SELCO Interviews 4 Preppers About Success, Failure, and Lockdowns
by Selco Begovic
I usually answer readers’ questions in my articles. Sometimes people openly ask something. More often I answer folks’ questions in terms that I try to bring some reality from my perspective and my experiences. This is in a field where people are shoveling each other (in Preppersphere) with ridiculous ideas and opinions that do not have too much connection with reality.
I think we had pretty interesting months behind us or year, and I would not say it is the end of it. It is more like the end of one stage, and who knows what exactly is waiting for us in the coming years?
Well, we as preppers should have at least some idea of what is coming ahead, lets see now what we realized, accomplished, concluded, survived, or call it what you like in this past year.
Maybe it is time now for me to ask some questions here, and please try to give me your honest answers, let’s see where we at now, or more precisely where you are at now.
- In the last year what was your biggest “AHA” (mentally) moment, taking into consideration situation (pandemic, economy, politics…) around you ?
- At the beginning of the pandemic, what did you expect situation to look like in few months? How and in what way it was it different from your expectations?
- What was your biggest prepping philosophy that you believed in for years it would work but it did not work? What was your biggest surprise failure?
JIM COBB: I think my biggest surprise failure, if you can call it that, was seeing just how many people fought tooth and nail against the pandemic, insisting it didn’t exist. I’d always hoped that, when faced with something like this, folks would catch on quick and take steps in the right direction. Unfortunately, far too many waited far too long to take those steps and were left scrambling, trying to catch up.
At the beginning, we (the prepper community) were hearing all sorts of horror stories from China, but it was impossible to discern what was real and what was just rumor. When infections started showing up here in the US, we still didn’t know just how bad it might get. I, and many others, felt it had the capability to get REALLY ugly before it was going to get better. I was right and wrong. It wasn’t a collapse in any real sense, but it was pretty bad for lots of folks, simply due to how the pandemic was handled.
The biggest AHA moment was seeing just how many people struggled financially after being out of work for just a week or two. It wasn’t a blinding surprise, more that it drove home that I’d been right all along by stressing financial preparedness in my writing and teaching.
DALE GOODWIN: Biggest Aha Moment. This past year have been one that preppers have been hypothesizing for years. As 2020 unfolded, planning for “what if” turned into planning for “what now” and these days were left feeling like “what’s next”.
My AHA moment came in the beginning months of 2021 when I realized that prepping had gone from something we do just in case, to something that was becoming 100% necessary. While the pandemic wasn’t as bad as it could have been, the overbearing response from the powers that be have set us up for a huge fall. This could literally be the calm before the storm.
My Expectations for the Pandemic: As with most people, when this pandemic was in its infancy, I had no idea how it was going to unfold. I saw pictures of Chinese trucks spraying clouds of disinfectant in the streets and thought I was watching something from Alex Jones.
My first clue that this was going to be something bigger than expected was that our world leaders were shooting darts blindfolded and had no idea what was going on. Either that or they knew exactly what was going on, just not how it was going to unfold. That’s a conspiracy for another day.
What I didn’t expect from this pandemic was the overbearing response, and the willingness of most of the population to blindly follow these elected officials that seemed to be making things us as they went along. As we have so many times throughout history, we have given up liberty in exchange for perceived security.
This is not to say that the pandemic shouldn’t have been taken seriously, because it should have been. What it showed was how little some people use their critical thinking skills, and how easily some people will be led to the slaughter. I don’t think this was an intentional test to see how people would react, but if you don’t think they are taking notes you’re fooling yourself.
My Biggest Failure (Weakness Uncovered): One of the bigger challenges for preppers is inventory and rotation. While I do a fairly good job on keeping track of everything, complacency kicked me in the butt. During the good times it’s easy to justify waiting to restock the batteries, food storage, or God forbid, the toilet paper.
When the realization came that this was going to be bigger than most people thought, all the little things I had been putting off became one big thing. I was still more prepared than most people, but not to the point that I wanted to be. More accurately, I wasn’t at the point that I told myself I was.
FRED LIKEN: At the beginning my biggest realization was how everyone acted differently very quickly. If that would have continued I feel it would have been full blow SHTF much faster then I would have thought.
I originally thought everything would stop for maybe 60 days, then things would start back up the way they were. I didn’t think originally it would have gone on as long as it did, and It’s still going on.
I’ve always prepped for a catastrophe disruption of the supply lines, because it covers the most bases. In reality you can only cover so many bases. There is always things that come up and that you didn’t think of. While I had a certain amount of things covered. There still were holes in both my preps and plans.
DAISY LUTHER: My Biggest Aha Moment: I was in Europe shortly before the pandemic began and had flown to Canada for my father-in-law’s funeral in January. I had planned to stay a few weeks and visit with my kids before heading back to my gallivanting. Before January was over, I was getting reports out of China that made me say, no, this is it. This is the pandemic I’ve been writing about for years. I postponed my flight and went to stay with my younger daughter who had a spare room in Virginia.
The moment I got to Virginia, I rebuilt a stockpile as fast as I could. (I’d divvied up the original stockpile among family members before leaving.) By early February, we were set for a 6-month haul assuming utilities stayed on.
My Expectations: People initially rolled their eyes and said I was blowing everything out of proportion but something told me, no, I was not. Even though I was expecting it, I was shocked when people finally decided in March, oh, crap, this is for real, how fast they cleared the shelves like a horde of locusts. (And I was super glad I went with my gut and bought stuff in February.)
My Biggest Surprise Failure: For years, I had the big house full of supplies, the garden, even a farm for a while. I had decided to jet off on a one-way ticket to Europe just in time for a global pandemic, so I wasn’t as prepped as I would have liked to have been. This being said, I got prepped FAST and I would not trade my travel experiences for the pile of supplies I parted with beforehand.
- What, if anything, did you discover about your close friends and family in hard times? Did they act as you expected and hoped?
- Did the place where you are now living work out good, or as you hoped? What is your biggest realization about the place where you are (apartment-house, street-town) concerning the bad times around you?
- Did your feelings/expectation/opinion about government/system change since the beginning of the hard times and in what way?
- Based on your opinion now, what is the single (physical) prepping item that you found most useful to have in last year?
JIM COBB: I’ll be honest in that the pandemic and related issues didn’t directly impact my lifestyle to a large degree. If the last 18 months or so have taught me anything, it is that my preferred lifestyle is apparently called “quarantine.” I work from home, so there was no shutdown for me of any type. In fact, I was busier than ever, due to media interviews and such.
As for family and friends, some of them did just fine and others struggled. I had some people close to me get very sick, but I was very blessed in that none of them perished. We were well-stocked with food and other supplies, though we did venture out here and there to pick up a few other things, simply because we had the ability to do so.
The single-most useful prep for us was our financial position. We have very little debt, due to working our butts off to reduce what we owed over the last 12 years or so. That coupled with savings put us in a great position to last however long it took before things got back to some semblance of normalcy.
DALE GOODWIN: Friends & Family. Because I have an online presence most of my friends and family know about my prepping. Because I take a realistic approach to preparedness (not the Alex Jones approach) many of my friends and family looked to me for guidance.
I was pleasantly surprised that many of them had a plan, but just wanted some reassurance from me that they were doing the right things. While I was happy to give my advice, I also made a point of letting them know that waiting until the last minute was a bad idea. It’s like waiting until Christmas eve to do your shopping.
My Location. A while back my wife and I chose to move away from the city to a semi-rural location for exactly this reason. Putting distance between myself and large population centers has always been one of my top priorities. It’s much easier watching something unfold on the news than watching it happen right outside my front door.
Government Expectations. I’m not sure if I have a distrust of government because I’m a prepper, or if I’m a prepper because of my distrust for government. Either way, their overbearing response to the pandemic was no surprise. What is surprising however (a little bit) is their eagerness to make everyone slaves to the system. Even more concerning is everyone’s eagerness to become slaves to the system. A system that is closer to the edge than ever before.
Most Useful Prepping Item. My single most important prepping item was (and is) my wife haha. She is a registered nurse and in the beginning stages of the pandemic the last thing I wanted to do was go to a hospital. This also means that we have the first aid supplies and medications that I alone may not have thought about.
FRED LIKEN: Most of the people I know basically went and did their own thing. Some prepped harder, some complained, some seemed oblivious. It was the first time however some people I’m friends with turned on me for being ahead of the game. I was checking if they were ok or needed anything and I was called a fear monger or worse.
As far as where we are, it worked out fairly well in my opinion. At the beginning of the pandemic, we had some conversations with our neighbors and we agreed to consolidate and work together if needed. It was one bright spot in all of this.
As far as .gov goes, it just confirmed in my mind that they are both incompetent and dishonest at all levels. If a massive SHTF would be on the way, I doubt they would even tell us.
This isn’t very flashy for a prepping item, but we have excellent internet service. It’s high speed and very dependable. This kept everyone busy and entertained. This was very important during lockdowns and quarantines. It also was a solid source of information. I could keep up on things both local and national and react accordingly, because I had solid internet. It also provided a way to order things that may have been needed without going out. I believe now that the government will do anything to keep the internet running. It kept the masses in check to a certain degree.
DAISY LUTHER: Friends and Family: My immediate family – my daughters – were awesome and behaved in exactly the way we had trained for all those years for emergencies. I was really proud of them for thinking of solutions to different shortages and managing their situations as well as possible. One girl was in Canada and the other was the one with whom I stayed. Other family members and friends were rather disappointing. You know the sector of people who utterly refused to accept a pandemic occurred? Yeah, those folks. Some even accused me of scamming people because I wrote about the pandemic and what was occurring. They’re definitely not invited to the bunker.
I was also shocked about how many preppers who literally have pandemic preparedness supplies stashed away refused to believe there was a pandemic. I was like, “WHAT? THIS IS THE SUPERBOWL FOR PREPPERS. WE WERE RIGHT!”
My location: It SUCKED. I stayed with my youngest daughter in her inexpensive apartment in a not-so-great neighborhood in a city. Certainly not a place I would have chosen to lockdown. But at the same time, it gave me confidence. We were able to harden that little apartment, set up our own homemade alarms, create a fatal funnel for potential intruders, and make it work. We had to do some outside-the-box thinking but I believe in a more dire emergency, we’ll be awfully glad we have that skill.
The Government: They sucked even more than I expected them to. From one lie after another to a series of control grabs, it was a clusterfuck that began with Trump and has only worsened with Biden. Let’s be honest. They didn’t know what to do any more than the general populace did. Perhaps if President Trump had been able to shut down our borders when he first wanted to, it could have been better contained but the CDC and the WHO and Congress – it was one idiotic thing after another. If anything, it just solidified my scorn for the government and assured me I can never rely on them for anything.
My Most Useful Prepping Item: I would never have thought of it as a prepping item before, but my job. Running my business online allowed me plenty of time to research and I had very little interruption in income. I would also have to say my ability to analyze a situation – I know that’s not a physical item but I’m so thankful I listened to my gut and didn’t get trapped overseas during the original lockdown.
Your victories and mistakes
- Did your survival “philosophy” work well in the last year? What would you change now there?
- In what items or plans do you now think you wasted money based on situation in last year?
JIM COBB: I think the only thing I really wasted money on was on buying too much snack food, LOL. Like so many others, snacking became an all-too-common pastime. Other than that, we didn’t really spend any more money than we would have otherwise, I don’t think.
Overall, the plans we had in place accomplished what they were supposed to accomplish. The only changes I’d make would be to help some people close to me be better prepared for something like this in the future.
DALE GOODWIN: My Survival Philosophy. My prepping philosophy has always been to stay vigilant, gather important information, and stockpile supplies when times are good. The events of the past year have almost been a “test run” for when things do get bad. One quote from Benjamin Franklin that rings more true than ever is “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”
FRED LIKEN: Mostly our survival philosophy worked. The one thing that we failed on was asking people who we thought were more prepared if they needed anything or help. This backfired and we were called names. If the situation lasted any longer or got worse those people may have become threats. We realize this now and are more low key and have a smaller group of trusted people.
As far as money wasted, we have food that we have put up, but most requires some preparation. This doesn’t always work. If people are sick or working to keep things going, they may not be able to prepare food or have time. So we are looking at having more ready to eat food with little or no preparation put up.
DAISY LUTHER: Survival Philosophy: I’ve always been an optimist who believes “this too shall pass.” It passed like a kidney stone for some of us, but we’ve gotten through it. I had to re-emphasize the importance of privacy with certain family members who could have really run into trouble had they talked about the supplies that we had. I’m always looking for the work-around, for the lesson, and this was plentiful.
I don’t feel like we were wasteful at all. We bought food we eat to put back and continued to visit the grocery store and eat fresh food throughout most of the lockdown. We still have a pretty hefty supply of items that we purchased back a year ago February that we rotate into our pantries. I’m honestly not unhappy with a single purchase.
How have you changed?
Can you describe how last year change you (if you did) based on :
- your survival philosophy
- your life plans for future
- your overall opinion about people around you?
JIM COBB: My overall philosophy regarding prepping and survival remains unchanged. If anything, the last year has strengthened my opinions in many areas. My life plans for the future are largely unchanged as well.
DALE GOODWIN: What’s Changed. The past year hasn’t necessarily changed my preparedness plans or how I go about them, but rather my sense of urgency. It appears a number of different scenarios could unfold in the coming years, and the pandemic (or future pandemic) is not my main concern.
The past year has shown me how volatile people and the government are. While I’m not surprised by how people are reacting, it’s a little surreal watching things unfold in real time. Our government has done a fantastic job of pitting people against each other, so when the time comes, we will be fighting each other rather than them. As we are right now, and as we have been for some time.
FRED LIKEN: My philosophy has changed, I’m much more low-key now. My life plans are simple, live one day at a time and leave good advice and information behind when I’m gone. That’s part of the reason for my YouTube channel. People are people, I do like people, but I’m not as trusting after the last year.
DAISY LUTHER: My philosophy itself hasn’t changed. Over the past couple of years, I deliberately downsized and became more mobile. This was helpful in a lot of ways – I was able to go help my younger daughter financially when her job closed down due to the lockdowns. I learned that I can build a heck of a stockpile FAST for about $500. I value toilet paper even more than before.
I still intend to remain somewhat mobile but I’m staying in North America so I can get to my family members more easily if need be. The freedom of movement has been a bonus. I’ve spent the past 9 months in a place with very little sickness, few restrictions, and plenty of supplies. My increased adaptability has been nothing but an asset.
People? Man, a lot of people really, truly SUCK. I was sickened by the selfish behavior displayed by those who became fearful. The very ones who told me I was a lunatic at first for saying this was a potential pandemic became the most militant about masks, vaccines, and lockdowns. I saw the sense of entitlement skyrocket. I watched as social media literally brainwashed our young people into being utterly terrified.
Please try to answer the questions above after taking some time thinking about each one.
Bonus question would be answered after answering all questions above, and after carefully reading your own answers:
- What do you expect in the next 12 months?
JIM COBB: I don’t like to get into predictions. I know many in the prepper community are putting forth all manner of dire warnings about financial collapse and what not. As I often am, I’m just over here on the side quietly encouraging people to get their ducks in a row, simply because nobody knows what the future might bring. Work on becoming as self-reliant as possible. Form connections with those around you who can benefit you and vice versa. Use your head for more than just a hat rack and apply a judicious amount of logic and common sense to everything you read and hear. Above all – don’t be afraid to live your life.
Bio: Jim Cobb is the author of ten books about emergency preparedness. He is the Editor-in-Chief for Prepper Survival Guide and Backwoods Survival Guide magazines. He is also a regular contributor to American Survival Guide and other niche publications. The best way to connect with him is on Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/jim.cobb.739/ — or by email to [email protected]
DALE GOODWIN: During my decade-plus of prepping I have never had the sense of urgency I have now. It seems as though everything is on the table. An economic crisis, pandemic, civil unrest, cyberattacks on critical infrastructure and war (civil or otherwise) could all happen in the next year.
While it may seem unlikely that all of these happen in the next year of so, any one of these could lead to a domino effect causing secondary and tertiary disasters. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if this downward slide all started in the next year or so.
I personally think this is all intentional and the government is purposefully trying to crash the economy to bring on The Great Reset or something similar. This probably wouldn’t mean a Mad Max type society, but the transition to this “new normal” would bring with it many growing pains. Civil unrest and hyperinflation being my main concerns.
Bio: Dale runs the Survivalist Prepper website with his wife Lisa and more recently does a weekly live YouTube show with Brian Duff of Mind4Survival called The Survival Preppers. Dale also has The Bug Out Location membership website that offers a number of prepping courses, and a community to learn and expand your preparedness knowledge.
Survivalist Prepper: https://survivalistprepper.net/
The Bug Out Location: https://thebugoutlocation.com/
The Survival Preppers (YouTube): https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtm1nJt8BvBE7cVSDmjeKMA
FRED LIKEN: I expect things to continue on this slow downward spiral. I am concerned that if another event does happen everything will be worse the last year. Everyone has experienced a little bit of SHTF now. So people will be worse and more panicked then before and that makes for a higher potential for a larger SHTF next time. MR
Bio: Fred Liken is just an average guy that grew up on old time preparedness. A lot of old skills are relative to modern preparedness. Fred shares these skills, techniques, memories and mix them with modern preparedness on his channel: https://youtube.com/channel/UCo95iU0xxbk_Eo6y4lc7Alw
DAISY LUTHER: I don’t have a crystal ball, but my analysis is that we are just in the early stages of this. Right now lockdowns are lifting and everyone is running around celebrating. But we just watched how quickly and easily an entire nation could be deceived when “just two weeks to flatten the curve” turned into a year. We’ve seen regularly increasing civil unrest from all sides, and I’ve sadly watched many people who used to be friends with one another turn into enemies over differing viewpoints.
I expect further collateral damage economically and further civil unrest. My hope is that one thing which comes from this is a greater sense of self-reliance. I was delighted to see people making their sourdough starters, cooking from scratch, and gardening. Not all revolutions are bad.
Bio: Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She publishes content about current events, preparedness, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, The Organic Prepper. On her new website, The Frugalite, she shares thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances. She is widely republished across alternative media and she curates all the most important news links on her aggregate site, PreppersDailyNews.com. Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.
Thanks. Please, readers, share your own answers to these questions in the comments.
About the Author
Selco survived the Balkan war of the 90s in a city under siege, without electricity, running water, or food distribution. In his online works, he gives an inside view of the reality of survival under the harshest conditions. He reviews what works and what doesn’t, tells you the hard lessons he learned, and shares how he prepares today. He never stopped learning about survival and preparedness since the war. Regardless what happens, chances are you will never experience extreme situations as Selco did. But you have the chance to learn from him and how he faced death for months. Read more of Selco's articles here. Buy his PDF books here. Take advantage of a deep and profound insight into his knowledge by signing up for his unrivaled online course. Real survival is not romantic or idealistic. It is brutal, hard and unfair. Let Selco take you into that world.