Poor people accumulate work because being poor means knowing that, sooner or later, the bad times will be upon you. We accumulate unpaid bills. Or old phone chargers. Even worries.
GERARDO TECÉ – CTXT August 2020 ( Link to Original Text )
I’m considering the possibility of becoming a prepper, I don’t know if the term rings a bell. Around this time every year, I dedicate some of my holiday time to the research of various social trends, religious faiths and popular ways of life, just in case one of them fits me –and because independence breeds uncertainty. I remember one summer, I went with the classics and tried to adhere to a religious faith. I read through the ones most recommended on the list, on the lookout for a good deal on discount vital truths. Since it was the closest one available, I started with the Catholic faith. I’d love to be one of those disciplined people that go to church every Sunday and get together with their peers regularly, but laziness –which, as it turns out, is also a sin– finished off my interest. I tried out Buddhism, but it seemed too naive, and also the Muslim faith, but I gave it up as soon as I found out about its deal with alcohol. There was another summer in which I flirted with raw veganism. It’s a diet that works exactly as you’d expect: you may only eat fruit and vegetables, and you can only eat them raw, like a savage, you’re not even allowed to boil them. The experiment lasted the time it took for me to realise that the salad I made clearly lacked a generous dash of olive oil, another one of vinegar, and a bit of canned tuna. I also failed in my attempts to practice yoga, and the same can be said for meditation –I get annoyed just thinking about both these activities. One time, while meditating –or rather, trying to– my pulse reached 120 beats per minute. It was a record, as an expert told me, equal parts astonished and calm. From failure to failure until we reach the final fail.
Until this year. The preppers, as they –well, we– fondly call ourselves, are people that prepare for “the event”. The event could be just about anything. From a global pandemic even more brutal and deadly than the one we’re currently enjoying, to a nuclear war or an environmental crisis, with the usual stops at an alien invasion or a zombie apocalypse. It’s looking good, right? To be a good prepper, my research says, the first step you must take is to accumulate. I don’t mean to brag, but I am exceptionally good at accumulating. So much so, that my entourage often uses the word Diogenes when speaking of me. Accumulating, as opposed to what you might expect, is something mostly poor people do. The poor accumulate more than the rich. The poor stockpile shoes, shirts and pants. We don’t dare throw away anything old or ill-fitting because who knows when it will come in handy. The poor rack up jobs because being poor has nothing to do with the state of our bank accounts, yet everything to do with knowing that, sooner or later, the bad times will be upon us. We collect unpaid bills, which is the equivalent to the amassing of fortunes of the rich, but in the opposite direction. Or old phone chargers. Who knows, I used to defend myself, maybe technology, like clothing, will take a turn towards the vintage and they will have a purpose once more. Poor people hoard so much, we even hoard worries.
Where preppers are concerned, the goal is to stockpile on non-perishable foods. Another one of my fortes. I have under my belt years of family members, partners and flatmates angrily asking why I put products that we already had at home in our shopping cart. So what if we already have it, I want more, I demand my right to hoard like a supermarket aisle Braveheart, mounting the shopping cart like a horse. In my defense, I have every right to stockpile cans and envelopes full of dehydrated dust, especially when their price is so paltry compared to the infinite sense of security they provide. Imagine all that food, with a consume-by date in a year you cannot imagine reaching, in military formation, neatly arranged in your kitchen drawers! I can’t think of anything that could provide more inner peace. The same inner peace, I assume, others reach through Buddhism, meditation or eating directly out of the flowerpot. In order to stockpile on a massive amount of food, I read in the introductory tutorials of this admirable cult, a prepper must have a sizable pantry, an underground bunker or an empty storage unit. This is where the difficulties arise. The poor have so much to accumulate, yet so little space where to put everything.
However, a prepper is made, not born, and as such, the cult provides an alternative to the space problem. A prepper without an appropriate storage unit should learn how to generate their own sustenance in order to be ready for “the event”, my research says. Although this branch of prepping consisting of becoming some sort of domestic McGyver doesn’t appeal to me quite as much as the paradise of a room filled to the brim with canned food, dehydrated envelopes and bottled water, I decided to try it out. Yesterday, I took out an avocado’s pit, I washed it and I put it in a glass of water, following instructions found on the Internet. The pit must be covered with water only halfway, so it must be propped up with toothpicks. Now I must wait. The preppers and the poor both know a thing or two about waiting. In a few weeks, the pit will sprout and life will burst forward in the shape of a green shoot. In this moment, the pit and the shoot will be moved to a planter, where it will receive care and education. A few years later and having outgrown the planter, having become a tree, the moment will come to set it free and search for a favorable location in the middle of a field, somewhere sufficiently hidden so as not to be found by anyone else. In around 14 to 15 years, says the web page, this tree will be full-grown and might give fruit. Or not. The adventure is worth it, although the date, the year 2034, fills me with the opposite feeling I get when I see 2034 on a can. I think I’m getting worried again. I’ll keep looking up religions.