Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Stocked Bunker

My friend, Chuck Conner
Bunkers are fortifications built below ground to protect people in case of an attack or a tornado.  The military used them to house weapons and supplies during both World Wars and sometimes even as command centers.  The bunker was to be stocked with necessities for survival, like dry food, water, radios, etc., in case you had to remain in one for any length of time.  Mine would need coffee, scotch, and an abundance of cigars, although I doubt the girls would allow me to light one up.  I’m not permitted to in our house full of windows, so I don’t see it happening in an underground concrete box.  I thought I could get away with it in the garage when I put my office out there, but no, they didn’t want the storage tubs to get sticky.

A friend of mine, however, has taken the term stocked bunker to a whole new level.  To Chuck, whom I have known since middle school, it’s not just what is around  him that will aid in his survival, but more his abilities.  When Chuck was two, he was diagnosed with Kugelburg-Welander Spinal Muscular Atrophy.  I know, the name goes on forever.  It was finally shortened to SMA Type 3 Muscular Dystrophy.  He has always had a sense of humor and a zest for life, making the most of what Life has handed him.  While I haven’t seen Chuck since we both graduated high school, I have been able to follow his exploits through social media and it’s refreshing to know he has maintained his sense of humor.  He has a unique perspective on human interaction and the ridiculous statements people make when faced with something or someone out of their comfort zone.  I’d love to be able to convince him to write a book about some of the encounters he has with stupid people and their questions because I’m sure it would be a humorous and enlightening read.  However, for now we’ll just talk about his Stocked Bunker.

How could they forget me?
One of the things in his survival bunker is the ability to hold his breath for as long as possible.  He actually practices this, trying to beat his best record each time.  “There’s no ritual about it, no specific time of day,” Chuck shared with me.  “Sometimes there’s no forethought, no prep.  It’ll just pop in my head.  ‘Did I hold my breath today?  Don’t think so. All right…..go!’  I practice taking as little breath as possible before I give it the daily go.  Sometimes, I take barely anything that would count as a breath to hold.  Sometimes, I take no breath at all.  I just stop breathing and go from that point.  My longest time is 3 minutes and 42 seconds.”  I don’t know about you, but I was impressed at his time.  I tried holding mine just to see how long I’d survive.  I’d be gone in 32 seconds.  Pretty sad.

The Man Formerly Known as Chuck
Now, you and I may look at this and wonder why anyone would consider this as a survival skill.  However, when Chuck explained it, it made perfect sense to me.  “It definitely started as one of the responses to a future reality I was/am going to face.  Maybe it’s my way to defy (or deny) the future I know is coming, to put something in place that will exert some small semblance of control over events that no amount of external prepping will necessarily address up in my noggin.  It’s a weird mix of reality-based prep, at least to me, and a Fuck You to a specific event that May take place along one of the possible timelines where I actually live to see the full effects of my disease.  ‘Full blown atrophy?’… ‘Yes?’… ‘Your tables ready.’… ‘Oh joy!’” *Gulp*

What is the scenario Chuck plays in his mind?  First, you have to remember my friend is in a wheelchair.  His fear is that if he were to fall into a body of water, he would drown before help arrived.  “I’m entertaining some future moment where my superior skill of breath holding is fortuitously applicable, where my noodle frame just flops over and my unknown tomorrow caregiver is otherwise distracted.  That is the most realistic scenario I conjure in my imagination.  No prep.  Things often happen unexpectedly.  ‘You didn’t tell me I was drowning today!  I wasn’t ready!’…’Too bad.  You lose.’”  By being able to hold his breath for long periods, he buys himself time to be rescued.  What for you and I may be just a fun exercise, could save Chuck’s life one day.

This game is never going to end
After reading about Chuck’s Stocked Bunker, I examined my own survival skills and came to the realization that in a catastrophe, I’d be one of the first to die.  If I was trapped at the top of a burning building, I’d make it down to the first floor, but then I’d collapse from exhaustion and die right there with everyone else having to step over me to escape.  And heaven forbid I had to climb up several flights of stairs.  I’d make it two flights and then double over, clutching my side and gasping for breath.  I’d wind up with my fat ass on the floor, using the flames around me to light up my final cigar as there was no way my legs would carry me any further.

Just play around me
It gets worse.  I live in one of the hottest states in the U.S. and during the summer months I melt like a jellyfish on the ocean shore.  I’ve always blamed my Hypoglycemia, but the truth of the matter is I’m just plain out of shape.  While playing a game of Shooters on the beach a couple of Saturdays ago, I was praying for the end of the second game to come about quickly before I passed out while tossing the tiny balls.  I could feel myself going, my body turning to mush, my vision blurring even more than normal, but I was determined to stick it out.  I was just hoping not to embarrass myself in front of people I had just met.  I usually wait a year before doing that.

Chuck has the right idea.  He knows his limitations and he plans ahead for the hazards that may arise.  He looks at what may save his life one day and practices it like schools rehearse fire drills.  I, on the other hand, just avoid any building that has two or more floors and remain in the air conditioning.  Chuck’s mindset is one of acceptance whereas mine has always been one of avoidance.  His idea is much better than mine and I’m sure he will out survive me whenever tragedy hits.  I really need to exercise, and I will; right after this bowl of Chunky Monkey ice cream.

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Other posts you might enjoy ~ I Draw the Line
                                             Decide How You Are Going to Travel
                                             Some Assembly Required

Thanks for visiting The Mess! Keep chasing your dreams!


  1. Robbie,
    What a great blog post! I've seen enough on the NEWS to know your pal will be in good company, as MANY are doing the same if that time comes when the world is crumbling around us. Chuck is not out of the ordinary as I've seen some Extreme stories about people with bunkers and have a survival plan.
    Sadly, I would be right by YOU as not be prepared, or be those who haven't a clue what to do! I admire Chuck!! Catherine :-)

    1. I move a little more every day just to say I did lol...Thanks for visiting and commenting, Cathy!

  2. Robbie,

    LOVED this - I still talk to Chuck via social media as well. When I was in the American Legion he was one of our poster kids for the local MDA Telethon. I'll always remember his wit and humor - many could learn a thing or two from him.

    1. Thanks, Roxanne. I saw him post this story almost a year ago, I think. His encounters with clueless people are hilarious as well. More people need to see life as he does.