|Photo by dickuhne|
The big snow of January 2011 is over, but it’s still weighing on my mind.
It wasn’t a big deal here in Knoxville. Some of my neighbors own snow plows for fun! The roads were icy for one day, and then everything was back to normal.
I have lots of friends in the Atlanta area, though, and I followed their tweets and Facebook statuses as some of them were iced in for several days. Some got into sliding car wrecks. Some were literally barred from leaving their neighborhoods by cops. Most of them were off work. And I lived in Atlanta for 12 years, so I know how that city reacts when there’s bad weather.
I love the French toast joke. When there’s inclement weather, people rush to the store to buy bread, eggs, and milk. Why bread, eggs, and milk? I have no idea. Apparently, bad weather causes a severe craving for French toast! And I do understand the impulse to shop at the first sign of bad weather. I have those thoughts myself. It’s not that I’m afraid of being without something, but I do a once over of what’s in my kitchen and wonder if I should pick anything up and not have to face annoying roads later on.
However, I think that some people think of shopping at the sign of snow as preparation for what’s to come. They think they’re “stocking up”. They think they’re covering the basics. Bread. Milk. You know, the staples. But bread and milk go bad. They aren’t preparation. They are just run of the mill, everyday groceries. And buying them at the first sign of bad weather isn’t preparation. It’s just shopping. It’s just keeping at bay the desire to shop when there’s more snow on the ground tomorrow. It’s not actually getting you ready for what might come. Unless what comes is just a few days of snow and ice, in which case, sure. Buy French toast ingredients. It’ll get you through. But when I think of worse things that could happen, the fact that people panic and scramble for milk when it snows is a little scary to me.
This hit home for me when I read news reports about how shelves in some grocery stores in Atlanta ran out of bread in the space of hours. I have this image in my mind of the grocery store as a vast storage-house of food. I mean, some of these stores are HUGE. Bread takes up an entire aisle plus part of the bakery. That’s got to be A LOT of bread, right? But, it isn’t. It isn’t very much bread at all. Most grocery stores probably turn over all of their bread within a couple of days. The grocery store is NOT a store-house. It’s just a way point. If the weatherman can predict snow, and the store can run out of bread in an afternoon, the real-life truth is that there is no food at the grocery store.
Let me repeat that. There is no food at the grocery store.
|Photo by US Geological Survey|
If it’s a random Tuesday, and you want to pick up dinner, obviously there is food at the grocery store. If it’s a random winter and there’s going to be a bit of snow, there’s probably food at the grocery store, although maybe not bread. If an actual disaster hits (which the weatherman may or may not warn you of), there very well may not be any food at the grocery store, even assuming that you could get there. If you care at all about real preparation for disasters, it is completely inappropriate to think of a store as the place you will go to get what you need.
Stores can be the place you went to get what you would need long before disaster hit, of course. And that’s where the real difference lies between French toast and real preparedness. When is your preparation occurring? The night before the big snow hit, or months in advance when you had time to sit and plan?
Because you can’t really know when disaster will strike. Maybe the forecast is for a snowstorm, but the resulting storm knocks your power out for a few days. Milk and eggs are not going to take care of your lack of heat.
I thought about the news reports from Atlanta’s iced in week. And I thought about how I think about self-reliance and the preparedness advice of some of the writers I regularly read. And what a gulf lies between people who are prepared and people who are not.
Those are some posts I’ve read recently that stand in stark contrast to the French toast mindset. Check them out. Browse around. Think about what kind of person you want to be in relation to potential disasters. Tell me what you think of the whole thing in the comments.