Published December 03 2011
Swift: Meet members of worst-case scenario club
The balding, potbellied protagonist bragged that he had all of the super-powers you expected to find in a man of a certain age. He could program a VCR, jumpstart a car and tell you how your stock portfolio was performing.
Lately, I seem to notice that many men in my demographic share similar gifts – especially when it comes to the Boy Scout vow of uber-preparedness.
Recently, I had lunch with a friend, “Eunice,” who talked about how her 40-something husband had become Captain Safetypants in the last few years.
First, he bought a massive generator which could keep a whole Fargo neighborhood humming. Later, he excitedly reported that he had found “the best snow tires in the world.”
She also says he has purchased many flashlights (some with cords, some with batteries), two weather radios, multiple fire extinguishers, a fire escape ladder, a collapsible baton for self-defense and pepper spray (approved by the NRA).
This reminded me of a 50-ish co-worker who routinely lectures me on tire rotation, oil changes and the need to stow no less than three extra keys on my car. This is the same guy who proudly owns a Life Emergency Hammer, which will break out his windshield should his car ever be swept up by a typhoon while driving through North Dakota.
Another proud member of the Worst-Case Scenario Club is my own husband, Irwin. We not only have a generator, but special, hand-cranked, Red Cross-issued radios, which are guaranteed to run in the midst of almost any disaster.
Irwin recently bought a large “super-safe” infrared heater in case our furnace fails us.
We cannot back out of the driveway without him asking me if I’ve unplugged my curling iron, even though I’ve informed him I haven’t used a curling iron in nine years.
He also obsessively unplugs things whenever we go on vacation, just in case the TV or coffee maker should spontaneously burst into flames.
When I was talking to a co-worker about this, she burst out laughing. Her husband happens to be president of the Worst-Case Scenario Club, she said.
Her hubby stockpiles food and has bought land to raise vegetables, just in case they aren’t kidding about that 2012 stuff.
He taught their daughter to drive so cautiously that she almost flunked her driver’s test. The instructor asked her why she kept veering all over the road. She replied that she was trying to avoid potholes to protect the suspension.
I guess it’s all just part of life’s journey. At 17, guys drive the family car 120 miles per hour on gravel roads. At 47, they shake their fist at the hooligan who does that and report it to the police.
Then again, at 47, we’re a lot more aware of life’s dangers. We have families and homes to protect, and we recognize our vulnerability.
No wonder some men transform from emergency room visitors to emergency managers.
Or, as Teddy Roosevelt once said: Walk softly, and carry a collapsible baton.