Bad day prep­per

GA Voice - - Columnists -

Well, it turns out the Mayans were just as re­li­able about pre­dict­ing the end of our civ­i­liza­tion as they were at pre­dict­ing their own.

I was char­i­ta­ble enough to give them un­til the end of the year, but 2012 of­fi­cially came to a close with­out any of the py­rotech­nics promised by dooms­day prep­pers or John Cu­sack col­lect­ing a pay­check. Oh well. Guess I’ll get to that laun­dry I was putting off.

When folks watch a movie like “2012” (which no one should) or a TV show like “Walking Dead” (which ev­ery­one should), they tend to put them­selves in the shoes of the sur­vivors, say­ing, “I’d get my­self to an army base, be­cause they’re to­tally se­cure and I could pig out on MREs.”

What peo­ple fail to re­al­ize is that those rag­tag groups of sur­vivors are rag­tag for a rea­son: the world ended. The odds are pretty high that you were one of the hun­dreds of mil­lions of peo­ple who per­ished in a vis­ually stun­ning set piece while John Cu­sack and his es­tranged wife sped past you. You did not win the lot­tery. You are toast.

That’s why the phrase “Dooms­day Prep­per” is a con­tra­dic­tion in terms. There is no prep­ping for Dooms­day. That’s why they call it Dooms­day. We are doomed. I sup­pose one could be a “Bad Day Prep­per,” and I’m on board for that. I al­ways have vodka, can­dles and toi­let pa­per in the house so I’m never caught off guard.

I put some se­ri­ous thought into liv­ing in a post-Apoc­a­lyp­tic waste­land, and I have de­ter­mined that it’s just not for me. If I stayed in At­lanta, I’d be fight­ing off gun-tot­ing street gangs and for­ag­ing for cans of beans at what’s left of my neigh­bor­hood Kroger, which never had a great se­lec­tion on its best day.

As­sum­ing I made it out of the city, I’d be liv­ing off the land, pre­sum­ably farm­ing or rais­ing cat­tle in a co­op­er­a­tive of dirty hip­pies. If I had any in­ter­est in, or knowl­edge of, liv­ing off the land, I would al­ready be do­ing that.

My man­ual la­bor ex­pe­ri­ence is lim­ited to my own back yard, and even that’s been really in­con­sis­tent be­cause I am eas­ily dis­tracted by more im­por­tant things, like a new episode of “Downton Abbey.” And I’m sorry, but I am not sign­ing up for re­pop­u­lat­ing Earth. I know what that would in­volve, and again, if I were in­ter­ested in that sort of thing I’d al­ready be do­ing it.

Also, I do not like be­ing dirty. I pre­fer for my hair to smell like jo­joba, not zom­bie en­trails.

There are those who claimed the Mayan pre­dic­tion was not a lit­eral demise of the planet, but a re­birth of sorts: the dawn of a new con­scious­ness, wherein mankind emerges newly en­light­ened. A kinder, gen­tler planet. I like that con­cept. Less prop­erty dam­age, and it likely would smell bet­ter.

Look­ing back on the year we closed out, we could have really used a re­boot. There are lessons we should have learned.

We should know that noth­ing is ul­ti­mately gained from ral­ly­ing around a com­mon en­emy. Kind­ness, char­ity, and an open di­a­logue are not the ac­tions of the weak. It re­quires tremen­dous strength and courage to pur­sue a life driven by those stan­dards.

I fail in this re­gard on a daily ba­sis. It’s un­fair for me to crit­i­cize the peo­ple I’m up against for fail­ing at a con­cept I strug­gle with so might­ily. I should fo­cus more on lis­ten­ing if I ever want my chance to be heard. It’s called com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and we kind of suck at it th­ese days.

What if we all just agreed the Mayans were right? The pass­ing of 2012 marked the end of an old world. This new year marks the be­gin­ning of a new era, where we try a lit­tle harder, pay closer at­ten­tion, en­deavor to be more em­pa­thetic. Help each other out.

Be­cause the Bad Day Prep­pers are right about one thing: We are not guar­an­teed a to­mor­row that looks any­thing like to­day. So, in­stead of stock­pil­ing Charmin and Spam in prepa­ra­tion for the world to come, maybe we could take bet­ter care of the world we’ve got right now.

To­pher Payne is an At­lanta-based play­wright, and the au­thor of the book “Nec­es­sary Lux­u­ries: Notes on a Semi-Fab­u­lous Life.” Find out more at to­pher­payne.com

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