation, as well, and its a lot harder to get lost…you will at least be able to get back to a major highway or interstate. After a while, this becomes habit, and you don’t even notice yourself doing it.

  9. As your situational awareness increases you will notice the beauty of the world as well as the danger in the world. Joy soon follows…

    • Excellent point. Thank you for reminding why I am doing all this trying to stay alive stuff in the first place.

  10. Amen about knowing where you are at. From an EMS standpoint it is incredible how many times people call 911 and the dispatcher asks, “What is the address of your emergency” and the caller has NO CLUE!!! It’s scary. We’ve been given wrong addresses before. People just assume that when you call 911 the dispatcher can tell exactly where you are and while on some systems that is possible, if you don’t have a phone equipped with GPS or the emergency is not where you’re standing or the call is being transferred to another service, your location may be lost in the mix. If you’re calling 911 the first thing out of your mouth should be the address or location of the emergency. … cross street, ANYTHING!!! We can’t get there if we don’t know where we are going.

    • Such a good point. I had been guilty in the past of subconsciously believing that the police would magically know where I was.

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