Averting Disaster Preparedness

It’s probably no accident that I believe in Murphy’s Law or the Law of Unintended Consequences, as I admitted in a post several weeks ago. Considering how often things in my orbit fail to go as planned, it’s a wonder I haven’t given up trying to bring order to the universe and stopped preparing, scheduling and organizing altogether.

I’m not playing martyr here. I know I’m far from the only person on earth who has run out of checks the same day bills are to be paid and posted, or who has discovered there are no eggs in the fridge only after the flour, sugar, oil, and cocoa have been mixed, the zucchini has been grated and the cake pan is wearing a coat of nonstick spray. The fact that I now pay all but the occasional medical bill online and never start combining the ingredients for the Jarhead’s Chocolate Zucchini Cake without first assembling them on the counter and verifying quantities is evidence of how easily I bounce back.

That said, when things go wrong at our place, they can go really, really wrong. Like when the Jarhead first arrived at our new home two days after closing and was greeted not by a group of neighbors bearing wine and baked goods but by a team of the county’s finest who approached with guns drawn, ordered him to his knees, and slapped a set of cuffs on his wrists.

Or like the time Princess Primrose came down with a rash that covered her feet and lower legs. Having been down the red bump road several times before thanks to her overly enthusiastic histamine response, we treated her with diphenhydramine and ice cream only to learn three weeks later that she actually had a far more serious condition called Henoch-Schonlein Purpura and that neither Benadryl nor Ben & Jerry’s could cure it.  

Incidents like these have caused me to step up my game vis à vis order and the universe, and have trained me to anticipate the various outcomes that can arise from each and every situation and to devise plans to respond accordingly. Some folks—the Jarhead included—view this as an affliction they like to call Worst-Case Scenario Syndrome. I say you can never be too careful, and they’re asking for it.

I will admit, however, that my thoughts drift in different directions than do those of most other people. For example, when the Jarhead, the Princess, or El Noble get a headache, they’ll attribute it to lack of food, water, or sleep, and subsequently take a nap or have a snack, a beverage, and a pain reliever. When I get a headache,  I  go through the entire range of fatal conditions whose symptoms include head pain, and then spend an hour or so assembling the documents the Jarhead will need when I’m gone, and convincing myself I’m not headed for the crematorium. I’ll still take the food, the water, and the pain reliever as I’m printing the files and planning my funeral; I just won’t give them time to work their magic before coming to the conclusion that I’m coming to my conclusion.

Likewise, when one of the other members of our household fails to come home at their normal hour, I start drafting a mental list of all the hospitals, trauma centers, and police departments that lie between our house and the missing party’s last known location, and pinpointing the time and order in which to start making phone calls. The Jarhead, on the other hand—and, according to him, everyone without a hyperactive imagination—will cavalierly make a note to check in with the missing party if he or she doesn’t turn up by the time he feels like doing something about it.

Not that I’m a Negative Nellie or a Debbie Downer. In general, I’m a pretty positive person who simply prefers to be prepared. It’s possible I am also fond of the letter P. And despite, or perhaps because of, all the craziness I’ve observed or experienced—bullying, death, dismemberment—I’ve come to appreciate even more the days and events that go exactly as planned and to celebrate those that go even better.

Like this essay, which I was convinced I’d never finish in time to post on Monday. And yet, here it is only 2:51a.m. on Sunday and it’s already up.

Man, I love it when a disaster plan comes together.