After the last three years trying to survive in our ailing economy, I totally get people who build doomsday bunkers, which I understand are now big business. Not because I believe the end of the world looms, but because you never know when the unthinkable might happen: the Republicans and Democrats might work together, software developers might let a year go by without an upgrade or old rockers might retire instead of scaring people on reunion tours.
Two TV shows are devoted to the bunker builders: National Geographic Channel’s “Doomsday Preppers” and the Discovery Channel’s “Doomsday Bunkers.” And several articles point to the new popularity of preparing for the apocalypse:
Books and magazines tell us how to survive. Even the Colbert Report has added its take on doomsday with a piece on bargain bunkers.
All this reminds me of an exercise we were forced to do in junior high (maybe all students end up with this ethics exercise at some point or another). We had to decide who we would allow into our bunkers during a nuclear war. Our choices included little kids, old people, teachers, artists and housewives among others. The supplies would cover only 10 individuals, who might then be called on to restart the human race.
So I have decided to update my choices for today’s world. I have upped the numbers, because today’s bunkers are not the same as the one-room concrete shelters of my youth.
- My family—Hey, it’s my bunker. What’s the point if you can’t save your husband and kids? Actually, I might have to think a minute about the teenager. Why didn’t someone ever warn me that parenting a teenage daughter could be so challenging? Sadly, I guess I’d have to leave the dog out, because it would be hard to play fetch in a bunker.
- Dr. Phil—I’ve never actually watched Dr. Phil, but how many of us start fantasizing about remote cabins after only a weekend of family togetherness? I imagine living in a few rooms underground for several months might generate some conflicts. Anyone remember Biosphere 2?
- The MythBusters—This is a no-brainer. Why would you not take two guys who can build an outrigger canoe out of duct tape?
- James Cameron—Not only could he document the whole bunker experience on film, but he had the toughness to get to the deepest place on earth and enough science to understand it.
- Stephen King—The man is our generation’s Charles Dickens. He understands human nature better than any other writer out there, can tell a terrific story, and he’d know what to do when the zombies arrive.
- My neighbor Bob from up the street—The guy is eighty, but tough as nails and an ex-mechanic who can fix anything. He can trap, shoot and grow good beans.
- Hillary Clinton—I didn’t vote for her, but I have a reluctant admiration for the woman. I figure she could do a kick-ass job negotiating with the other bunkers.
- Yo-Yo Ma and Florence of Florence + the Machine—What’s a bunker without entertainment? Yo-Yo Ma is one of the most diverse artists around. I include Florence because I love her music. Unfortunately, I don’t think the Machine will fit, but she’s an adaptable composer.
- Bill Gates—We’ll need to wire the bunker. Of course, we might want something more reliable than Windows, but the man has transformed the world.
- Tom and Julie Johns—They are the people behind my favorite vegetable seed company, Territorial Seed Company in Cottage Grove, Ore. Their seed catalogue is an entire course on vegetable gardening, and the company constantly experiments and improves its offerings. With their know-how, we’d never go hungry.
- My kids’ pediatrician—The woman has never been stumped by a disease or rash in 16 years, and she takes a laid-back approach to treatment and parenting. The fact that she’s beautiful, impeccably dressed, unfailingly nice and able to juggle a career and family without obvious stress is a little intimidating, but no one’s perfect.
- David Giuntoli—Don’t tell my husband about this one. Giuntoli is the star of the NBC TV show “Grimm.” What can I say? He’s easy on the eyes, and he might be able to spot any hidden monsters.
So we have a few spots left. Who would you nominate for the bunker?
4/1/12 update–I saw this ad in the Seattle Times on Saturday, March 31. You know a topic has gone mainstream when you see it in Walmart. Now you will never have to run out of butter powder: