Comparison, The Thief of Joy

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By the author of The Faithful Prepper and Zombie Choices


I woke up with a start

Because today, it was the day!

Turkey, corn, taters too

And I’d just like to say


My attitude quickly soured

As I walked down the stairs

For as I walked amongst the preps

All stacked deep in layers


“I need more cans. This radio’s old.”

“And I’ve got to have more books!”

“Look at this old charcoal.”

“I still hope it cooks!”


“This Kelly Kettle has a ding.”

“This battery? Probably dead.”

“And I’ll be too when it’s post-apoc”

“Unless I buy more lead!”


“These med supplies, they’re not legit.”

“Just stuff from Dollar Store”

“The fancy stuff is where it’s at”

So I tossed them on the floor.


All these preps, all this stuff

But these thoughts were in my mind

Sure, yeah, it was cool.

But my stash was way behind.


“My buddy has more. This isn’t enough!”

“And I lost my old bee hive!”

“If I don’t pick up all this slack”

“My family won’t survive!”


“Look at these guys on Youtube!”

“Think of my buddy, Bob.”

“They’ve got more ammo, food, and guns.”

“And they make me feel a slob.”


“They’ve shelves and bins, a storage room”

“That must’ve cost eight grand.”

“If you cannot match Pinterest”

“If it’s not name brand”


“Then are you really prepping?”

“Or just collecting junk?”

My dissatisfaction with it all

Had put me in a funk


My new knife wasn’t cool as Bob’s

To his, mine was just a toy

Comparison had snuck on in

It is the thief of joy


I hopped into my truck

Just to get out. Clear my head.

Drove through the morning fog

Might pick up a loaf of bread.


I wandered through the backroads

The chill air whipping by

Upset with all I didn’t have

Falling for a lie


The grocery store was open

The clerks weren’t happy there

I was off and they were not

To them, it wasn’t fair.


Then as I drove out the lot

A tent, nestled among trees

An old man was sitting there

Trying not to freeze


His beard was grizzled as his face

A weather-beaten man

His clothes were falling all apart

And his skin was leather tan


I continued driving on

Somewhat shocked by what I saw

There’d been more homeless

Than there were last fall


I stopped to get a little gas

That truck can drink it down

Pulled into an open pump

Beside a car rust brown


“Daddy! Daddy! Candy here!”

“We go in? Pretty plee?

The kid beside me asked his dad

He must’ve been ’bout three


I watched his dad watch that pump

A grim look on his face

Candy’s just a dollar

But he said, “Not at this pace.”


Then he looked down at his son

Got down on one knee

Put a hand upon his shoulder

Said, “Listen now, to me.”


“Work’s been pretty rough of late.”

My job may be on the line.”

“Your momma’s doctor bills came in.”

“And then there’s the W-9.”


“We’re not getting candy now.”

“Cuz the money’s pretty tight.”

His son had twenty questions

But first he said, “Alright.”


My truck was filled up now

The pump gave off a ‘click’

I hopped on in, heading back

Beginning to feel sick.


I drove off in the fog

Down the winding, Southern road

The wind blew through the window

Someone’s rooster crowed


Lights ahead in the fog

Made me squint and wonder what

Was casting that eerie glow

Off the side, down in the rut.


I slowed down to a crawl

Creeping closer when

I noticed it was a car

Upside down and in


The bottom of that ditch

Steam came up from the front

No one else was around

And a tree did take the brunt


Of the impact of where that car had hit

It was bent around it well

I stopped the truck, jumped on out

I ran hard, but fell


Landing face-down in the ditch

Beside that upended car

A mouthful of leaves as I looked up

To see I wasn’t far


From a mom hanging upside down

Still strapped to her seat

I don’t know how I missed before

But I could hear the bleat


Of a little baby in the back

Strapped into her special chair

“Ma’am! Ma’am! Are you alright!”

I hollered at her blank stare


“A…a…a deer.”

Was all that she could say

“I’m here now, don’t you worry!”

As she unbuckled, crawled my way.


“My baby,” were the first words said

When she laid upon the leaves

Blood came from her nose.

Blood was on her sleeves.


I crawled into the car

Towards the screaming little girl

Tears streamed down her tiny face

Her brown hair liked to curl


Unbuckling the car seat

I gently got her out

Gave her to her mama

But then I had a doubt


That I could phone for help this far

Cell reception here’s real sad

But a cop car pulled by just right then

Saw the wreck, knew that it was bad


He ran on down the hill

Radioed to his dispatch.

I stayed until the ambulance came

And opened the back latch.


Mother-daughter disappeared

In the back of the ambulance

Sirens blazing it roared off

As I stood there in a trance.


Questions came then from the cop

He needed all the facts

I gave them to him again, again

“Thanks,” said Sheriff Max


Climbing back into my truck

Dumbfounded by what I’d seen

Was the momma gonna be alright?

And the baby! You can’t careen


Out of the way for one stupid deer

Mom, what were you thinking?

These thoughts filled my head as I drove

My heart, my heart was sinking


I pulled into my driveway

Opened up the door

Walked into the living room

Sat down on the floor


Turned on the TV

I just needed noise

Drown out all these thoughts

So I can regain poise


The news was the first channel

I just left it there

A Chinese defector, pleading,

Don’t make here be there!


I couldn’t take it all

The TV was too much

I turned everything off

I didn’t need that crutch


Then the irony of that morning

Hit me in the throat

After all that I’d just witnessed

Did I miss the boat?


My job was always steady

I sat here in the heat

A holiday for me today

A fridge filled up with meat


I arrived home in one piece

My truck was running fine

I’m American, gosh darnit

Weren’t these blessings mine?


To get wrapped up in the

“Oh no, this ain’t good enough.”

“This gear is all outdated”

“There’s not nearly enough stuff.”


Made me look deeper at my heart

What was wrong with me?

A basement full of preps

The land of the free


Now, there’s nothing wrong with prepping

Or bettering your lot

But the lack of contentment

Was what made me feel like snot


This Thanksgiving is finally here

A day to not get down

Because if you’re feeling envious

Just take a look around.


About Aden

Aden Tate is a regular contributor to and Aden runs a micro-farm where he raises dairy goats, a pig, honeybees, meat chickens, laying chickens, tomatoes, mushrooms, and greens. Aden has four published books, What School Should Have Taught You, The Faithful Prepper An Arm and a Leg, The Prepper’s Guide to Post-Disaster Communications, and Zombie Choices. You can find his podcast The Last American on Preppers’ Broadcasting Network.

Picture of Aden Tate

Aden Tate

Leave a Reply

  • Very nice Aden.

    I think you point out the important sentiment of what Thanksgiving is, or should be about: Being thankful for what you have.
    It can be material things like a roof over ones head, warm cloths etc.
    A table full of food.
    But in these times, just a full stomach might be more than some others have.
    It is also about being with friends and family.
    It is the one time of the year we all should reflect on not only the day itself, but the past year, and how we got to where we are.
    While some decry that America is built on all kinds of terrible things, at least it is a country where we can still go where we want, when we want. Practice your religion of choice or not at all. Have opinions and state them out loud, even if it critical of the government, of a person, or just have the right to say something completely dumb.
    Sometimes, I am just thankful to roll out of bed in the morning.

  • Envy may not only steal one’s joy, but it actually could impair one’s preparations. By concentrating on how one’s equipment or supplies are deficient compared to one’s neighbors, a person could actually overspend in one area to keep up with the Joneses, such that he ends up shortchanging other areas that are just as important.

    Be thankful for what you have and can do, and rejoice in your neighbors’ blessings.

    • I believe the Bible calls it being ENVIOUS…We are NOT to envy what our neighbors have…I think he now has learned that lesson. GOOD THING!!!

  • Indeed, Thanksgiving is about being grateful. I’ve got shelter, food, and warm clothing, which is more than 75% of the world has. I have choices; no one can sell me in marriage or take my earnings without permission, and that’s more than many women in this world have. I am alone with my cats working, but I chose those things and I’ve known far worse. Therefore, I’m grateful.

  • Very much enjoyed your poem. We seem all too quick to overlook our own cache of benefits, thinking of the greener grass elsewhere. Truly rewarding to read your submissions to the OP and look forward to more of the same. Hope yours is a very Happy Thanksgiving.

  • VERY good and I read every word. YES, look around b/c most of us just take things for granted and many of us don’t count our blessings. Today was the day to be thankful. Hopefully we can start to be thankful for everything we have every day of the year, for what family we have, friends, neighbors, out food, shelter and pets. As long as we have what we need there is a blessing right there. Count them, I get there are a lot after all. What a poet you are.

  • Aden,
    That poem, brought tears to my eyes. It really makes you think. Thank-you for writing it. And Daisy, thank-you for posting it.

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