Prepper or hoarder?

Saturday January 26, 2013

Everyone’s heard about survivalists, now being called Doomsday Preppers, right? I believe we all carry the Doomsday Prepper gene somewhere in that strand of DNA, or at least a variation of it. I don’t care what you do, there is always a little voice inside that says "Buy the jumbo size replacement doo-hickey’s," probably out of fear that you’ll be without your doo-hickey for a lack of the replacement piece. So you get em’. Your new doo-hickey gets used for about a week, then you either tire of it, put it away and forget about it, or it didn’t quite work as advertised. The extra replacement parts for the doo-hickey get stored in a pile of stuff on a shelf in your closet. Then it remains there until you either move, die, or are forced at gun point to clean it out.

"What the Hell is this bag full of?" you exhort when a bag full of some weird parts falls on your glasses, knocking them to the floor and springing the frames. It’s the extra replacement doo-hickey parts you stuffed up on that shelf twelve years ago. "Well, you never know when you might need something like this" you say as you toss the loose bag back up on to the shelf for another twelve years of trouble free storage. Its good to be prepared. While storing doo-hickey replacement parts might work out OK, there are way too many things that we keep that have a shelf life, and we’ll naturally keep them well beyond it. Once we find the item, or have a need for it, the quality, safety, effectiveness of said product is questionable. If you are like most folks you are gonna try it anyway. This is the challenge that faces all the Doomsday Preppers.

Remember the Civil Defense Bomb Shelters of the fifties and sixties? By the late sixties it had become pretty clear that a nuclear Armageddon was going to vaporize all of us anyway, so what’s the point? All those old biscuits in the metal containers had to be tossed because they were decades past their "use by" date. The same thing happens to the Preppers. Some misguided fellow with more money than brains buys thousands of dollars of military MRE’s (Meal, Ready to Eat) and then finds that they have all expired in the blink of an eye. It’s bad enough when I have to go through the kitchen cabinets to make room for more stuff that I bought, only to find cans of peaches and tomato soup well past their expiration dates. You even try to see if the whole expiration date thing is some kind of a conspiracy by the manufacturers to get you to buy more...until you open one of the cans. The smell could cause you to expire.

The common human trait of survival lives within us all, and so does the cheapskate gene. You put those two together and you have all the makings of a hoarder. Sometimes I think that the more intelligent you are, the more stuff you are going to accumulate because it makes so much sense to keep the stuff. Well, in reality it doesn’t. If I built enough outbuildings to store all the stuff accumulated over a lifetime, the taxes would be outrageous and there wouldn’t be room for anything else. Yet I still hear the echoes of the words "but I might need it some day." Of course we all know that some day never comes, unless you sell or get rid of the item. That’s when some day comes, but not before. The thing is this; we all want to be ready for the unknown. We all want to be able to survive a big life event easily and stress free because we kept a bag of replacement doo-hickey parts for twenty four years.

Animals are not really hoarders, humans seem to be the only creatures that have this annoying habit. Sure, squirrels bury nuts everywhere in preparation for winter, and they bury more than they need because they can’t possibly remember where they buried them all. That’s nature’s way of planting seeds. The process has a purpose. Nature did not devise a grand plan for bags of replacement doo-hickey parts. They don’t regenerate or grow a doo-hickey tree. They just sit there doing nothing. They add to piles and piles of junk that can make you a hoarder. We need a web site where we can barter excess replacement doo-hickey parts for left handed acorn nuts. No money exchanges hands like on eBay or Craigslist.. Junk for junk. No questions asked. Most things are small, so you can get yourself a reverse mailbox, stick it on a post outside your home, and people who contacted you online for your doo-hickeys can drop by and collect them, while leaving a similar sized bag of left handed acorn nuts. It’s OK to name it after me. Mudgettslist or Arlobay, take your pick. It’s either that or become a hoarder. You choose.

Arlo Mudgett’s Morning Almanac has been heard over multiple radio stations in Vermont for nearly 30 years, and can be tuned in at 92.7 WKVT FM Monday through Saturday mornings at 8:35 a.m.


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