When I got engaged to my wife, Deb, it was not long after the movie Titanic came out. It had seemed to me that if Jack and Rose had discussed what their actions should be in the unlikely event that the ship started to sink, things would have gone much more smoothly (albeit with a boring ending). [Why, yes, I am a nerd—why do you ask?] So one day I told Deb at lunch that if the situation ever came up, and there was only room for one of us on the lifeboat (or whatever a comparable situation was), she would get in the boat and we wouldn’t argue about it at the time.
So I went back to eating my lunch and when I looked up, Deb was staring at me with tears in her eyes.
“I am not going to do that. I am not going to just walk away, not after I’ve waited my whole life for someone like you to come along. If there’s only room for one of us, then we stay together. If our kids [nieces and nephews, we didn’t and don’t have kids of our own] are with us, we make sure they get in the boat. If someone needs life jackets, we give them ours. If someone needs comforting, we hug them and tell them everything will be okay, especially if we know that it won’t. And when the end comes we’ll be together for it, like we’re going to be together for the rest of our lives, one way or another. So I’m not going to get into any lifeboat. Not without you.”
The subject hasn’t come up since.
Another time, three or four years ago, we got our annual evacuation preparedness leaflet from our dear friends & buds at the company that runs the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant. I read it (okay, glanced through) and saw that they recommended an emergency bag to keep in the car. The idea is to have water, rations, first aid, vital drugs, vital papers [got those in the cloud now], and whatever else the family would need to get through an emergency if they had to evacuate the area with no warning.
When I was stationed in Seoul, South Korea, we had something similar called “bug-out bags.” Only instead of fleeing a nuclear accident we’d be running from a North Korean invasion. (No, my group wasn’t going to stay and fight; we ran communications computers, and our job after the balloon went up was to head south to Taegu and set up shop there, not to try to get work done while within artillery range of the bad guys. Especially since our building wasn’t fortified.) So I brought up the idea to Deb of getting a bug-out bag.
“You mean two bug-out bags,” she said.
“One for each car? That’s a little expensive.”
“No, one for our car, one for Mom’s car. We’re over on that side of the river most of the time anyway.”
I hadn’t thought of Deb’s mom. She was still driving at that point, but she never went any farther than the grocery store without help. Actually… she’d never be able to evacuate, even with our help. She couldn’t get from the car to anywhere without a walker or a cane, couldn’t pump her own gas, couldn’t handle herself in a mob, couldn’t really survive anywhere that she didn’t have a civilized and calm support structure. So we couldn’t take her with us, and we couldn’t leave her at home on her own.
So I didn’t make up any bug-out bags. (You can get pre-made ones on Amazon.com, by the way, if you’re looking for fast and easy.) Instead I decided we’d just stay with Mom and make sure she was okay. If things got better she’d have us with her, and if things didn’t, well… she’d have us with her.
Sometimes there are things you do because… well, that’s what you do. Hard to explain. I think you either get it (in which case there’s no point droning on) or you think the above choices are pretty stupid (hence, also no point in carrying on).