I posted the other day on Facebook this statement: "Keep calm and carry on", in response to everyone's panic. My friend Crystal responded with "Keep calm and bake cupcakes!" Now that's what I'm talking about! Crystal has been great to keep everyone (especially me) grounded. Despite my appearance, I am not as calm as I seem. But I am doing my very best to set a good example for other spouses and families. I have been checking email non-stop and posting everything I can on our command's website (I am an ombudsman). When this is all said and done, I am going to take an electronic vacation.
Since Friday, I have learned a few things and have made a few observations:
1. ALWAYS be prepared! This goes for anyone, anywhere. You never know when the power will go out, when an earthquake will make travel difficult, or some other strange disaster or accident that could happen. And, for those times when you KNOW you will need emergency supplies (for example a hurricane or blizzard is headed your way)- you will rest assured that you are covered.
I am somewhat guilty of not being prepared. Mainly that was water and canned food I was lacking. I did have all of our passports, birth certificates, and my NEO packet in one place where I could easily grab it and go. But I had depleted some of our water supply and food. I had grown complacent, shame on me. Last weekend I bought a case of water and stocked up on canned food and a few snacks for the kiddos just in case. I bought ONE pack of D batteries (I already had a few extras in my emergency supply.) And- I made sure I picked up a bag of dog food for our furry family member.
Now people are hoarding supplies, which means a shortage for the rest of us. I would love to have the people who produce the show “hoarders” to come here and check out some of these people’s stockpiles. I have a feeling a few of these people have turned their homes into fall-out shelters. I can honestly say I spent maybe an extra $50 or less on extra groceries.
2. NOT being prepared means that you will have to drain precious resources (ie food and water at the store), in order to take care of you and your family. A friend of mine, who resides at Misawa Air Force Base, was without power for several days. They are in the Northern part of Japan- which means it is cold! She was very proud to report they were able to self-sustain without having to run out for supplies- and without draining any resources that could be used to help others that need it. She is awesome and so smart, that lady is.
*note- I am typing this in a Word document that I will later copy and paste to Blogger. We are currently having a power outage as a part of the rolling black outs. I just had to get up and take shelter in the doorway due to another earthquake/aftershock. Good thing I am prepared! *wink*
Not being prepared also means you might have to wait in long lines for bread, water, or even toilet paper. No one wants to have a Communist Russia experience, do they?
3. My father in law always wisely says- “always keep your gas tank over half full”. He doesn’t wait for the “E” warning to come up on the dash- he fills up when he gets down to a half tank. That sounds like an inconvenience or maybe one too many trips to the filling station. Think about it this way- if your car has a full tank of gas and there is a power crisis-slash-gas shortage- you have yourself covered. Once again you will not have to wait in a LONG line to get your ration of gas. Luckily my car was already full so I didn’t have to gas it up. But hubby’s car was on “E”- he is always running on fumes. I was lucky enough to be able to fill up the day after the earthquake. I won’t have to wait in line anytime soon- our cars both use very little gas and we don’t have to drive too far luckily.
I feel sorry for the poor gas station employees. People are not happy that they aren’t being allowed to fill up if they have over ¼ of a tank. But unless they live off base or have a medical appointment in Yokosuka (that will take twice as long due to the terrible traffic situation going on)- they really don’t need that much gas. If we were to evacuate- it would be by air. There is no way anyone would get anywhere by car! It is hard enough to do under normal circumstances in typical Japanese traffic.
4. Disasters bring out the best in some people. If you read my last post- you would have seen the pictures of all that was donated to the relief efforts. It felt like everyone in base came to lend a hand, donate clothing, buy supplies to donate, or all of the above. I gained a little more faith in humanity seeing and experiencing all the love and concern people had for our host nation.
5. (You have to know this was coming.) Disasters also bring out the WORST in people. And that makes me irritable. This is when you find out who are the panickers, who are the complainers, and who are just completely clueless, uneducated and/or willfully ignorant. See numbers two and three. We have been told that we will continue to receive supplies- but people are still hoarding as if we will be cut off from the rest of the world for two months.
Here are some other examples:
*We are being asked to conserve energy due to the Nuclear power plant crisis. I have unplugged anything unneeded and only using the lights when absolutely necessary. Yet I look out the window and see houses with every light on and another family with Christmas lights on their balcony in the tower apartments (they are referred to as “The Towers”). I took a picture of the Christmas lights and posted it on Facebook. All of my friends were livid at the inconsideration, except for one. A really sweet friend of mine (and very young), asked why I was bothered- was the light keeping me from sleeping? *sigh*
*I am hearing complaints about the power outages. Why?? The outages last 4 hours long and we are warned in advance. Is someone missing a favorite soap opera? Or maybe they don’t have iPhones so they are unable to check email. Granted- those who live in the towers and on the upper floors- they have to walk down and/or up many flights of stairs. But why shouldn’t we do our part to conserve energy by having a power outage? Are we more special than the local folk because we are on a military base? My advice? Make sure your lap top is charged so you can type up a blog post while you wait for the power to come back on. Or get an iPhone- then you can post your every complaint on Facebook and piss me off.
*Some people are volunteering only so they can receive special recognition and attention. That just burns my butt! At the town hall meeting last night one lady, while standing up to ask the Captain a question- first had to make mention how she has been a part of the relief efforts. Did she think our base Commander was going to jump up and down and tell her how wonderful she is to give up her time to help those in need? I can tell you that yes, she was there helping. But she also spent most of her time delegating work out to anyone that crossed her path. My favorite part was seeing her masticate her slice of pizza and task everyone in her sights at the same. By day three I was ready to throw a can of STFU in her face. But I was good and held my tongue.
*The negative people are more negative- that is to be expected. But they can get down right insensitive. Quite a few people want to leave. If I were pregnant or had small children- I would feel the same I
suppose know. I don’t want to HAVE to leave. I want things to return to somewhat normalcy (things will never be the same as before regardless). I would like to not have to worry about the power plants leaking radiation into the air. I would like the ground to stop playing Dance Dance Revolution. Complaining and saying how much they hate it here is very insulting to the Japanese, don’t ya think? If we were in America, and had no other country to go home to, how would we feel about foreigners whinging about our country? I don’t like the idea of people packing up and leaving because I fear that will only cause others to panic. However- GOOD RIDDANCE! There would be more power, more food, more gas for the rest of us. Go ahead- max out those credit cards for a flight that may or may not leave. Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out.
6. Japanese people are amazing, strong and resilient. I learned the term gaman from a Japanese friend. Check out this article- Mr. Kristof explains it well. They don’t complain or whine. They mourn those they have lost and rebuild as soon as they can. They know this is an act of Mother Nature, not something they can control- but something they accept fully. No one is wasting time blaming the prime minister for causing this, or thinking they could have prevented the earthquake. They pick themselves back up, and move on.
7. Japanese people don’t loot! See the article I mentioned in number 6. I have heard this from several other sources as well. I love their honesty and integrity!
8. The media can really really suck. I hate how they feed into mass hysteria and fear by over-sensationalizing everything. If you watch some of these reports you would think the whole world is going to die from radiation poisoning. I have had to tell family friends to turn off the TV, everyone was begging for me to go home. And as Jaime so keenly pointed out- you can't compare Chernobyl to Japan's situation. That would be like comparing a Ford Pinto to a Volvo. I don't know- maybe it is not THAT extreme- but you get the picture.
9. I learned today that even though I am staying strong for everyone- especially my children, a good cry can make everything feel better afterward. Today I was admonished for a simple and honest mistake I made. No big deal really- but that is what broke me. I sat down and had a good cry. I didn't even realize I needed to cry until the tears came. I had been too busy to think about it.
10. People all over love Japan, as do I. I found this today on YouTube- I think the flooodgates have been opened for the duration because this made me tear up as well. It is actually cute, no reason to cry. Check it out:
I will now leave you with a smile on my face.