Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Story Time (Redundancy)

And now, it’s story time. Gather ‘round, Dear Readers, for a lesson in redundancy.

When The Sibs and I were growing up, Mom drove a van. This proved large enough to hold not one, but two, spare tires. Mom also insisted, when she first bought the van, on going out and selecting a four-way lug wrench and floor jack that suited her. These were easiest for her to use, and definitely effective on flat tires, so she invested that little bit of money in them.

The Sibs and I completely understood buying the tools. When we were tasked with changing flats (Mom insisted that we practice before we started driving – not what I would call a bad idea at all), we unanimously preferred the floor jack over the bottle jack. The floor jack was heavier, sure, but it was more stable, and easier for us to use. The four-way wrench was also better than the smaller one that came with the van. You could actually stand on the four-way to get enough leverage if you were small like I am.

However, Mom’s second spare tire? That didn’t make any sense to us. When she checked the air pressure in all six tires, we sometimes brought up that second spare. “What could go wrong?” we would ask, genuinely confused by Mom’s plan. Even though Mom often did things along these lines, we were young and inexperienced. We didn’t know nearly as much as Mom did.

In response, Mom just shrugged and told us: “What’s the harm? There’s room for the second spare, so why not? You never know what’s going to go wrong until it happens.”

However, we all had a simultaneous epiphany the day that Mom got two flats – the second blowing out en route to the tire shop to have the first one replaced. That day, Mom did not have to hike to a pay phone (this was years ago, before cell phones were reasonably priced) to get help. She did not have to wait by the side of the road, in the cold, for the cavalry. She changed the second flat, kept trucking to the tire shop, and had both busted tires replaced.

The overwhelming majority of the time, that second spare was nothing but an extra tire in the back of the van. This tire spent 99.999 percent of its existence doing nothing but taking up space. However, the moment that Mom really needed that tire, it was there, ready to go. At that time, on the side of the road, the tire was worth every minute of maintenance, and every moment of wishing that she had the extra space to haul things in the van. She would have given just about anything for that second spare if it weren’t in that van that day.

From then on, The Sibs and I were on Mom’s side all the way. My car isn’t large enough to hold two spare tires (seriously – my car’s basically a roller skate), but I make sure that I have a workable plan anyway. (A can of Fix-a-Flat fits in the trunk just fine, unlike a second spare.) And whenever somebody else finds out about Mom’s two spares, and makes a smart-assed comment, we’re sure to tell him or her all about the day her plan ensured that she had to deal with an inconvenience, not a full-fledged problem.

Redundancy can mean the difference between getting back on track and being stranded without a workable solution. This applies to every aspect of our preps. This is why people have caches in multiple locations; buy spare parts for their gear, and insist on knowing more than one way to get to and from their destinations. Most of the time, the extra stuff just takes up space. But the moment you want or need the spares, you’re grateful, to say the least, that you have the stuff on hand. All the times that you wondered why you were wasting space, money, time, fade away in that moment, leaving you thankful for having put up with the minor inconvenience of acquiring and maintaining the spares.


  1. Hi Sarah,
    Saw your comments on Mayberry's blog, so thought I'd check you out. I like your writing style and your thoughts. Keep up the good work. Also, like your bullets,beans & bandaids in your blog title. I am finding it amazing how many bloggers are from Texas. I only read, but I live in the Rio Grande Valley. My wife and I have 3 grown boys, 2 of which live at home.We are searching for some land farther north (within 2-3 hours driving time from the Valley)but not much luck. Only million dollar properties available for sale, not something poor folk can afford.
    Oh well, we will just keep on looking.
    Here's wishing you and your family a very prosperous NEW Year!
    Windjammer48 (Justin)

  2. Thank-you, Justin, and a very wonderful New Year to you and yours!

    Land prices are definitely going up where we live, even though some of this is glorified junk land. Maybe it has something to do with more people moving out to this part of Texas. We're close enough to the big city to commute if necessary, and our county doesn't have outrageous taxes.


“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
-George OrwellAnimal Farm