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Survival Kit for Booksellers, sort of

June 13, 2014

What a strange morning. I went to Simi Valley to visit the new location of one of my favorite bookstores, $5 or Less Books aka The Open Book. I also planned to drop off a UPS package and go to 24 Hour Fitness to do my twice-weekly workout.

Knowing it was going to be a busy morning, I hustled myself out of the house an hour earlier than usual; dropped off my package at the UPS Store; and enjoyed, as always, the long, winding drive on the old Santa Susana Pass road, bypassing the 118 Freeway as all screamsensible people should do.

Now imagine my surprise when I got to the gym at @ 9 a.m., only to realize I HAD FORGOTTEN MY CELL PHONE AUUUGHHHH!!!

Actually, my reaction wasn’t quite that drastic. For a few seconds I debated whether to go home, get it and come back but nawwww – going back I’d be fighting rush hour on Topanga Canyon Boulevard, and that didn’t really appeal to me.

Plus, the survivalist in me, who occasionally pops up, piped in: “I love a challenge!” as it always does, when it isn’t something drastic, like forgetting my clothing. 

Which actually wouldn’t be so awful, for a booksellernaked (“Readers’ Oasis”).

But I digress.

Anyway, bottom line (get it? hee hee!) is that I did manage to make through a full FOUR HOURS without my smartphone, and I didn’t go nuts or scream or hit anyone with my car. So it is possible. But every few minutes, I found myself thinking, “I should post about this on Facebook!” only to realize, duh, I couldn’t because I don’t have my stupid SMARTPHONE idiot!!

Which got me thinking about the whole topic of “survival”. Surviing without a cell phone isn’t that hard. But if you’re regularly out on the road looking high and low, hither and yon, for unusual and/or saleable books, you probably drive to some fairly isolated areas. Next week I’m driving to Arizona to visit family, and there are a few small-town thrift stores I’m looking forward to visiting on the way.

And I always wonder: what if I break down? Which hasn’t happened yet, thank God. But of course, it could. Happens all the time, to lots of people.

Now normally, at this point in my thoughts, I’d have whipped out the ol’ smartphone and ordered several hundred dollars’ worth of survival kits from Amazon, rationalizing that it was worth the expense to “get it fast”. But now I had to actually use my brain, and I realized that maybe I should stop at an actual (gasp!)parissports brick and mortar STORE, like Sports Chalet (hey, if it’s good enough for Paris Hilton it’s good enough for me!!), and see if they had any actual useful survival gear, reasonably close to Amazon’s prices, and which I could actually SEE in person before buying.

I know, right? But it actually turned out to be a good idea. I picked up an already-packed survival kit with a firestarter, whistle, first aid kit, and a few other odds and ends, plus a tarp (good emergency tent) and a few other impulse items. And was pleasantly surprised to find that when I actually had everything in my hot little hands, I didn’t feel compelled to spend as much as I would have through Amazon.

Of course, I couldn’t check the Amazon prices to see if I was getting the lowest possible price. Oh well, so what? Now I have several useful safety items in my trunk, using one of the many handy-dandy cloth tote bags I’ve acquired since the L.A. City Council outlawed plastic grocery bags. So if (knock on wood!) I do break down in the desert, I’ll at least be able to manage for a few hours before falling to my knees, sobbing and bargaining with any Divinity who happens to be listening.

OH – and while shopping, smartphone-less, at one of the two Simi Valley Goodwill stores, I found this EXCELLENT book:

The Desert Survival Handbook, by Charles A. Lehman. (No relation, but boy, I’d sure be proud if he was!)

I’d highly recommend getting a copy of this book and keeping it in your car or backpack. It’s chock-full of basic survival techniques and instructions for all sorts of situations you might find yourself in.

It’s not just for booksellers – but it couldn’t hurt!


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