Why we do…what we do…An Essay on Being Prepared.

Read this story, look at the image, and then come back here…


Here’s the main picture that has grabbed the hearts of so many Americans, gone viral, and appeared on so many news reports today. I first saw it yesterday on Facebook…

Here’s the key part of the story…as told by Jennifer Foster of Florence, Arizona.

Here’s how Foster, who is the communications director for the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office in Arizona, set the scene, according to the NYPD’s post:

“Right when I was about to approach, one of your officers came up behind him. The officer said, ‘I have these size 12 boots for you, they are all-weather. Let’s put them on and take care of you.’ The officer squatted down on the ground and proceeded to put socks and the new boots on this man. The officer expected NOTHING in return and did not know I was watching. I have been in law enforcement for 17 years. I was never so impressed in my life. I did not get the officer’s name. It is important, I think, for all of us to remember the real reason we are in this line of work. The reminder this officer gave to our profession in his presentation of human kindness has not been lost on myself or any of the Arizona law enforcement officials with whom this story has been shared.”

This police officer, being a truly compassionate human being, saw a need, looked past the crusty self-esteem issues, and out of his own pocket, helped change the life of a man in need, however small, or incredibly large, that may yet be.

As an officer, he had to power to get this potential vagrant moving along, out of the area. As a man, he saw a person in pain. As a human being, he identified a need, took action, asked to help, and followed through on providing assistance to someone who just as easily could have said “leave me alone.”

He served with compassion, with care, with gentleness, with integrity  and most assuredly in honor…honoring his fellow man, his fellow officers in Law Enforcement, his precinct, his town, his state, and his nation. With a pair of boots and some socks…he changed himself into something we should all strive with every fiber of our being…someone who will help…when help is needed. An angel walking among us. An idea. An idiom.

What power…what absolute strength of compassion this officer showed this man…and all of us.  Oh, that we all could be this kind of person in every living moment of each of our individual lives.

So…what about this so called connection to “Being Prepared”?

Think about it. How many times of you lost something. Was it misplaced? Was it stolen?  Did somebody use it and not put it back where it was supposed to be? Did you lose it?  Did you forget about it?  Did you even have it in the first place? Were you robbed of something? Your home burglarized? You or your loved one’s lives threatened?  Or….did you give it up…too much to worry about more important things.  Throw it away…don’t need it anymore?   Did you possible share it with someone who needed it more…who had nothing…whose eyes told you everything, when their voice couldn’t say anything?

The homeless man…no one knows his story…yet. I’m sure it will come in the near future.  We can all assume he once had shoes. We can see that he was wearing tattered pants, and some kind of bag to carry what few things meant something in his life.

Preppers, “doomsday” or otherwise, will tell you a vast array of reasons “why” they prepare, “what” they prepare for, “where” they might prepare or be prepared for, “how” they might prepare, and for “when” they actually DO prepare. Ask questions…and listen…just listen.

Look at the homeless man. Ever felt that way? Like all you had in the world, was what you had on you, in you (food or spiritually), or hanging on your shoulder?  Ever been homeless?  I have. Just for a month…but homeless nonetheless…with my wife, three kids, and 4 dogs.   My wife, who always looks at experiences as an opportunity to learn, didn’t give up on me or our family.

Ever had to go without?  Mac and cheese instead of meatloaf? Markdown groceries instead of brand names? Thrift stores and church closets for clothes, books, and other needed items, instead of the mall, the internet, or the 7-11 on the corner?  My wife and I have done that for our children.  One of the ways that we continue to prepare, is that my wife looks for grocery and other deals.  Our needs are basic and my wife is very practical and stretches our money as far as she can.

Making ends meet. A lot of people can do it. Many struggle…a massive number of us fail. Sometimes those two ends never meet again.

THAT is what Being Prepared for ANYTHING is all about. Having struggles and doing without, and when things get better, you stash a few more of those things that you REALLY never want to be without again in your life. For us? Canned food, tools for fixing things, toilet paper (always bought on sale in 12 count packages of Scott), you get the idea . You probably know exactly what I’m talking about.

Here’s the thing. At some point in your Being Prepared Life, you start thinking about “others”. OTHERS. Those folks all around us on this cold, blue planet 93,000,000 miles away from a small orange star.  Some preppers do it from the beginning. “This stuff is for me, my family and friends.” Some take it a little further. “I’ve got those things covered, plus my church group and scouts”. Still others? Will help with anything they have, where ever they’re needed, as often as needed. They live the life.

Faith. That’s an important word to me.. My family is having a crisis right now. One of my kids…big trouble. My daughter talked to my wife regarding this current situation. She knew I was hurting emotionally over this drama. She knew why. It was my faith…faith in my children…a belief in their ability to succeed. I was having a crisis of faith, and didn’t realize it.

I was stunned. Literally, completely, physically stunned. She called  it. When I finally wrapped my mind around that one word, regarding this home situation…well, let’s just say I broke down for a little bit. Better now.  The pain that one has lost his way is deep, and I will have to let him go down this path on his own. He has to find his own faith…for him…and for his 3 kids. Three sweet, precious, intelligent, loving, and beautiful children…my grandchildren.

But, Faith. That is why we prepare. We know that having a little bit of extra food, extra clothes, extra blankets, extra cans of oil and screws and belts and flashlights, extra shoes and coats…we’ve needed them before…we’ll need them again. We have Faith, that we will have what we need when we need it…because we already HAVE it, or needed it before and didn’t have it.

Boots. Not everybody needs them…but when you have some, you’re almost ready for anything…including winter. 

Homeless guy now has boots and socks. Hope his blisters get some care, and heal soon. Officer DePrimo did a good thing. We should all be that kind of human being.

Way back in 1992, my kids were 10, 8, and 5. We lived on an off ramp of I-35 in North Texas, just north of Lake Lewisville, in a little house that has long since been demolished in what is/was called Corinth, Texas.  A huge mall complex now covers a thousand acres of farm land that used to include that little house.  Literally had traffic coming off the highway at 50 to 60 miles an hour, right at the end of my driveway, on the service road.

I had been working for the Postal Service for a year, and was at work one day. Wife and kids were out in the front yard on a summer day. Coming down the south service road of I-35, was a homeless man who had probably been walking since Denton.  It was hot, yet he was wearing a coat. The kids watched him approach. Before he was even near, they asked mom if they could get him a glass of water. They did.
As he came down the shoulder of the service road, and got closer to the driveway, he saw them waiting for him, with a glass of water.  He smiled. Wife was proud of our children for noticing someone who needed a little help.  She watched as he accepted and gulped the water down.  She noticed his shoes were not much more than tatters…literally falling apart. She sent my daughter in to find a pair of my tennis shoes (I had a few old pair that were in much better condition than what he had on).

The man couldn’t believe it. He came into the yard, and talked for a few minutes, taking off his worn shoes and putting on my worn but still intact tennis shoes. He put his own shoes back in his shopping cart, accepted a sandwich and another drink of water, and was then on his way down the service road, heading towards Dallas.  We never saw him again.

Until I saw the picture above of Officer DePrimo helping the man above, I’d forgotten all about that small tiny moment in my kid’s lives over twenty years ago. All three were excited to tell me about it when I got home from work that day. I hope, that somewhere in their hearts, they remember that day.   They had done the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason.

We’ve taken the opportunity to do similar things before and after that incident.  My children had witnessed our selfless acts in helping people stranded on a highway, when we were on cross-country trips and when we were close to home (we were still in a pre-cell phone world).  Have you ever passed someone on a highway or little road, who looks like they could use some help?  Did you stop or were you rushed for time?  My kids have demonstrated selfless acts towards others, helping, not hurting them.

It makes the mess that my son is in difficult to understand. But those ideals of doing the right thing, at the right time, for the right reasons are important to me and my family.  That memory, of that moment in mine and my children’s life helps soften, however tiny, the pain that my wife and I are enduring right now in our family crisis. We know that all three of our kids do understand, and do believe, and do comprehend that compassion is the basis for living and eventually leaving a good life when we move onto the next plane in our life journeys. My most sincere prayers right now are for my son to work through this hell he is going to be passing through, learn from it, and come back, no matter how long it takes, to the path in his world that once again includes compassion, concern for others, and doing the right thing- right-time, right-reason life.

Be the person that you want your children to be. Be the person your wife knows that you can be.  Be the person that your dog thinks you are. Be the person who others may see as their own personal angel some day.

Do the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason.

That…is why we prepare.

Updated: December 3, 2012 — 9:09 am

The Author

Rich Fleetwood

Rich is the founder of SurvivalRing, now in it's 24th year, author of multimedia CDs and DVDs, loves the outdoors, his family, his geeky skill-set, and lives in rural southern Wyoming, just below the continental divide (long story, that...). Always ready to help others, he shares what he learns on multiple blogs, many social sites, and more. With a background in preparedness and survival skills, training with county, state, and national organizations, and skills in all areas of media and on air experience in live radio and television, Rich is always thinking about the "big picture", when it comes to helping individuals and families prepare for life's little surprises.

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