The Trumpbox is 12 3/16 tall and 15 7/8 wide. It can hold quite a lot; according to the label, its “capacity gallon” is 14. It is made of Polyethylene, which I cannot say I really know much about, but I can promise you this, it’s strong. If you try and bend it or rip it or damage it, you would be wasting your good life.
I bought it at the Salvation Army, which means I got a deal. These things, new, they are expensive. For me, it was just $6.95. They always price everything with that .95 at the Salvation Army. I think it is just a way of sneaking in another dollar. I would have paid more. Probably a full $10. But not more than that, because here is the thing: I am embarrassed about it. I don’t tell anyone I know what I am doing. I don’t even like to think about what I am doing here.
When I got the box home, I left it gaping for about a week, like an open jawed mouth. Maybe I could use it to store the off-season clothing, I thought. Maybe I could use it for art supplies.
I was kidding myself, of course. It was going to be for emergency supplies.
I want to make a few things clear here. I am not a doomsday planner. I am not a survivalist. I own no guns. I don’t even have a good knife. Celery and carrots laugh at my knives. It takes strength to get through them with these dull things. Further, I don’t even want a sharp knife. Some of my friends have super impressive knife sets that could cut a carrot in a single slice from across a room. Those things freak me out. But things have been changing for me, since last November, and they keep on changing. Recently, I eyed a hunting knife at WalMart. And I looked up mace online. Apparently, you cannot purchase it in New York State. And you never know when you might need that stuff.
“You never know” has become my new mantra. When you might need mace, a very sharp knife or….food. The Trumpbox has been filling up with it. Each time I go to the grocery store I buy a thing or two extra, to put in it.
It started with cat food. Because in the case of an emergency, some sort of shortage or all our societal chaos, who would want a crying cat at your heels? I bought the cheap stuff. After all, this will never really happen, I thought. Soon after I got some litter. Just a bag. Because who would want to be stuck in a stinky kitty-scented house in the case of martial law?
A couple weeks later, I began purchasing food in earnest. But I noticed I bought the cheapest fare. And things I don’t really like, or eat. Stew-in-a-can, for example. Who eats stew-in-a-can? Hunters? I got it at Dollar General, on sale, which means a mere .80. Nobody could say I was wasting money. It was just .80. Times ten. Because in the case of an emergency, you might want more than one can of stew-in-a-can. Next came hash. Corned beef hash. Disgusting stuff, but when my daughter was nine, she went to a sleepover party at a trailer park and the mom made it. She came home and said, “I want some corned beef hash for dinner.” She said that every day for a month until finally I got some. “Now that is delicious food,” she exclaimed. In case of an emergency, some sort of societal collapse, I could haul out the hash and we could have a good laugh about that. Then, we could eat it.
I got a lot of other canned goods, too: tuna, sardines, soups, beans. I got a plastic container of mayonnaise, because tuna isn’t all that good without it. I got cereals and then because you need milk with cereal, I got some dried milk. When I was little, we lived in Bolivia and I remember my mom made us milk from powder. Did they have no milk in Bolivia? Could there be a time when there will be no milk in upstate New York?
Why yes, I say to myself, walking the aisles of Dollar General, thinking about the news. The president has just marveled at the dreadful nature of nuclear weapons with amazing candor. As if he never thought of it before. Those things are bad, he has said…yet he feels we should build more and as for using them, “I don’t want to rule anything out.” In case of a nuclear war, I find myself thinking, it might be nice to have some chocolate, adding five bars with raspberries to my cart one afternoon.
Another thought had entered my head, however. It wasn’t just a nuclear “event” I was apparently planning for. I was secretly preparing for other things. Some sort of martial law. Or shortages, due to terrible planning or poor national policies, or climate change. I purchased pasta and jarred tomatoes. I got jars of pickles and pickled asparagus, because my kid loves those, and might need some cheering up in the case of full-on societal collapse. And because of this, the possibility for depression, I bought canned peaches, and a few dumb teen magazines. All these things were fitted into the Trumpbox, which I began packing over and over, for optimal use of space.
Batteries. Flashlights. A battery operated radio. And water. How could I have forgotten water? In the case of some sort of end times disaster, water will be essential. The water from the tap might be contaminated or just not coming out! I got a few dozen little bottles. Not so many as to fill the Trumpbox because, well, that is overkill, right? That is crazy town. I am preparing for some sort of terrible forthcoming disaster that will never arrive. What has come over me? I need BandAids, I answer myself. And medical supplies. Aspirin. And extra meds in case there are no ways to get to pharmacies.
The Trumpbox was full by the time I ordered the space blankets. I remembered them from summer camp, when I was a child. They are tiny silvery fold out “blankets” that apparently can keep you very warm, despite their thin nature. As I recall these were things astronauts used. I also threw in a couple foot and hand warmer things and extra socks for the two of us. Because, well, you can never have enough warm socks. And since Trump has clearly been consorting with the Russians, who I figure can have no good plan for us here, I think a few extra pair of socks can’t be a bad idea.
By the time the socks went in, the full purple rubber box had become too heavy to move. But I did it anyway. I pulled it across the floor to the top of the basement steps and then, carefully maneuvered it down them, in a sliding fashion. A couple times I feared the whole thing would topple over and spill out. But it didn’t.
I moved it to the back of the basement. It was hard work. All those canned goods, the water. I parked it in a corner and threw an old plastic pool tarp over it because I really didn’t like seeing it, my folly and paranoia. Plus, if there is all-out societal collapse, I wouldn’t want anyone to find it and take it from us.
Then, I stopped buying things to put inside it. I was done. It had everything we might need in case of some terrible disaster that will never happen. The cats and my daughter and I would be fed, reasonably warm, be-socked. I have to admit I wasn’t really looking forward to eating the hash or the stew-in-a-can. But if we have to; if there is some sort of rush on stores or shortages or worse, it is all there. And I admit this all here knowing full well you are probably rolling your eyes. Saying to yourself “another sane person bites the dust”… to which I guess I reply, “maybe so.” But if these things happen, any of them, because we now have a president who thinks we should amp up our nuclear arsenal, build a giant wall and kick out millions of undocumented immigrants, I would be happy to share my booty.
If you find yourself hungry, or without water, or cold, I have an extra space blanket with your name on it, and at least one extra stew-in-a-can. But if your cats are crying, you will have to deal with that yourself. I’m keeping all the cat food. I can’t stand to be around hungry cats.
Last week, the online-ordered mace arrived. I had almost forgotten I ordered it. “What is that?” my daughter asked.
“Mace,” I said.
“What is it for?” she asked.
“Emergencies,” I said. “Things that will never happen, probably.”
“Oh,” she said. And then she said it—my own mantra. She spoke my fears into the world.
“Well, good to have it, right? You can never be too careful.”
“True,” I said, then adding: “Or too prepared.”