It’s a little early to call it, since I’ve only watched one episode, but I’m going to take the risk and just say it:
My new favorite TV show is Doomsday Preppers, a reality series on National Geographic about the end of the world and the lovable loonies who prepare for it. You thought the moms on Toddlers and Tiaras had singularity of focus? You thought the Hoarders had an all-consuming hobby? Get ready to get schooled.
The show does an amazing job walking the line between sincerity and parody; if you are a member of the so-called “prepping community,” you can watch it for the educational value. If you’re not, you can watch it for the jaw-dropping-ness of it all.
One particularly enjoyable segment featured a mother “prepping” her six-year-old daughter for whatever calamity might befall them. “You’re going to hear Daddy and me say SHTF,” the mom explained sweetly. “That means ‘shit hits the fan,’ but we’re not going to say that, we’re going to say ‘SHTF,’ and when you hear that, you’ll know: the shit has hit the fan.”
So, so many thoughts here:
- she said she wasn’t going to say “shit hits the fan,” but then she did. Twice in one sentence.
- “SHTF,” if she is ever going to actually use that abbreviation, is actually a lousy abbreviation, since she will save precisely zero doomsday-countdown seconds saying four letters instead of a four-syllable phrase.
- “SHTF” might be a good thing to say if she wanted to avoid saying “shit” in front of her daughter. But that was apparently not a priority.
- “SHTF” is worse than lousy, it’s a terrible abbreviation, since, for me at least, every time I’d go to say it I’d think wait. is it STHF, or SHTF? and by then I would have been consumed by an apocalyptic fireball.
- okay, maybe “SHTF” is a good written abbreviation, but if the world is ending who will she be leaving a note for?
Doomsday Preppers left me to ponder all these things in my heart, but presumably all the six-year-old’s questions about the whole abbreviation thing will be answered, since she and her mother and father practice their SHTF Plan EVERY. NIGHT.
In that household, “SHTF” means: coax the several cats into their cages, grab your wheelie suitcases, and bump them down the basement stairs. Crank up the ham radio, hop up on the air mattress, and you’re good until 2015.
This seems totally bonkers to me, of course, but I wonder what this family would think of mine, living in New York City, twelve floors in the air, with nothing but a few extra boxes of Annie’s Bunny Macaroni to get us through. If the apocalypse comes our car is buried in a parking garage that fits a hundred cars in a space designed for twenty. We’d have to walk four and a half miles before getting to the George Washington Bridge. For us to even consider a SHTF Plan is so sobering that we don’t even consider it. Far easier to laugh at the kooks on National Geographic.
Do you have a SHTF Plan for your family?