I've been preparing for the oil shocks for a long time now. I heard the news earlier than most of you--a few years ago--not because some stranger told me, but because my husband was smart enough to read the signs. I wish we'd had a few more years to get ready, but overall, our lives our looking up.
My job, though not highly paying, is enough to live on even if my husband loses his, and it will definitely be one of the last to go. I work in transportation solutions, encouraging people to use public transit and find carpools--stuff like that. I'm expecting a lot of phone calls in the next few days as people start to realize what's happening and how little they can afford to continue driving to work. They'll want to find carpools and vanpools to work, and they'll call me. Atlanta commuters drive farther on average than anywhere else in the country, so we have a lot of room to fall. I won't get a raise, but I will have pretty good job security, as long as the federal funds that pay my salary are still around.
I live about four miles from work, so transportation for me isn't an issue. I usually take transit there and bike home, which is easy and convenient, but I could bike both ways if transit becomes less reliable.
For food: though we live downtown in the heart of the city, we have three garden plots. I won't tell you where they are, because I am worried about people stealing from them--it's happened in the past and is all the more likely to happen now. But they're reasonably well hidden if you don't know they're there. It's not enough for us to be self-sufficient when it comes to food, but if the farmer's markets stay in business then we'll be all right. The farms from Athens will probably not be coming in, but truly local farms will probably be able to make it in. If not, then we are friends with some farmers just outside of the city who might be willing to sell to us, even if things are bad. They can grow a lot more than they need for the two of them.
For community, we live in a great neighborhood and we know most of our neighbors. Many of them also garden and have low energy needs, so we'll be more likely to work together as things get bad.
For money, we've been collecting silver and gold for a few years. The dollar currency is not going to be able to hold up if oil keeps shooting up as dramatically as I think it will. Our collection of precious medals isn't huge, but it holds its value, and we have it for emergencies, depending on how things play out.
I have an '83 Mercedes that I run on biodiesel, and my husband has an '87 Mercedes that we converted to run on straight vegetable oil. We have a source for biodiesel about two miles from our house. But if things in the city really deterioate, we'll just fill up the SVO car straight from a dumpster and get the heck out of dodge. We've done that before, to test it, so we know it can run on that, even though it'll be better if we have time to filter some first. If I get a chance in the next few days, I'll sneak out and get some and filter it ahead of time, so we'll be ready to get out if things get really sketchy.
Which brings me to my real concern: this city itself. For ourselves, we're pretty well prepared. But most Atlantans are utterly unprepared for something like this, and many of them were living hand-to-mouth as it was, even before this happened. Class tensions in this city have always been a little tight, and there are a lot of people on the street in our neighborhood. Problems between the haves and the have-nots always get worse when there's less all around to be had. We've got our emergency kits packed: hand-cranked flashlights, dried food rations, clean water, money. But there's one thing missing that I think we might regret not having: a gun.