One of my husband’s very favorite customers is a wealthy gentleman from Canada. This fellow has an impressive collection of custom designed and hand-made motorcycles. Heck, he designed them himself. Mr. Motorcycle.
He has two other homes in addition to the one in the Calgary area.
This fellow knew about the flooding but like so many of us, he lives a very comfortable life. One in which, “It won’t happen to me, or if it does, I have plenty of money in the bank to handle anything.” In fact, when Calgary police came by his house and suggested he evacuate, he figured he’d be fine. The last time his home was “flooded” he ended up with a muddy front yard.
You know, I don’t fault that line of reasoning! It’s worked for millions of people quite well over the past few decades. We have insurance of all types, money in the bank (or at least most of us used to!), and lots of other resources. It’s hard to imagine going from having plenty to having nothing. No, not just hard. Impossible. See “normalcy bias“.
But let me tell you what happened to him.
He took a few precautions, such as moving his motorcycles from the basement to the first floor of his home and then he went to sleep Thursday night, safe and sound in his beautiful home. During the night he woke up to some loud sounds coming from downstairs and when he went to see what was happening, it was flood waters coming through his windows!
He managed to escape through a backdoor, got in his Lexus and began racing down the street, only to have his car flip over in the rising waters. For a short while, he was trapped underwater until the car rolled back over.
Fortunately, he was able to get out but at that point he had only one thing with him: his cell phone. His wallet, ID, passport, cash, absolutely everything was left in his home, and he had just watched that float down the street, along with a valuable collection of original art.
So, here’s a guy who has been phenomenally successful, wet, on the street with nothing but the clothes on his back and a cell phone. Just like everyone else.
At some point in a crisis, even the very wealthy have to find the basics in order to survive: shelter, water, food, warmth. It all comes down to that.
You probably don’t have millions in the bank or a collection of designer motorcycles, and maybe that’s a good thing if it brings with it a sense of perpetual security.
Do you have a few hundred dollars, in small bills, on hand in your home? If so, you’re better off than Mr. Motorcycle who now has to find a bank that hasn’t been flooded, convince someone there that he is who he says he is, and get some money to cover the basics.
Do you have an emergency kit, packed and ready to go? I really wish my husband had given this customer a copy of my book! Perhaps he would have grabbed the kit and his cell phone and would have been better prepared. On the other hand, since he also lost his car, maybe the kit would have floated away along with it.
Have you put together important documents in a Grab-and-Go Binder or something similar? Our customer now has to track down insurance policies, basic identification, bank records and so many other details to start putting his life back together.
Do you keep really close tabs on local weather and news when you know something big is hitting, or will hit, your area?
Have you talked with family or friends who live in outlying areas of the possibility that in a really big emergency you might have to bunk down at their place for a while? If so, have you considered packing a bin or two of supplies to store there, just in case?
Other than having cash, none of these costs much of anything. You don’t have to sell your custom Indian in order to pay to be prepared! Now, at some point in the journey, it will cost something to set aside extra food, buy a water purifier or two, but just to cover the basics? That’s pretty cheap.
Going back to Mr. Motorcycle, thank God for good friends! As of yesterday we learned that he was staying with a friend and recovering from the whole incident. Several of his employees were trapped on the top of their office building, and I have no doubt that Mr. Motorcycle is moving heaven and earth to make sure they are rescued and reunited with their families.
What does he have left? Well, most importantly, the personal qualities that have made him successful in the first place, and then his assets in the bank and elsewhere, and friends.
Whether it’s wildfires, flooding, a devastating earthquake, or something even worse, all of us are left with the same things, aren’t we? It all comes down to what’s inside us, whatever physical assets we have, and the people we can count on when we’re left with only the clothes on our back and the cell phone we use to call them.