Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Griping Despite the Plans

The last week’s been a bit intense here at The Homestead. It’s nothing serious, but the family and I are getting a little ragged.

Dad’s not typically one to take action. He’s not a good leader, in most situations at least, so the rest of us tend to just work around him. Instead of preparing, Dad tends to sit around and gripe about the way that things are going. He’s had quite a few complaints about the U.S. government lately, of course, just like many of the rest of us. However, you won’t catch Dad doing anything – not even sitting down to write a one-page letter to one of his representatives – because that takes valuable time that is, apparently, better spent complaining and ranting.

Now, I’m all for a good rant and all. I have a few good ones in me, and will let them loose when appropriate. However, I’m also all for taking action: rant and complain for a bit, then do something about the problem…or rant while you take care of business. Instead of sitting around and complaining that hyperinflation is practically guaranteed because the U.S. has been printing money in the basement for, you know, YEARS AND YEARS, the family and I (minus Dad) are redoubling our efforts to stockpile food and other essentials. This way, if a one-pound bag of rice costs twelve bucks in the future, we don’t have to buy it...or, at worst, we won’t have to buy very much of it.

Incidentally: We’re also stockpiling other things that might not be vital to our continued existence, but are very nice to have on hand. Mom and I both have dentures, for example, so we’re building up a little stash of the effervescent cleaning tablets. These are not strictly necessary – you can easily clean the dentures without them, after all – but the tablets leave the dentures nice and fresh, and also kill off quite a bit of bacteria. They’re cheap right now, but will cost a small fortune should hyperinflation become a reality.

This week, Dad’s been particularly unhappy about the economic situation, and has been doing quite a bit of griping. Knowing him as well as I do, I would wager that he's downright terrified right about now. He’s afraid that, if a five-pound bag of flour costs seven bucks, we’ll go hungry. So he’s griping more and more often about the problems that he sees coming, even though the rest of us are actively working on a solution that we hope and pray will get us through whatever comes next.

So, even though there are buckets and shelves and such all over the house with extra food in them – and even though Dad’s sat there and watched the rest of us prepare the food to go into these storage areas (vacuum-sealing the pasta, for example), he’s still convinced that we’re all going to starve to death, like, ten seconds after hyperinflation sets in. He hears the rest of us talking about the problems that we see coming, and about our solutions. He's right there, sitting at the same table with Mom and me, when we make the weekly grocery list, including both food we eat now and food we put away for later.

Part of this is because we haven’t been actively stocking up on food and other necessities for the last two decades. Dad requires a lot of time to get used to something, whether the change is large or small. He’s still confused by the fact that yes, we have a DVD player in the living room, even though that sucker’s been sitting there for more than a year.

Dad tends to not notice things when he’s afraid, too. Like the buckets full of rice, pasta, beans, et cetera. Like the extra toothpaste and other sundries. Like the extra sodas (because we refuse to usher in the Apocalypse without caffeine, thank you very much).

So, over the last week, Mom’s been trying to reassure Dad that we have plans, and that we’re working toward bigger things. The chicks are quickly turning into chickens, for example, and the food stash is growing. Our garden went in recently, and is doing fairly well.

Dad’s not buying it, though. He’s convinced that we’re all going to die, like, three days after hyperinflation sets in. My thinking, though, is that his perspective is skewed, because he’s not doing anything productive about the perceived problem. Obviously, if he’s sitting around, doing nothing but complaining, then there’s no plan, right? Well, that’s his point of view, anyway. He isn't the only one with this perception problem, though: I'd bet that most of us have done the same thing, even if only on a very-small scale for a brief moment or two.

So, what do you do? You keep stockpiling, and you keep telling the worried family member that the rest of you are working on the problem. Invite that person to help out in some way, too. Dad works, and Mom spends part of the check at the grocery store, so Dad IS helping. He just has this idea that he isn’t doing anything, because he doesn’t go to the grocery store, or notice the extra food (even though it's right there, and even though he hears us talking about it regularly). We’re trying to gently encourage him to help out in some other way – one that he can see for himself. Mom wouldn’t mind having Dad build a few shelves for the canned food, for example, because Dad’s good at that – and his shelves would be sturdier than the ones we’re currently using.

We haven’t, however, had much luck with that. Dad might pick up that project later, but there’s no guarantee. We’ll see what happens and, in the meantime, keep showing him the plans that we’re fulfilling as we go. Maybe, eventually, he’ll get the idea.

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