Every man for himself: bad policy

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .


Even though we here in the ‘burgh dodged Cyclone (nee Hurricane) Sandy’s bullet, some of us may have standing water with electrical currents running through it, so there still be dragons to beware out there.

Walkabout brings you this mother moment thanks to an e-mail from the Family Handyman, who offers post-storm tips on how to avoid the ironic tragedy of having survived the apocalypse only to slip on a piece of its detritis and the surly bonds all at once.

I was impressed that tip #1 was to work together. That’s either very American or very un-American; that whole thing is getting ever more confusing. But here it is in Family Handyman black-and-white: “Avoid an 'every man for himself' mentality.”

Hmm. If I avoid that mentality during the crisis, can I hurry back to it once the crisis is over?usflag

Here's the rest of FH's #1 tip:

“Once officials have signaled the all clear, survey the damage to your home and reach out to your neighbors. It will be difficult to drive anywhere for supplies (if stores are even open), and you’ll conserve resources by pooling them. Assess your neighbors’ stocks of food, water and other resources. Eating meals collectively will reduce the amount of food that spoils (use fresh foods first) and will conserve cooking fuel.”

Uh-oh. FH guy used the c words: “conserve” and “collectively.”

Is FH guy some kinda subversive? Lookit: He is concerned about our safety and doesn't want harm to come to anyone, even the unwitting who may be a bit too dependent to be a real Americans. He might even be considered coddling, leading us by the hand through a list of tips on backup water supplies, wearing rubber gloves, avoiding carbon monoxide and yet hiding these one-for-all and all-for-one messages among them.

You can read the whole list here.

toiletMy favorite weird tip is #4: If your basement is flooding, remove the basement toilet to create an instant, high-capacity floor drain. That will also let in nasty sewer gases, so don’t leave the drain unplugged any longer than necessary.

I didn't even get to the nasty sewer gas part before having to stop to wonder.

Basement toilet?

Is that code for something?

My own basement defies the concept, thus the snag in my mental imagery. Then I remembered there are people who have basements with dens and wet bars and bathrooms all nice and clean for breaks in the enormous-screen football game. It has also been pointed out to me by a reader in Polish Hill that many older working-class homes in Pittsburgh have toilets from the days when a steel worker or other laborer would come home and get cleaned up downstairs before coming up to the house that their wives kept spotless.

Yeah, so, my basement is where my cats "go." Amazingly, so far, it’s staying pretty dry.


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