In my former life I spent many days, weeks and often months, on foreign soil doing my job in the military. Most often I flew in and out of the country on civilian airliners, in civilian clothes. Often times I entered the country with a date of departure, but soon that changed to extended visits. That is okay though because I loved my job and was committed to the task at hand. Sometimes the task would change mid stride and I would catch another civilian airliner on short notice and fly to another country. Even though I was going from country to country, something that remained the same was my mindset and understanding things could change quickly. This meant, how I could get out of the country if the country suddenly fell to chaos. In my early days, I was in a country that started a national strike of the transportation system. I flew in one day and the strike started a couple of days later. Ouch. Everything stopped. If needed, the only way out of the country would be to pay a driver to get me across the border. How much money? Language barrier? Trust I wasn't being set up? I must have the ability to withdraw cash from my credit card or else have enough cash on hand. What if I am robbed and lose my cash, credit card and identity? So these are things constantly going through my mind, all the time. Mental scenario exercises of "what would I do if?"
Now, as a civilian, I still do mental scenario exercises constantly. What if? How would I? I'm in a strange place, what is my way out? The list never ends. If you have attended any of my classes or read my book, Hope for Survival - How Food, Water, Shelter and Security Could Save Your Life, you already know one of my key points to discuss is the mind. Do you know you? Do you understand your mental strengths and weaknesses? Today. Not from twenty years ago when you jumped from airplanes or served as a first responder or another active role. Today. If you are like me, I had to accept the fact that age and past injures and surgeries slowed me down. So, we must accept these limitations of physicality, but how the mind still works is the point. Do you exercise your mind with "what if scenarios? Do you do it with your family? Having "table top" drills on possible scenarios you could face is important. Get out of the box and view things from the outside looking in. We call this the "out of the box" thinker. The one who won't set in the restaurant with their back to the door or windows. The one who always knows where the second exit is at. Or, the one who won't rent a hotel room on the 1st or 2nd floor. Sound familiar? Let's do a simple exercise to demonstrate the point.
Something seems out of the norm all day. Every news channel is talking about panic in Washington D.C. over something, but you are not sure what. It is there problem, not yours. You are focused on your family and career. You have a small grocery list of items to collect on your drive home and you need to grab some cash for the weekend.
You stop at the ATM just inside the doors of the grocery store. For some unknown reason, the store seems very crowded. You swipe your ATM card but you get an error message. You swipe again, no luck, error message.
You hurry through the store to pick up your items and then head back to check out. Still oblivious to the ATM issue, you are now checking out. The cashier tells you the total and you put your credit card in the processor and wait. The cashier's drumming her long red nails on the counter. You wait, and wait, and wait. Behind you, someone in line lets out an exasperated sigh. Declined. You apologize to the casher.
Annoyed, you head back to your car where you pull out your cellphone and call your bank. After three tries a woman's voice answers but it's just a pre-recorded message that was garbled and could not be understood. You hang up and start your engine as you are feeling baffled. Still not totally aware of the situation, you stop for gasoline on your way home. Before you can speak, the attendant asks "are you buying or selling?" Confused, you tell him you want to fill up the tank, but when you pass off your credit card for payment, he suddenly backs away. The man suddenly steps back and says "sorry, we are closed. "
Finally, you shake your head and drive off towards home. You arrive and share to your wife what happened. She agrees it's strange but figures it is probably just a computer problem at the bank. She suggest they will have it resolved the following day.
You wake up at 3 A.M in a cold sweat and a churning stomach. You know something is not right. You realize, as a bank customer, your bank would have notified you of any problems or issues but instead, you heard the garbled message. Cap it off with the gas station attendant. You can't go back to sleep so you are up and showered early and out the door to be at the bank when it opens.
You arrive and determine the bank appears closed. You walk to the entrance to find a piece of paper taped to one of the doors telling you that it has been temporarily closed. Hmmm. No explanation, just a phone number to call. You call the number and find it to be the same phone message from the previous day. Garbled.
You head towards your vehicle and notice a man kneeling down by a pickup truck parked nearby. He has a hose running from the truck's gas tank to a jerry can. Suddenly he looks up and catches you staring at him. The stare you receive tells you to move on.
You are now noticing everything to be closed. Every business door appears to have the same piece of paper as the bank. Every ATM has the green screen of death. You see other individuals trying to deposit checks for utilities and take out cash or find out why their cards suddenly aren't working. This is not just your bank, the entire town is shut down. By the time you realize your efforts to be worthless, main-street is jammed with traffic.
You take an alternate route by the gas station from the previous day and notice it is now closed. Inside you see a pickup truck next to one of the pumps. Four men are standing around it. One of them is holding a crowbar,
Your wife's relieved as you walk through the door. Apparently people have been coming by all day asking if she has any cash, offering to too sell things. Oddly, they are not people from the neighborhood. You turn on the TV and all you see are the same images of closed banks, smashed store windows, and talk of some kind of "crisis." No one really knows what's happening. Suddenly, your screen goes blue. Text at the center reads, "Service Interrupted: Please Update Payment Info." You shut off the TV and go look out the window.
Your wife wonders aloud whether you should invite the neighbors over. You agree. This is looking like a time to stick together, The sun is starting to set. There are black helicopters skimming along the horizon.
You can't deny it anymore, this is it, the beginning of something you've expected for a long time now. Except that you never really knew when... or what form it would take. And maybe you even gradually stopped believing it would come at all... except that now it's here. And as you stare into the coming night, you wonder how long the food in the pantry will last... and what you might have to do if this situation doesn't get resolved quickly.
So you have the scenario. I often have a mental exercise around this theme. Economic. A Bank Holiday. An EBT card failure while we are in a shopping mall or grocery store. The realization of "here it is" and the reality of "engagement of the plan." I could go on for pages discussing the plan and being part of the 5% club vs the 95% club who didn't pay their membership dues the past year(s). I don't know about you, but the Bank Holiday, is one of the key potential threats that I watch for the most. It will have be much closer to me and my family than many other threats. In the case of the exercise, I wouldn't need to go to the ATM as a must or the grocery store as a must. Remember, the plan is to stay away from potential masses, threats, and delays.
At this point, anything you may need should already be part of your plan and at your home or destination. When the sun goes down you want to be safe and your plan deployed.
Okay, let's all go exercise our brain. Charge ahead my friends. What say you?