Stocking just one week's supplies. Balderdash! A story from the perspective of experience. (Long)greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
About four years ago, long before "Y2K" entered the public consciousness, I attended an auction. It was an all day affair, going from 9:00 in the morning to well past nightfall of that summer day. The owner of the large house and farm outbuildings, a lady well into her nineties, had passed away and the heirs had arranged the auction to settle the estate. By the time darkness was falling, the original large crowd had dispersed and there were only a couple dozen diehard bidders remaining, myself included. That the auctioneer managed to keep talking for nearly 14 straight hours with only a couple of small breaks, remains a marvel of endurance to me.
During the last two hours, many boxes were brought forth from the house and it was specified by the iron-throated auctioneer that only the cardboard boxes were being sold, not their contents. The contents were gratis, since they consisted of all kinds of canned food, coffee, and other store bought goods for which a re-sale had legal considerations. As the boxes coming out were quickly examined prior to bidding, I noticed most of the contents had sale tags on them, and knowing the pattern, I would also have bet that a "senior" discount had been used whenever possible. I overheard many laughs and comments. "Do you believe this? The woman had enough toilet paper for a year!" "What did she think she was going to do with all those cans of coffee?" "She must not have had anything better to do than buy soup and canned corn and stick it on a shelf. Poor woman must have been senile." Opinions of the deceaseds sanity, or lack thereof, did not prevent very good bids being placed for the boxes which happened to contain that "free" coffee, however, and every other cardboard box was sold in quick order. To my amazement, there was no competition for a large box full of various bars of soap, still in the original packaging. I got it for a two dollar base bid. I had many private thoughts I didnt express that evening about those who continued to joke and sputter in laughter over such quips as, "For gawds sake, what was she thinking? There was going to be siege or something? Maybe wed better look around the property and see if theres a moat!"
Some of my private ruminations were that these same people did not make fun of the ladys penchant for keeping other things. Two boxes of empty coffee cans, dated from the 30s and 40s and still in excellent shape, were coveted by every antique and collectibles dealer there. Same for the jars of buttons, the toys, the Christmas ornaments, and nearly everything else including the hand made rag rugs.
The fact is, I couldnt join in the laughter because I knew the lady, named Anna, if I remember correctly, had been as sane as anybody there even though I had never met her. I also knew why she had lived the way she did. I am both blessed and cursed with an excellent memory and Im also old enough to remember growing up in the years post W.W. II. In todays parlance Im a "baby boomer", part of the first wave of that post-war rush to procreate. The street where I first learned to ride a bicycle along the cracked sidewalks had a mixture of residents of varying ages, but there were quite a few young couples whose children all became fast friends and playmates. We kids knew nearly everyone on the street, and we were completely familiar with the day to day common events and practices of the households we frequently spent time at.
I can look back in memory and clearly see the walk-in pantrys, the kitchens, the shelves and jelly cupboards in the cellars, the pickle crocks, the wine bottles, and the contents of each. If the people I knew in the fifties and sixties had read a recommendation from the government about having a weeks worth of supplies on hand, they would have scowled and said, "Only a week? What nonsense are they talking about?". Nearly everyone had a few weeks of food in their homes, or much more depending on the season of the year. In the autumn, canning jars filled with garden produce and fruit bought by the bushel overflowed the cellar shelves and were lined up on tables. Pressure-canned jars of stew meat made a dark contrast to the picalilly, corn relish and chili sauce. It wasnt only home canned goods which were stored, either. Store bought items shared space on the shelves. When canned pears or beans or flour were on sale at the grocery store, you picked up one for use, and one or two or a dozen more to "put away", according to your financial ability and the size of your family. After all, didnt everybody? Prices only go up, you save those pennies where you can! There were rules of common sense practically pounded into our youthful heads in those days, by people who had lived through a ten year depression and subsequent world war.
You absolutely "put something away for a rainy day" and if you wanted something new you saved up for it and paid cash. The only exception was maybe the item was a big ticket one like a refrigerator or a car and then you put as big a down payment on it as you could and worked to pay the loan off fast. Debt was to be avoided like the plague and if you couldnt afford something you did without it no shame in that! And heaven forbid if you didnt keep at least a little cash on hand at all times, if it was within your means to do so. A garden was standard and if you grew more than you could use then you gave some to old Mrs. Gartner down the street whose rheumatism kept her from tending to a garden that year. (Then she sent you homemade fruit-filled cookies!) Or you put the extra out on a table by the street and sold it cheap to families who couldnt garden for themselves. As for the kids, you did your chores, and got nasty looks from your elders if you were impolite or otherwise engaged in a nefarious deed. If it took as long as two days before your parents heard about the error of your ways, the grapevine was considered to have had a major lapse. The older kids sometimes tried beating the inevitable disclosure by confessing to the deed and hoping punishment would be mitigated by their honesty (and also because it was a point in a parents favor if they already knew what had happened before another adult told them).
I recently met a lady friend for lunch and she asked me if Id been to a Wegmans supermarket lately. I hadnt, and she told me she knew several people who went to that stores a la carte salad bar three or four times a week after work. They picked up what appealed to them for dinner that night and took it home. She said the profusion of food which could be bought, pre-cooked, and by individual servings (or more) was now amazing. The original salad bar had expanded to include such variety a person didnt have to keep any groceries at home at all!
Before the above paragraphs make me sound as though Ive somehow lived outside of modern society, let me hasten to assure you that Im very familiar with Sams Club as well as other national supermarket chains, and theres nothing I like better than eating out and not having to cook. Bring on the bacon cheeseburgers and french fries! And although my youngest son used to refer to my early days as "the stone age", it should be remembered that forty years is considered only one generation by genealogists, and is really a very short time frame in the scheme of history. Honest! Also, like those in any younger generation, I really didnt pay all that much attention to my elders oft spouted wisdom and consequently have experienced being in debt up to my eyeballs. Neither do I claim "the good old days" were somehow removed from all the modern problems. They werent. Greed, crime, wars and "conflicts", injustice, poverty, prejudice and ignorance were as insidious then as they have been throughout history.
However, the conversation about picking up pre-made salad bar dinners most of the week did bring together several random observations of mine and I realized it is not only American manufacturing which now operates on the "Just In Time" principle. American society as a whole is now a J.I.T. society; meal to meal, day to day, paycheck to paycheck. There is no underlying girder of stored supplies to cushion an unexpected downturn in fortunes and whether this opinion now qualifies me as an "old fogy" or not, neither is there as much of an underlying base of thrift, courtesy, faith or honor.
If Anna, whose property was auctioned that day, was still alive, and I had the opportunity to tell her about the potential computer system problems the Year 2000 might bring, I know in my heart she would most likely say, "Well, I got through ten years of depression and then W.W.II., you just do the best you can. So what did you say the government is recommending in the way of supplies? Three days to a week? Humph. [a sound always accompanied by a sniff or snort from the nose] If I ever had just one weeks worth of supplies I would have considered myself to be an idiot, even in good times. The govmint dont remember too well, do they now?"
"No, they dont," Id reply. Read one of the free government brochures or talk to any financial planner and you will invariably come across a recommendation that a family should have enough money saved up to cover three months worth of expenses in case of an emergency such as a hospitalization, layoff, or job loss. Ive also read that same advice in various magazines articles and newspapers for the last 30 years. Three months, on average, is the standard "cushion" recommended to get you through the emergencies life may throw your way. Hardly anyone puts that advice into practice nowadays, but its still considered a practical precaution. Until now that is. Now the government is talking about three days or a weeks supply for an event the severity of which even they admit cannot be definitively determined in advance. Yes, one is food in the house and the other is money in the bank, but what difference does it really make?
Anna would "humph" and do that little side-to-side shake of the head, which is the old-time polite way of saying "Some peoples just fools, aint they?" Id give a younger, less practiced "hum" and listen as she related all the hard times shed been through and what shed learned from them. Id add some of my own experiences. I know what its like to cook everything from scratch and make every penny count. What its like to have one trip a month to McDonalds be a big family treat. (Was I glad I knew you could cook everything yourself and save money.) There was a time my husband and I were in a car accident which put us both in the hospital. (Thank heavens there was plenty of food in the house for the kids, because Id learned from those earlier days of lean times how important that was. The medical expenses not covered by insurance threw us for a loop that time, though.) Years later, I discovered what its like when your husband has a heart attack and is out of work for three months. (Thank God we had that recommended savings "cushion", a lesson learned after the car accident.) The disability payments didnt come through until after he was back at work - forms returned three times for various "verifications", you know. The Human Resources people for my husbands employer reassured us this was fairly "standard" procedure.
Then there was the time when my husbands records were deleted from a military payroll database, along with all the other soldiers whose last names began with A through C, followed by another glitch a few months later which caused us to be paid a different amount than what was due, and then to have a deduction made from our account which was more than the initial payment error. We learned to never assume a direct deposit will always arrive at your bank when its supposed to, or that the amount will always be accurate. These were only a few of many personal lessons which also taught us never to fully trust in computer system accuracy or to believe that computing errors would be remedied in short order. (It took almost two weeks to discover why those A to C deposits had never been made and another month before the situation was remedied; longer to correct the later glitches.) I wont even detail a three year controversy with the I.R.S. over a $300.00 payment which we made but which they claimed we did not make. I still have the two cancelled checks - one for the original payment and one for the payment we finally made to get them off our backs since a cancelled check didnt seem to be enough proof for them that theyd gotten their money the first time around.
So many other rough times, with the learning piling up higher with each one and the joy of life growing brighter, too. If wed paid closer attention to all the bits of wisdom put forth by experienced elders in our youth, we wouldnt have had to learn the lessons bit by bit, one increment after another, the hard way. Can you see Anna nodding her head while I related my stories? Can you hear her saying, "Thats the way of the world, child. The young always thinkin its going to be different for them, and the old tryin their best to save them some grief even when theyre mostly ignored."
So vivid are some of those earlier memories that it often seems strange to me that I am now a grandmother myself. Strange that I am in the position of recalling past lessons and experiences in the hopes of benefiting my children and grandchildren. Strange that now I have reached the stage of life where I recognize first-hand the hard won wisdom of my own parents, grandparents, and other elders who have graced my life. I am confronted by the same desire to teach those of shorter memories that being prepared for lifes disasters, big or small, is a GOOD thing. And I am old enough to know that most will not listen, and cantankerously aged enough to keep trying anyway.
I recently watched an episode of "The Century - Americas Time" on the History Channel. The episode covered the Great Depression of the thirties. One particularly striking quote from a man who had lived through that era was, "Everybody was baffled. Theyd never experienced this before." Yet the depression of the 1930s was far from the first serious economic downturn in America or the world. It doesnt take long to forget, does it? Many in our society now seem to be of the opinion that somehow, for the first time in history, America has some solution which will prevent a stock market crash, rising unemployment, nasty explosions of wars, or what have you, and continued prosperity is guaranteed; not to worry. So there will be a global computer problem weve never experienced before? Not to worry, its under control. So the nation is still in debt up to its ears? We just had one year where we didnt add anything to that debt, didnt we? Ok, so we didnt decrease the national debt, we just didnt make it any bigger. Still not to worry.
The old matrons and gentlemen I grew up knowing had likely never heard of Santayanas quote about being condemned to repeat history if we dont learn from it, but they surely knew from experience the essence of his cautioning statement. One gent would have expressed it on a more personal level, but the meaning is much the same. "Soons you think life is going along great, watch out for the curve ball. And then be glad it was just a curve and you didnt get hit in the head by a wild pitch." Another elderly lady would have said, "Theres talk about seeing a glass either half full or half empty. Posh, that glass is different levels at different times, aint never going to stay full, aint never going to stay empty, and sure as shootin aint goin to stay in the middle long neither. You got to expect ups and downs and be as ready as you can for the bad times. Then the good times is even better."
Most of the experienced elders I grew up knowing are gone now, but a few weeks ago I was delighted to discover the old wisdom is still alive and well. I was at WalMart, next to a display of oil lamps, and encountered a little lady who appeared to be somewhere in her seventies and spoke with a European accent. She was having a bit of trouble figuring out the difference between regular lamp oil and the ultra-pure. I was able to answer a couple of questions for her and she related that it had been a long time since shed used an oil lamp. She asked me if I had any myself, and I told her I did. She looked up at me and said, "Y2K?" That was the start of a chat between us which must have gone on for half an hour. She related that she already had had a wood stove and lots of food supplies when she first heard about a possible computer problem, but that she was expanding her normal preparedness. After telling me this, she gave that little disdainful frown Ive seen on many wrinkled faces of days past and said that her oldest son kept telling her there wasnt going to be any problems with the computers come 2000. Then a confident light lit up her eyes and she raised her hand, index finger extended, as though she was showing me how she had replied to him. Shaking that finger at the invisible son, she said, "I told him, who knows? So maybe nozing happens, maybe it does. Always better to be prepared. Zis I KNOW!" When this feisty little lady said, "Zis I know," the depth of her conviction resonated in her voice.
Y2K or no Y2K, it is not "fear mongering" to warn that good times and prosperity do not go on forever. It is not advocating "hoarding" to advise having more than one weeks supplies on hand, it is not foolhardy to recommend reducing or eliminating debt, it is not "scare tactics" to point out that modern economies are not depression-proof, it is not blasphemous to acknowledge the stock market is still as susceptible to a downward plunge as it has always been, and it is neither silly nor crazy to take seriously any global problem which has the potential to cause harm for a great many. If the government, the media, businessmen, your boss or your neighbor tell you otherwise, they are the ones with the short memories, and they are the ones who are wrong.
Anna would know that. Mabel, Maisie, Gert, Vera, Friendly, Reta, and all the other wise old ladies of the past, whose wisdom, common sense, and good advice I have learned to trust, would know it, too. Depending on individual personalities, their accompanying comments to accusations of "hoarding" or "fear mongering" would have been variously, "Balderdash", "Humbug", "Fiddlesticks", or "Damn nonsense." Dear ladies, my "Humph" sound is only at the amateur stage now and although its not as good as those I remember you all using whenever an apparent idiocy was encountered, Im working on making it better. You taught me well. Thank you. One weeks supplies? Bosh and poppycock.
-- Bonnie Camp (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 23, 1999
Thanks. You just said it all. One of the best posts I have ever read here.
-- (DivinMercy@aol.com), April 23, 1999.
It's a keeper.
-- FM (email@example.com), April 23, 1999.
Thanks for real American history Bonnie. Too bad the elites today look on that period of time as "unrealistic, opressive and backwards."
My, how far we've fallen in 40 years.
God help us all.
-- INVAR (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 23, 1999.
Although it looks seamless and effortless, I know you must have spent a lot of time on your essay, Bonnie. It's full of wisdom and I do so appreciate your taking the time to write it. My best friend is The Hungarian, who left Hungary in the mid-60s. She Got It immediately because of her experiences in a communist-run country, and she knows NOZZING about computers! Big Dog and Puddintame will be meeting hre on Tuesday and I can assure them it'll be an experience neither will forget!
Thanks again for letting us into your memories and thoughts.
-- Old Git (email@example.com), April 23, 1999.
As always, a pleasure to read your commentary.
-- Steve King (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 23, 1999.
Truly outstanding! What a great illustration of how times have changed (very much for the better) and how we've adapted to those changes (living from meal to meal). Today's lifestyles reflect to a significant degree what our computerization has accomplished, and yesterday's lifestyles reflect mindsets tempered by harder times.
The older necessary virtues of save it, fix it, use it up, do without have become unnecessary over the last half century, and we haven't learned to do what we've had no reason or opportunity to learn to do. Especially noteworthy is that lessons learned from 1930-1950 were learned the hard way -- people were caught unprepared and suffered. Had this not been so, much of the lesson would have been lost.
I believe the morality of those pre-1950 days was a function of immobility and lack of anonymity. A much more rural population, much less access to vehicles, everyone knew everyone, mistakes were much harder to run away from. Endless studies have shown that the best deterrence to crime is certainty of retribution, rather than severity of punishment. And this applies as well to personal daily behavior. People won't do what they can't get away with.
I note with interest that Anna's lifestyle was as anachronistic as ours is likely to become. She had a great deal she didn't need, because she'd lived through a time when she needed a great deal she didn't have. Those times are returning, one way or another. Y2K may hasten them, but they're coming. Almost all of us live by betting more than we can afford to lose, and those bets will be called soon.
-- Flint (email@example.com), April 23, 1999.
Bonnie, many thanks for this excellent post. I also appreciated all of the research you have done for the EUy2k forum.
-- Ray (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 23, 1999.
Thank you so much for your post, both for its wisdon and the memories it invoked.
I too was born right after the war and I remember going to Great Grandma's house where all of us - Gr. Gram and Gram and my Mom and my aunts would all can for 2 or 3 days a couple times a year. Fruit and veggies from the garden and making jam (I can smell it now!!) Every one would take home a share of the finished product to eat during the winter. I have always canned but not nearly to that extent but it surely does give one a good feeling to have "put up" for the winter.
Several ladies in my neighborhood know that I can and have asked if we can all take the trip east of the mountains in August for fruit and veggies - if I will hold the canning seminar and show them what to do. I am actually rather excited as I think it will give us a special tie that come Y2K we will be more prepared than most, and we did it for ourselves and we will be more likely to look out for each other because we will be more like family because we shared.
And I can hear Grandpa Andy telling your Anna that "t'aint up to nobody else to look after you and yours but you and that includes Uncle Sam". Remember him saying that the CCC shoulda ended long ago (think he thought welfare was the CCC). Probably rolling in his grave by now... and I am wise enough to know that I probably still couldn't beat him at checkers or dominos but Lordy I sure wish I had the chance to try again.
-- Valkyrie (Anon@please.net), April 23, 1999.
What an enjoyable piece of writing, suitable for publish, IMHO. Thank you for taking the time to share the blessings of your memories, experience and wisdom. Your piece is a powerfully wonderful gift, one I really needed after the evening news of Kosovo and teenage paniced refugees.
-- Leslie (***@***.net), April 23, 1999.
Bonnie - Thanks a million - it IS a keeper and to be shared with those we love!
-- jeanne (email@example.com), April 23, 1999.
Congratulations on a well-written post.
-- Mr. Decker (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 23, 1999.
Koskinen should read this and hang his head in shame. Surely he can recognize unadulterated common sense (and how distinctly it differs from the folderol which he would have masquerade as advice).
Shouldn't people who think like this be running things at FEMA? What purpose is FEMA actually serving? It seems that FEMA has experienced some dilution of its mission because y2k preparedness is lack of confidence in the system. In other words, it's good to be massively prepared for the wrath of nature, but it's bad to be slightly prepared for human error.
Hats off to you, Bonnie Camp. I might send copies of your letter to some politicians, or maybe better, pass copies around the neighborhood.
-- Puddintame (email@example.com), April 23, 1999.
Very, very well written. Thank you.
-- A. Hambley (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 23, 1999.
"There is an evil I have seen under the sun,
As an error proceeding from the ruler:
FOLLY IS SET IN GREAT DIGNITY,
While the rich sit in a lowly place.
I have seen servants sitting on horses,
While princes walk on the ground like servants."
-- BigDog (BigDog@duffer.com), April 23, 1999.
That is wonderful, Bonnie. Sometimes the best way to put Y2K in perspective is to take the focus off Y2K and put it on life in general. You did it with aplomb. I plan to spread it around.
-- Bill Byars (email@example.com), April 23, 1999.
Beautiful essay, Bonnie! You just made my day! :.) Maybe, if anything good comes out of Y2K, we will relearn some of those lessons. Your deceased friend must have been a real gem.
-- luann (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 23, 1999.
Bonnie,I have been lurking here a long time and have learned a great deal. But in reading your post , I have not only learned much more, but I have enjoyed it tremendously. Thank you!!
-- Peggy Murphy (Rosja@webtv.net), April 23, 1999.
I'm SOOO glad you are back!!! Yes!
-- LindaO (email@example.com), April 23, 1999.
Makes one think......Thanks
-- Moore Dinty moore (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 23, 1999.
Wow. One of the best posts I've ever read, thanks so much.
-- Uncle Deedah (email@example.com), April 23, 1999.
I enjoyed that very much! *Sigh*, I was born too late...
-- madeline (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 23, 1999.
Thanks. Just when i think I'm wrapped back up, something comes along and unwraps me. My gram (Matie) would have fit right in. (even in teh same neck o' th' woods, as in Newark, next to Phelps).
-- chuck, a Night Driver (email@example.com), April 23, 1999.
Bonnie, Excellent no more needs to be said.
-- duffyo (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 23, 1999.
THIS is why I monitor this forum. THIS is why we all put up with the flaming idiots, the extremists, the pollys. Just so we can be here when a post like this comes along.
Bonnie, my deepest and most humble thanks.
-- Lobo (email@example.com), April 24, 1999.
i'm going to post this on our website sunday night/monday morning. it is a reminder of a world that does not now exist, but which should not be forgotten- because it can always return, for *whatever* reason.
-- drew parkhill/cbn news (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 24, 1999.
Color me skeptical, but I'm skeptical.
I also had a grandmother. She was born in the last century; lived on a farm all her life. Didn't have running water or electricity until the 50's. She passed away a while back.
I knew her well enough to know that if she were confronted by the Doomer mentality, or by the ostentious sentimentality presented in this post, her immediate response would have been to hand me a shovel and order me to go scoop up that stuff. She wasn't one to put up with bogus anything; be it bogus science, bogus stories, or bogus sentimentality. The latter of which is what's present here.
Bonnie, you might have some talent as a short story writer. But I fear you've wasted a bit of that talent (and a good bit of your marketability) by posting such sentimental nonsense here.
-- Chicken Little (email@example.com), April 24, 1999.
I have had severaly "Annas" in my life. I grew up in the same era as you and totally understand your memories.
As a matter of fact, I STILL live in a part of the world where the "Annas" can be found and even have a few in my family.
You post is one of the best I've seen on this board. You make excellent points - hopefully some can learn from you. You will therefore have done a great service to you fellow man. Little more can be asked of a civilized human.
-- Got memories?
-- Greybear (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 24, 1999.
Chicken Little, since preparation is for the birds and chickens are birds, does that mean you're preparing ;-)
Bonnie, I think your post put in words why I GI so fast. Prep is just common sense. It also elucidates why so many on this forum plan to keep their preparations in the unexpected event that Y2K is just a blip. Thanks for the reminder!
-- Tricia the Canuck (email@example.com), April 24, 1999.
I've been an "lurker" at this forum for a long time, and this is by far the best post I've seen. I hear in you my own grandmother (truly my rock of stability through my teen years) describing those difficult Depression times, when she considered herself lucky to have a bit of bread and gravy for her only meal of the day. Thank you for the kick in the pants. It's happened before; we're complacent idiots if we neglect our loved ones by thinking it can't happen again. Anyone who thinks a (very) well stocked pantry is a crime against humanity and a threat to modern civilization should read your post very carefully. On the flip side, sudden panic (e.g., Dec 1999) will be a recipe for heartache for many. Recommendations for only stocking up as if for a winter storm is, in my opinion, beyond irresponsibility, no matter what the threat.
As my Grandma would say, 'pay them no nevermind!"
-- spindoctor (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 24, 1999.
My mom ALWAYS had canned enough for more that a single year at a time. A true sign of wisdom is to anticipate the future. Beautiful post. What is wrong with common sense and if there is no common sense then what does that say about society? It seems to me that many on this forum are only trying to put their common sense on the forum about times as they used to be. Is that really so hard to except? I remember a post awhile back about a lady that was a member of a church and was conserned that preparing was a lack of faith in gods ability to provide. It is not the lack of faith in God to provide just the ability of society to provide. God provides life, society puts the barriers around life. Thanks
-- Brian (email@example.com), April 24, 1999.
For every opinion there is an equal and opposite criticism. In your case, just one.
31 responses and only one of them negative.
Says a lot.
-- FM (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 24, 1999.
CL, I fear you've discarded the contents and choked on the packaging. There are useful observations wrapped in these I-remeber-mama sentiments, worth thinking about.
-- Flint (email@example.com), April 24, 1999.
Thanks Bonnie. This was wonderful.
-- J (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 24, 1999.
Thanks, Bonnie ... for the memories.
One of this years helpful daughter projects is helping my depression era, WWII pack-rat mother, sort through every nook and cranny (need more prep room). Awesome job. That generation certainly knew how to save stuffy-whats-its.
Im quite sure, buried, well locate those old canning jars. The cast-iron wheat grinder is an old-time treasure too.
-- Diane J. Squire (email@example.com), April 24, 1999.
Many thanks Bonnie!
I just got off the phone with a close friend who considers himself a GI and who plans to prepare for one week!
I'm going to forward this to him.
-- GA Russell (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 24, 1999.
--most excellent and elegant, and in a quiet measured way it screams TAKE NAMES AND KIK BUTT on polly's and the corporate and governmental apologists. DGI Tech heads with pointy little minds need this the most- their sharpened egos and narrow focus are never matched by the bluntness of reality. Well done. Don't run FROM y2k, run TOWARDS a better life!
-- zog (email@example.com), April 25, 1999.
Bonnie, I received your essay from Joseph Almond in Muskegon, Michigan. I just now read it and then forwarded it to my y2k news group. Most of the world's history has been handed down orally in story form.
Hopefully, our children will be able to talk about their wise parents who ignored the spin (witch?) doctors and gathered in supplies, or gave up some luxuries to secure sources of light, heat and food for dark times. I am trading a beautiful, handmade guitar for a woodstove.
Check out y2knewswire.com for the Y2K SCARCITY LIST and the essay section for the Y2K IS DEADLY speech. AWARE, (Americans Warning Americans Relatively Early) nominates you as an honorary member. You have the status of REP (Responsible Emergency Preparer). God be with you. firstname.lastname@example.org
-- D. W. Crosby (email@example.com), April 25, 1999.
Am going to read this - with voice accents and all - to our womens class at church. I copied it and saved it to what else??? "HMMMPH.wps"
-- Laurane (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 26, 1999.
I would like to address a portion of this response to Chicken Little.
Any human being who claims to not have sentimental feelings for times gone past, whether good or bad, is either "bogus" or just plain heartless.
Remembering the past and learning from it is something that should be commended, not criticized. Would you tell a child in school not to let the history lessons influence their life? Would you call recollections of the holocaust and the lessons learned from it "bogus sentimentality"?
I happen to know Bonnie very well (she's my mother, and mentor), and I can assure you that every word of her essay was heartfelt and honest.
I, like everyone else on this forum, have just read it for the first time. All I can say is WELL DONE! Friendly and Great-Grandma would be proud!
-- Melanie Brace (email@example.com), April 26, 1999.
Dear Bonnie: Thank you for your heartfelt essay. My very minor opinion is that the most neglected area of concern of Y2K is how it affects each of us personally and that includes how we feel about our relationship to the world in which we live. Those that claim it has no relevance in their lives confirm to me that my world and the people in it are of my own choosing.
Here's something I wrote about the relevance of Y2K in my life.
"Many years ago I discovered that my life was better if I didn't lie, cheat or steal. Most of the time now I'm proud of my own behavior. I also discovered that I'm not a hero, prefer not to be a leader and that I will not be instrumental in changing the world. I'm just a fairly private man. I'm even uncomfortable writing this essay about myself. Another thing I found was that if I was able to reduce the size of my world to just those people that I could touch personally, that I could make a small but positive difference in some peoples' lives. So sometimes I make some small changes in my own small world. That raises a question, "What can I do about Y2K?"
I've been reading about Y2K for a year now, almost everything I could find and certainly everything I had time for. I've come to choose my Y2K reading as I do most of my other reading, by the writer. Most who read a steady diet of this stuff know who they are: Gary North, Ed Yourdon, Ed Yardeni, Larry Sanger, Rick Cowles, Roleigh Martin, Cory Hamasaki. There are more, Drew Parkhill, Michael Hyatt, Douglas Carmichael... the list goes on. Often I don't care for the message, even if I agree, but I almost always enjoy the writing.
The result of my reading has been that I've felt compelled to try to do something, anything that will allow me to express my fear for the future in a constructive way. I know about it, so I have to do something! I've spoken to friends and family, business associates and others. Their reactions shouldn't have been a surprise. People scoffed, told me everything will be fixed and fine. A woman friend of my wife actually patted me on the hand and told me "Don't worry, everything will be ok." Like some of you, perhaps, I gave up for awhile.
My wife and I have prepared as best we can, knowing that if the problems are serious and widespread, anything we've done will not be enough. We've decided that friends and family will be welcome in our home if it's necessary, even those who laughed. But that still doesn't relieve the feeling that persists, there must be something useful I can do. "Ah ha! I know what I'll do," I thought, "I'll write my politicians, local utilities, local and national media and the major Canadian banks. I'll be logical and convincing. I'll pester them. They'll listen!" I won't trouble you with the details of their responses.
But what of work, earning a living, real life? Y2K interferes in those things too. I sell residential real estate. I help motivate buyers to plunk down most or all of their life savings to buy a homea home that may have little value next year if our economies take the hit that's expected by many. Not my problem? What if there's only a 5% chance of a depression? No big deal? Well, what if every time I drove my car there was one chance in twenty that I'd have a very serious accident? Each time I left my family there would be a one-in-twenty chance that I wouldn't return home. How often would you use your car? I might give up driving, I'm not sure. So, is it my fault that people could lose their jobs next year? No, of course not. Is it my responsibility if they make a choice to put their life savings into a home that they may not be able to pay for because they may lose their jobs due to a Y2K induced depression? No, of course not. They can always sell if it becomes necessary, can't they? But if we do have a depression there will be many, many homes for sale by people who can no longer afford them, people desperate to sell at almost any price just to get any part of their equity out of it. Prices will plummet and some people will lose everything. It's the free market at it's best. Lots of supply, little demand, low, low prices. That's how it works. Their savings will be gone. Not my problem?
I sell about 25 to 30 homes a year. I'm not a big shooter but, if I do it right, I earn the respect and often the friendship of my clients and a decent living besides. These people depend on me to help them through what is probably the single largest financial transaction in their lives. They depend on me.
I haven't sold any homes this year. So far this year I am not making a living. The real estate market is slow but I'm even slower. Working for people selling their homes would be ok with me. Any family selling their home now may improve their chances of dealing with Y2K successfully. But I'm finding it tough to even think about working with buyers. I've suggested to my own son that he wait until next year to buy a home. "Wait and see how Y2K shakes out," I suggested. What about people who want to buy homes in the city in particular? Are people entitled to make their own decisions? Absolutely, I have no business trying to make their decisions for them. Where does that leave me? Not my problem?
Besides not lying, cheating and stealing, I have other principals that I try to live by. I'm not religious but I do try to live by standards that I consider moral. If those standards don't apply to all aspects of my life, personal and business, I'm a hypocrite. There has to be a bottom line. "Butt out, it's none of my business" doesn't make it. What would you do? Not your problem?
There are choices each one of us has to make. My wife works in the travel industry. Yesterday one of her clients, a travel agency owner, boasted that he's booked a group of people to travel to Bali for the January 1, 2000 rollover. Will they be safe? When and how will they get back? Will the airlines be flying home from Bali? Not his problem?
I may have an answer but it's better as a question. I don't know if it's the right question but it is the best I've been able to come up with so far and I'm trying to make sense of this for myself. Am I my brothers' keeper? I think so. Would I grab a guy about to step in front of a bus regardless of whether or not I thought he knew it was coming? You bet, I did it once. Would it be enough to yell, "Watch out for the bus!" Not for me it wouldn't. He might not hear me or he might not think of the consequences in time. For now that's my answer, I am my brothers' keeper. What about you?
-- Bob Greenhalgh (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 26, 1999.
Extremely great essay, it reminds you of the revolving cycle on this earth. Empires are built, prosperity comes, depression comes, then empires fall followed by another. Y2K is going to be an event that will be in the history books most likely recorded as the 2nd GREAT DEPRESSION. The question is are we going to (1)destroy ourselves with our gasonline engines putting polluntion in the air or (2)are we going to harness the power of the SUN and survive or (3)will time go backward 500 years back to the DARK AGES. These Questions will be answered in the next 50 years. Lets hope we chose the 2nd option. I hope Y2K will lead us to harness the power of the SUN.
-- Michael Enright (Menright13@yahoo.com), April 26, 1999.
Chicken Little - What exactly are you skeptical about? The sincerity of Bonnie's essay or the appropriateness of her message to be prepared? In reference to the former, I can assure you her sentiments are certainly not "bogus" or "ostentatious", as you so ineptly stated. Call them wishy-washy or overdone, if you must, but her experiences and feelings are certainly very genuine and came straight from her heart. I am Bonnie's eldest daughter (and extremely proud of it) and having lived through those times with her and, fortunately, having learned good lessons from them, I can vouch for her truthfulness. As for her ostentatiousness, her intention is not to bring attention upon herself but to bring attention to the elders of this world who, to a large extent, are ignored in today's society but who's wisdom we can all benefit greatly from. If that is ostentatious, then I need a new dictionary.
The fact that you are basically accusing her of being false and showing off (bogus and ostentatious) only prove that you didn't think before you wrote. Instead of contemplating the essay and responding with a logical and well-thought-out argument, you simply reacted to an idea you don't particularly like, for whatever reason. Choose your words more carefully next time and perhaps people will take you seriously.
As for her message of being prepared, since when does "Be prepared" qualify as "Doomer mentality"? With that implication you belittled every Boy Scout who ever lived! Which message do you honestly think your grandmother would have found bogus - "Be prepared for life's ups and downs" or "Life is grand and always will be"?
If Bonnie can make more people aware of the need to be prepared for whatever circumstances may arise by imparting some of her own hard-won wisdom and the hard-won wisdom of her elders, then I believe this to be a good thing - no matter how "sugar-coated" you believe it to be. As Mary Poppins would say - "A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down."
-- Laura V. Tittle (email@example.com), April 28, 1999.
Welcome. Thanks to both you and Bonnie for excellent posts.
-- regular (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 28, 1999.
I graduated from collage two years ago.In my senior class we were told that we should expect to update or change skill sets every 18 months. I thought to myself that getting a new skill every year wouldn't be a bad thing in any case. All the reports about a tight engineering market seemed to be true. Things where looking good.
Then I graduated.
Since that time I have had to expand my skill sets every 4 months, on average. In my latest job I have changed skill sets every 2 months, all vastly different from each other. Rocket science to automotive engineering, toys to submarines, and I feel like I haven't even started my career.
Another thing I have read between the lines about is that the "engineering shortage" that is carped on doesn't seem to exist, at least it took me several months between jobs to get a new one.
My wife and I have realized there aren't post degree to retirement jobs anymore. So we have to be ready to be unemployed every year for several months, and the older I get the longer it will be.
We are working our way out of student loan debt thankfully not a lot, but we need to balance that with getting the things we believe we need for the lean times. For now times are good but they have been lean before and they will be again.
Y2K will be no worse for me then yet another pink slip, because I am ready to lose my job. I would just have to change skill sets again, and make use of the things we have stored for such eventualities.
My parents grow up in Germany during WWII "Live Prudently" is the motto that marks their lives, and mine too.
I am not worried too much about a panic buying spree before or even on Dec 31. Only if the lights go out will it occur, because people seem to need to see it coming and this won't have much of a sneak peak, and those that have come seem to have lulled the masses. Just look at a hurricane, no preperation until 24 hours ahead and only if it will hit them, or the ice rink fire alarm report on GN site.
-- Stephan Fassmann (Stephan.Fassmann@ieee.org), April 29, 1999.
I will add my praise of your post. You have many, many talents, among them is a writing ability that surpasses the talent of 95% of the people who churn out stories for the mass media. I would hope you realize some appropriate financial reward for your rare talent.
-- Ann Fisher (email@example.com), April 29, 1999.
To Bonnie with heartfelt appreciation: Reading your post was the most calming thing i have read relating to y2k since reality hit me in Dec. of last year. I seem to stand alone in my family, with my friends, and within my community. I have tried to talk to them and have recieved the usual comments of "the government says it will be ok", "it's only going to affect business", "i don't have money to buy extra", and the best one of course "you always were a worry-wart!". I volunteer at the school through out the year so I tried to talk at the pto meeting and they said, "the kids will just get a few extra vacation days." Which brought laughter from the rest of the room and they went on with their meeting to convert the library to computers. At my weekly cub scout meetings i suggested teaching the boys some basic survival techniques and the other leaders said the boys were too young and it wasn't necessary because the whole thing was going to blow over in 2 to3 days. After expressing to my parents,(both in their seventies and living an hour away in a big city) that i would be a bad daughter in my own eye-sight if i wasn't at least sure they had an alternate source of heat and drinkable water, my mother resigned to buy a kerosene heater and some bottled water. I live in a small rural community, and have known many of my neighbors since childhood and it inconceivable to me that we cannot ban together and pool the resources and talents of the masses. Just because many have ponds and fireplaces they feel safe. Many of the things that people are learning to do because of y2k are a part of our everyday routines, but we also use those things as quickly as we amass them. I am going to print your story and share it with the non- believers....just maybe a good reminder of what the past has brought us will be more of a wake up call than anything that the main-stream media is ever going to report. Again my thanks, and may God Bless You and Yours.
-- renee walker (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 30, 1999.
It is not often such enjoyment comes from looking at my computer screen. Thanks Bonnie, and may God continue to allow you to richly bless others.
-- Ramsay (look@JesusChrist.com), April 30, 1999.
good essay with good reminders for anyyone. most things I've read about the upcoming Y2K 'problem' is usually 'doomsday' and, I feel, sensationalized. there probably will be some minor glitches, but I think most of the problems will be because people THINK there will be problems (thank you to the media). growing up in New Hampshire, you anticipate having some days without power, etc., due to the weather. it is common sense around here for people to have extras handy. my mom always has enough food for a few weeks, even now that it's just Dad and her. even if there were no long-lasting storm problems, she always had some to give to a needy family at any time of the year. Bonnie's essay was a nice reminder of the (Biblical) values our parents and grandparents lived by -- which are very rare in today's 'instant society'. people are so used to instant gratification of their needs and desires, they don't know anything about planning, perseverance or diligence.
Proverbs 10:4-5 He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich. He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame.
-- Kim (email@example.com), April 30, 1999.
It's funny how being prepared, which is what it was called when I was a kid living on 300 acres in a county of 500 people, is now called "survivalism," "hoarding," etc., and the only people that do it are "fringe players." This media crud of "naming" those that don't conform to today's consumerism paradigm is specifically designed to make prudent people look like whackos. When a president can't keep his pants up, when he calls everyone who disagrees with his way of thought "hate talkers," when his proxy (Hillary) is allowed to "name" anyone who disagrees with THEIR policy "right wing extremists" and the media merely spoon feeds it to the public, it is definitely time to start watching the edge of the picture for the mistakes and omissions.
Concentrating only on what the magician wants you to see is the only reason that magic works. If you look at what they don't want you to see, it simply isn't fun anymore. I like fun, but narrowing my vision sounds like missing the rest of the picture.
-- Mike Peters (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 30, 1999.
This section of this post is rated G, suitable for general consumption. Two days after I posted the above story, I left with my husband on an out-of-state trip. I tried hard to answer all the e-mails which had arrived in my in-box in those two days before we left, because I don't like making people wait for a reply, or not acknowledging their kindness in taking the time to write me. We did take the laptop on this trip, but getting online access turned out to be more difficult than expected. I also could not access my mail at the address I had posted with the story.
When we arrived home last night and I could access my e-mail, it just kept downloading, and downloading, and downloading. Caution: the next part of this post is rated GP; adult understanding of the many variables in individual choices may be required.
First, I have received many requests for permission to reprint my story in a wide variety of places. I very much appreciate the courtesy expressed in these requests. However, as I have already written to some, the truth of the matter for me is that when I post something to an open forum, I think of it as being free for anyone to use or discard as they see fit. I also believe that the only way for the amassed wisdom of the past to be of use is for it to be passed on. I do give my permission for reprints or retelling of my story. Feel free to pass it on, if you think it has value.
Here's the part which may require understanding that there are different choices individuals make which may all have validity. Over the last year I have been posting my thoughts online, I have received offers to write for a fee. Since posting this story, I have been offered various kinds of honorariums, free subscriptions, or amounts of money. These have all been kind offers and I wish readers to understand that I have no problem with people being paid for work they do, covering costs incurred, etc. But my individual decision is that this is not right for me. I began promoting Y2K awareness and the value of being prepared for risks as a volunteer effort, and I have decided to continue in that manner. Therefore, I have, and will continue to turn down any offers of payment. I wish that I could pay every person who has taken the time to make a hot link to help in ease of access, or every person who has posted tips or links or questions or information of whatever type, or even every person who has put forth an opinion considered contentious. I gain from them all, but I don't even have the time to give a proper thank you to the many hundreds of you who are giving your time and effort.
Caution: The remainder of this post is rated R. Actually, I should say it is rated URS -- UnReserved Sentimentality. Readers who are uncomfortable with heartfelt, mushy sentiment should stop reading now.
As I have read all the incoming letters, there has been mail thanking me for the story because it had a calming effect when they were otherwise feeling very hassled by being called crazy or worse. My eyes misted.
I have received mail relating other memories and stories about the hard-won wisdom of parents and grandparents. The tears rolled down my cheeks.
I have received thanks from people saying, "I knew these things... I remember now my own grandparent's words...how could have I forgotten? You have given me back something precious." Shoot, I got to thinking I might as well break out my stash of grandma's linen handkerchiefs and forget about these disposable tissues...
I have received thanks from people who have learned hard won preparation lessons by surviving far greater traumas than many of us can imagine. I'm lucky I haven't shorted out my keyboard.
Through all of the wonderful, kind input I've received, I've learned that I am far from the only one who "remembers", and that there is a wealth of passed-on wisdom still being used to advantage every day by many -- or which now will be put into practice because the memories have been refreshed.
One of the most important elder lessons I have been reminded of by all of you, is that there are riches in the world which have nothing to do with money. For each and every person who has responded, either on this forum or by e-mail, you have my heartfelt thanks. If I cannot respond to you individually (although I will try as time allows), I still want you to know that you have made me feel very rich indeed.
-- Bonnie Camp (email@example.com), May 01, 1999.
Bonnie: Thank you so much for a wonderful, insightful post. I printed it out and showed it to three generations of Michaels!
-- Rob Michaels (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 01, 1999.
-- J (email@example.com), May 02, 1999.
Bonnie, THANK YOOU!
Your story reminded me of my grandmother who died in 1980. My mother still has boxes of bar soap that she used to handwash clothes as a part time job in the evening in the 50's and 60's. she never threw out a piece of cloth because it could be made into a rag or a quilt. She had jars of buttons. She visited us every Tuesday to darn our socks and mend our clothes.
I'll think of her as I learn to can this Fall.
I'll read your story in January by oil light to my rich neighbors who came to us because they ran out of food and had no wood, who had no bleach to purify their water and who ran out of toilet paper.
Thanks for the wisdom.
-- John Littmann (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 19, 1999.
Thank you, Bonnie, for such a wonderfully, well written article. It truly speaks of a lifestyle that has been lost within our credit based society. I grew up in a home with a pantry, located in the basement, which was constantly stocked with canned goods, "store bought" canned goods, water and some dehydrated foods. We went to the pantry for emergencys such as a tornado. We even went in there when the Sox won the pennant. The sirens were going off as if an air raid was coming our way. Many more memeories have come through your writing.
You have put a perspective on Y2K that no one else has touched upon. Thank you for your insight and sharing it. This is one to pass on. Thanks!
-- MB (Vest54@aol.com), June 24, 1999.
Another thanks for Bonnie!
-- Brian (email@example.com), June 25, 1999.
Thanks, Bonnie. Those are my elders too.
And thanks Bob. We ARE our brother/sisters keeper. Having a hard time these days, as the clock is ticking down, because most of them just don't want to be kept. Having to check my priorities, re: where to spend my emotional and spiritual resources. Prepare on...S
-- ska (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 26, 1999.