contingency plans

Do you ever make contingency plans? I mean, completely unnecessary panic-button plans for the very off chance that, say, the earth is hit by a meteor, or the robot apocalypse suddenly boots up, or the revolution has come and you think that you’re going to end up against the wall? I have many well-detailed plans for many very specific scenarios, and I can tell you with a certain amount of confidence that I’m the lady you want to follow in the event of the blackening of the sun and the rise of the zombies.

It’s been a semi-conscious hobby of mine for a long time, to consider escape routes from buildings in case of a raid by rabid wolves or how I would carry us all to freedom should the earth suddenly drop out of the bottom of the Wells Fargo building and we plummet into ahellmouth of some kind. But I realized, recently, that I have kind of morbid contingency plans in place, too. That what I’m always doing at every moment, is bracing myself in case of utter disaster, from the absurd to the ordinary, zombies to the phone call no one wants to get in the middle of the night.

E called to let me know he was leaving work, that the roads were really bad (because we’ve been stuck right in the middle of a never-ending blizzard of snow, falling right from the sky) and that he was going to be awhile, driving slow and hoping for the best. And as I hung up the phone, I realized that I was already half-way through plans, ideas, considerations, possible outcomes and the smartest courses of action. If he were in an accident and he got stuck, if he were in an accident and he were hurt, if he were in an accident and hurt badly, if he were killed. I realized I was sitting there considering whether I would stay here, in Utah, close to his family, or if I was smarter to move, get away quick and not drive myself crazy with the too-familiar surroundings. Whether I’d pack myself up, or sell everything. Whether I’d just tell my landlord to keep everything, and bolt. And where I would go. Home to my mother? Back to California? Somewhere warm, maybe. Maybe I could move to Florida or Mexico. Maybe I could move to Italy. Maybe I would survive it, if he had an accident. Maybe my life would go on.

I am the kind of person who says things like “don’t borrow trouble!” and “we’ll burn that bridge when we get to it!” and “problems,schmoblems. Let’s have a daiquiri!” I am not the kind of person–I didn’t think I was the kind of person–who worries at things and dreams up problems she doesn’t even have. I am good enough at being anxious about the problems that actually exist and hang out on my lap drinking grape soda (I hate grape soda) and poking me in the eye. I have enough to worry about, trying to distract myself from the things that are real and sad, without piling more things on and watching them teeter.

My first thought, when I realized how, well, weird this was, and possibly dopey, was that I really ought to quit it. But you know, it’s actually kind of nice to think that while my real and concrete problems are not so easily solved, that I’ve got some things taken care of and totally under control, no matter how imaginary they are. You want the apocalypse taken care of? You come see me. I want my personal apocalypses taken care of? I ought to write these ideas down.

17 Replies to “contingency plans”

  1. I used to drive across the Hudson River every day for a year to and from work. I had this elaborate plan just in case my car pitched off the bridge, because Ford Taurus station wagons aren’t known for their buoyancy.

    Are you ready for the ultimate in brilliance?

    I gradually filled my car with empty plastic water bottles. Aquafina to be specific (bc I was working at Pepsi and I got them for free). I drank them every day, and tossed them in the back after screwing the caps on very tightly. The way I saw it, air can leak out of small holes between the seals of windows to door, door to frame, etc., but bottles full of air can’t! The bottles full of air could buy me more time closer to the surface. So, instead of going blorp blorp blorp sink, it would be more of a blorp………. blorp……….. blorp……… hover……….. sink……….. hover………. blorp……….. sink…….. hover…… etc. and I’d have time to get out!

    Everyone I knew thought I was off my rocker.

  2. I have contingency plans. I have so many contingency plans that I generally have multiple sets of plans. What I would do if I were suddenly widowed with 9 dogs and a house…if my partner left me..blah, blah, blah.

    What you can’t plan for though are the things you don’t see. Like your partner developing an addiction you had no idea about in spite of your vigilance. sigh…

  3. That place you went to in your head last night when he called? Is where I exist almost all the time. It’s not fun.

  4. Writing-wise I love this entry, this is my favorite tone that you take, where you are just self-deprecating enough to realize that what you are making fun of is secretly something that makes you so special and funny.

    I don’t do contingency plans as much as I generally have apocalyptic fantasies. I used to mostly have them while riding on my bike, (the doors of parked cars flying open in front of me is a familiar fave, and other things with city buses) and rather than giving me anxiety I find them sort of exhilarating.

  5. Hey, there’s another Lauren!

    I don’t have contingency plans for very much (I somehow just assume that if the zombies come, I’ll figure out what to do) but every time I go in a boat or a canoe, I spend the whole trip trying to guess in the back of my mind whether I could swim to the closest island if I fell overboard or we sank.

  6. So there’s a few of us chronic planners. When I come home I wait before entering the apartment until I hear my dogs footsteps. I imagine his death and how I would feel. He is my soul-mate, my dog.
    I live in Manhattan, Everytime my train pulls into Times Square or Grand Central I brace myself.
    I have an elaborate plan for my exodus from Manhattan when the Nukes hit. Since I would never leave my dog behind and don’t have a car, I’d be rollerblading up Riverside Drive and over the bridge to New Jersey.
    And my best one, whenever I get in an elevator. I size up the occupants and imagine being trapped with them for 24 hours.

    Your a brilliant writer Jen and your site is spectacular.

  7. Actually, my current motivation for being in shape is so that I can escape the zombie epidemic. I swear. In a non pimptastic way and (rather scary coincidence way), the last entry in my blog is about my worries about tripping or not being able to outrun zombies.

  8. Even though I am married and nearly forty and have a job and stuff, I still have a plan for what to do when I become an unwed teenage mother. So, yeah, I’ve been doing this for a long, long time.

  9. I have contingency plans in case we lose the physics of electric current. I know, I know – but it could happen.

    I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only who races through the options and outcomes after a half-sentence of bad or medium-bad news.

  10. Wow, I actually love to picture myself battling zombies a la Mila Jovavich in the Resident Evil movies. Kicks and flips and Matrix-type moves. Just plain outrunning them would hopefully be good enough in most cases.

    My son and I discuss what the best weapon would be. He always says a sword but I think that’s just because he thinks it would look cool. I think a two-handed, two-bladed axe would be perfect. You really can’t assume you’ll be able to get bullets reliably so you’ll have to master running and axe-swinging. At least that’s my plan. I’d love to build a bunker as well. Just joking. But zombies are so fun.

  11. I am fascinated and petrified by apocalyptic-dystopia fantasies in about equal measure…but my strategies for coping really don’t amount to much beyond rolling around on the floor in an agony of horror unless and until my skin is flayed off/I am incinerated/the bank forecloses on my house/the bus completes its plunge off the bridge. Into the acid lake populated with aquatic zombies.

    Years ago my then-boyfriend agreed to meet me after work at my express bus stop, which was part of a cloverleaf of ramps and exits from a major highway. I arrived at the appointed time, and: no BF. After waiting for 45 minutes or so I walked up to a higher parking area…and found his car. Empty.

    It turned out that he had walked down to the wrong lobe of the cloverleaf and was standing around at a completely different bus stop, wondering where I was; this was before cell phones, so we each had more than an hour to wonder where the hell the other was before he finally retraced his steps. But in the meantime, I had worked up my entire Dateline episode of how he had been kidnapped and murdered–the Case of the Vanished Boyfriend. I was close to hysterics, which of course made him think that I was a complete loon.

  12. I have contingency plans for all kinds of things and my husband and I know where we would meet in an emergency. This summer, when wild fires were literally threatening to burn down our entire town, all that planning really did come in handy.

    While I was at work and he was at home, he had to evacuate himself, three cats, and two crazy labradors and he did it. He grabbed all the stuff I had talked about in my apocalyptic contingency planning and headed out of town. It isn’t that I didn’t have five minutes of mini meltdown – I mean, there was only one road out of town and it was surrounded by fire and full of every other evacuated resident – a 20 minute drive that took two hours and the celltowers had burned. But I didn’t end up running around waving my arms in the air in total panic.

    My husband no longer rolls his eyes at me when he sees me count the number of rows between us and the exits on an airplane. He just asks “got it?” Of course I do.

    So yeah, I’m pretty sure I can survive the alien invasion or the rise of the living dead…

  13. Living here in earthquake country, I have contingency plans for getting off the freeway, finding my family, surviving the actual shake, rattle & roll, and then getting the hell out of Southern California. Zombies don’t scare me. Don’t know why.

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