I’m back from our weekend on the frozen prairie. In the end the boys lost in the championship game in an overtime shootout. Sad to see their long faces, but in the long run they’ll learn that scratching on the eight ball is much better preparation for life than running the table.
While out in corn country trying to kill time between games I spent some hours channel surfing the hotel cable TV. I am here to report that the wasteland that is American culture is still every bit as depressing as it was the last time I checked. That is not to say that it wasn’t without surprises though.
While flipping channels I stumbled across a show called Doomsday Preppers on the National Geographic Channel. Now I can remember the days when the National Geographic Society was some sort of bastion of scholarly learning, and adventure, where people wore tweed, and smoked pipes and addressed each other as “old bean”. At some point in the last few years however, they have become about as serious of a news source as the Weekly World News.
I can sum up the basic premise of Doomsday Preppers in a brief elevator speech. “Reality TV show about right wing nut jobs fetish-izing over the apocalypse.” Apparently, someone in Hollywood thought that this would make for entertaining television. Speaking as an Upstate New Yorker I can only say it reminded me of home. I had to double check to make sure that they weren’t filming this in Genesee County. (I kid! I’m a kidder!)
Like a little kid watching a freak show, I was transfixed, mouth hanging open, trying to absorb the strange colors of the bizarre world that was swirling all around me. . . I couldn’t decide which was more frightening, the prospect of a post apocalyptic world that they were preparing for, or the thought of living next door to one of these “preppers”.
When you spend any amount of time traveling the country, and talking to people from all walks of life, you start to develop a sense of radar for batshit crazy folks. In my days working field service around the country I became an expert at identifying the crazy, thousand yard stare of the mentally unbalanced. It became a sort of game for me and one of my co-worker friends. He was convinced that something in his genetic makeup acted as a homing beacon for these types of individuals. Having spent several nights hanging out with him in far flung parts of the country, I became convinced he was onto something. All Kent had to do was walk into a bar, and the nut jobs would quickly sense his presence and begin flocking to him to share their crazy stories, and wild theories about life. Kent more than anyone helped me to calibrate my sense of crazy.
So watching “Doomsday Preppers” interview seemingly ordinary folks that are obsessed about the end of the world, I wasn’t fooled. As soon as they put these people on camera, my primal instincts could feel the crazy emanating from the television screen. Listening to their 5 minute explanations of the best types of back packs for “bugging out”, and the proper caliber of handgun to carry when fending off the starving, post apocalyptic hordes did nothing to convince me otherwise.
If you haven’t had the chance to see this show yet, let me just say that it can be highly addictive. There are times when you are just mesmerized, like watching one of those old Andy Kaufman sketches, waiting for him to break character, thinking “He can’t really be serious, can he?”
Now I confess, I’ve often said that the best investment decisions that a person could make are canned goods, and ammo, but I was never serious enough to actually put it into practice. Seeing these folks showing off their arsenal, and describing their weekly training regimen to prepare for Armageddon, was creepy beyond belief. As a result I’ve decided to re-consider my position. The best investment a person can make is selling canned goods, and ammunition to folks like these.