Dilbert’s Food Storage


Dilbert, the cartoon strip by Scott Adams, is a favorite of engineers (like me) and people who feel their managers are incompetent (I’ll resist a comment).  If you follow the cartoon, you know that Dilbert is a good engineer without any social skills.  Alice, one of his co-workers, is also an engineer but also is much more aware of broader issues.


In the July 7, 2011 issue, Dilbert tells Alice, “I’m preparing for the complete meltdown of our financial system.”  He goes on to say, “I’ve got six months of food and water.  I have batteries, flashlights, and gold coins.” 


Alice says, “I’m prepared too.  I have your home address.  And I noticed that your preparations are light on defensive weaponry.”


After a brief silence, she says, “Can you add some protein bars to the shopping list.”


I wonder how many of us are as well prepared as Dilbert will be.  Six months of food may well be enough to hold him over if he loses his job from his pointy-haired boss, although a lot depends on the market for engineers at the time.  Are we prepared for a job loss?


Public utilities can fail for short times (as in a lightning storm) or a long time in a major catastrophe (earthquake, flood or power plant closure).  Flashlights and battery powered lanterns are a must for the short-term events, but a long-term event may force you to rely on someone else’s emergency power supply if you don’t have one or move in with a remote relative or friend.


A job loss can take lots of food and cash.  You likely don’t need gold coins, but sufficient savings can keep you from having to go on welfare or to a relative for help.  Also, a back-yard garden can be a major assist, particularly if you grow enough to do some canning as did many of our parents a generation or so ago.


Incidentally, the biggest long-term event requiring lots of money is retirement.  Statistics show that too few people are prepared to finance as much as what can easily be the last one-third of their life without a job.  One way to think about it is-- that whatever you save in one year during your working career will be what you will have to spend for one year of your retired life—plus some Social Security and perhaps a pension if you work long enough for an employer who offers one.


As for Alice’s observation on needs for weaponry, you may want to talk to a gun-toting friend.  On the other hand, you may well want to offer some of your storage to neighbors in need--especially to one who can defend you.


Henry K. (Bud) Hebeler