Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life - Neil Strauss (2009)
Part IV. SURVIVE
There is a language of survival.
WTSHTF is short for When the Shit Hits the Fan. And, as disastrous as that may sound, it’s not nearly as bad as EOTWAWKI—the End of the World as We Know It.
Bugging out is slang for leaving your home to go somewhere safe. To do so, you’ll want a bug-out bag (or BOB) full of survival supplies for the road; a bug-out vehicle (or BOV), which will get you out of the impact zone and through traffic as quickly as possible; and a bug-out location (or BOL) stocked with enough provisions to get you through whatever crisis is occurring.
So, in short, WTSHTF, you’re going to want a BOB to bring into your BOV to go to your BOL, where you’ll pray it isn’t the EOTWAWKI.
I learned all this on the Survivalist Boards.
When I returned home from Gunsite, I noticed that most of my friends grew fidgety whenever I began discussing my quest for a passport, a Swiss bank, and bigger and better firearms. Either they thought I’d gone off the deep end or they wanted to talk about something more directly related to their interests—like whether Rock Band was better than Guitar Hero.
This was before gas prices soared, banks collapsed, and my friends began feeling the terror in their wallets. Most people tend not to care about political, economic, and ecological problems until they’re personally inconvenienced by them.
Thankfully, there’s this thing called the Internet, where individuals who feel alone in their predilections can discover a community of people who share their interests. If Armin Meiwes, a cannibal in Germany, could use the Internet to find two hundred people volunteering to be killed, cooked, and eaten, surely I could find a community of survivalists to give me advice.
All it took was one search for survivalist forum to find survivalistboards.com, which soon became a daily obsession. The Survivalist Boards were a treasure trove of postapocalyptic suggestions, ranging from hunting for food at the local zoo if game becomes scarce to making a gun out of galvanized plumbing pipe, a dowel, a nail, duct tape, and a small piece of cardboard.
I read the boards for days, trying to separate the useful, practical advice from the black-helicopters-following-me paranoia. I didn’t know when—or whether—my St. Kitts citizenship would come through, so I wanted to train as quickly, intensely, and efficiently as possible. In addition, because I didn’t plan on living in the Caribbean full-time, I needed to be prepared for the more likely scenario that something would go wrong while I was still in Los Angeles.
As long as I was joining hidden communities, I also signed up for a perpetual traveler mailing list called PT-Refuge. Survivalists understood handheld tools like guns, knives, archery bows, fishing poles, and can openers. But they had almost no interest in nontangible tools like passports, trusts, LLCs, and numbered accounts. Perhaps they didn’t think these things would still be around WTSHTF. Or, more likely, judging by some of the survivalists I corresponded with, they clung fiercely to their own conception of America, and a SHTF scenario was also an opportunity to form a militia and remake the country according to their own ideals.
I called Spencer to tell him to check out the Survivalist Boards. He was in St. Kitts with his brother and his parents—who, unlike my family, supported his endeavors. They were getting citizenships too.
“I knew you’d catch on eventually,” he told me.
“Thanks, I think.”
“These are the kinds of things you should be considering,” he continued as he scrolled through the posts. “The way I see it, there are only two situations we need to be prepared for.”
Since I’d discovered the boards, I’d been thinking the same thing. “Bugging in and bugging out?”
“If that’s what they call it, yes. First, you need to have enough supplies at home so you can survive with no help from anything or anyone in the outside world. Next, you need an escape route in case you have to leave your home. And that escape route should lead you to a safe retreat.”
“Like St. Kitts.”
“Once we get our passports.” He sighed. He’d been feuding over contract details with the developer of the property he wanted to buy, so he hadn’t even filed for his citizenship yet. “Our biggest challenge is going to be just getting out of the city, because traffic will be bumper-to-bumper.”
“I’ll tell you what. Have a good time in St. Kitts. I’ll look into ways to bug out when the shit hits the fan.”
I was already talking like a hard-core survivalist.