We drive to town through the smoky skies for our weekly errands. Arriving at the business to which I’d emailed my files for printing, I learn that their email is down, and they haven’t received my files. I have my laptop with the files, but they don’t have wireless service or a USB storage device. There is no means of transferring the files to them. Lesson: bring the thumbdrive or flashcard reader as well as the laptop. Resilience means having backups if plan A doesn’t work.
We head towards the grocery store and learn there is a power outage in town. The grocery store has closed down. No groceries. We shop weekly for groceries, and this is our day. Can we eat for the week? The good news is we’re prepared on this front. We will be picking up our local raw milk and eggs later that evening. We have plenty of food in the refrigerator, freezer and pantry. We will miss fresh produce. But we can eat just fine this week.
We’re scheduled to meet out-of-town visitors at a local restaurant. Since we’re near the restaurant, we swing by and find out that it will be closed because of the power outage. We need to phone our visitors to arrange to meet for dinner elsewhere (as well as to phone other restaurants to find out who’s even open on a Monday night).
Fortunately, we have their cell number. We have just gotten a different cell phone service and this will enable us to test its coverage in town. Bad news: coverage is abysmal; a call never even connects. Ditch that service. There were very few people out and about, and I was hesitant to use a stranger’s cell phone (that might change in future!).
We drive a few blocks to use the landline at a friend’s house. Oops, with the power outage and her electricity-powered phone, there’s no access to landline phone service. Which means that pay phones are out, too, if we can even find one of that disappearing breed. Giving up on calling our guests, we return to the restaurant and wait until they arrive. Fortunately there’s still gasoline for the cars. Right now, anyway. Of course, that’s the least efficient communication means. What if the restaurant were many miles away?
On the way home after dinner, we say, “Today was Collapse Practice. What to learn from this, for next time?”
Collapse requires resilience in a range of scenarios. Resilience, the ability to withstand shocks. An ability to adapt to the unexpected. We aren’t going to be able to think of everything, but increasingly we need to think of continency plans, backups, possibilities, and preparations.
Especially, I need to shift my feeling along with my thinking. Rather than being surprised and frustrated or angry, I need to EXPECT such things. To expect breakdowns, shortages, failures, lack of communications, a long time to get replacement parts, not being able to get through to a real person in some faceless large corporation. I need to see that in this New Normal, “little” collapses like these will occur more often and from a variety of angles. My frustration will be less if I can take a deep breath, remind myself this is The Way It Is Now, and then cultivate adaptation, resourcefulness, and quite likely cooperation with other people — neighbors, friends, and strangers.