Survival Diary February 24: We Make a Trip to the City

We made our first big shopping trip to the city in two months and it drove home the difference between living in big cities, small cities and rural areas.

Skyscrapers in the city

Today was our first trip to Sam’s Club in two months.  Since we were going to the city, we also went to Target, a bookstore, Home Depot, and had lunch at Chik-fil-A. 

Since the city is on the other side of a mountain range and takes more than an hour to get there, it was a very full day.  We left at 9 a.m. and didn’t get back until after 4 p.m.  Then we had to unload, unpack and put away all the food. 

We used the trip to Sam’s to stock up for everyday meals and to add some food to our long term-storage.  Canned good are very much in stock at the Sam’s Club we visited.  They had a very robust selection of dry goods as well.  They had excellent sales on pasta, some of which was 60 cents a pound when you bought a six-pack.  That’s a remarkable price when you consider that pasta is often a dollar a pound on sale and anywhere from $1.20 to 1.50 for a box.  We bought 12 pounds of pasta and added six jars of spaghetti sauce.

We bought other tomato products as well, including tomato paste and diced tomatoes.  Don’t overdo it with these products because canned tomatoes tend to have a shorter life in cans than they do in jars.  I have had more cans of tomato products on my shelf leak through than all other products combined.  This is a good argument for canning your own tomato products using Ball canning jars.

Common Prepping Items are Available

When I look at the list of common grocery items you can buy and store in your prepper pantry that do not require refrigeration, most were available at Sam’s, including: 10-pound bags of pancake mix, at least two kinds of oatmeal, multiple types and sizes of rice, 12 and 25-pound bags of flour, yeast, canned chicken and other meats, canned tuna and other fish, canned chili, ramen, peanut butter, nuts, dried fruit, crackers, breakfast and other bars, etc.

Almost a year ago, we published a 30-day meal plan that you can buy at a store like Sam’s Club and store in your pantry or a closet for 18 months or more.  If you have never downloaded it, get the free PDF here. 

Let me remind you that we are already in a period of rising food prices, both on a global scale and in your own personal shopping cart.  Putting some extra food on the pantry shelf may save you from hunger one day.  If it doesn’t come to that, at least it can save you a few bucks.

Meat Shortages Continue

The meat aisles and coolers were full, but that’s a little misleading because there was limited variety.  For example, we were unable to buy one of the pork cuts we like, lamb chops, or ground buffalo meat.  Even more shocking, the normal packs of chick drum sticks and chicken thighs were not available.  We talked to an employee in the meat department and he said they are still having trouble getting everything they order.   I can certainly understand not having a specialty item like buffalo meat, but no drum sticks?

We did buy pork chops at what I consider a good price: $2.09 per pound.  There were plenty of pork chops, pork loins, and country ribs available at reasonable prices, but beef was pricey.  At more than $10 a pound, one of those big packages of steak can cost more than $50. Bacon was available. There were lots of packaged cold cuts—that shelf was fuller than we have seen for a long time—and many kinds of sausage in both the fresh meat and the refrigerated section.  Our freezer has been re-stocked.

We also restocked our supply of cheese, butter, eggs, some cleansers, and other products we eat regularly.

There were plenty of paper towels and toilet paper, and hand sanitizers were for sale everywhere.  I am also amused at how ubiquitous masks are becoming. Every place we visited, except Chik-fil-A, was selling masks and hand sanitizer.  Yes, even Home Depot and the bookstore.

Cities Size and Rudeness

If you’ve read this blog a long time, then you know that back in the 1990s I lived in New York City and over the past 25 or so years have moved to smaller and smaller cities, and then to suburbs, and now to the country.

Every time we move, it is noticeable how much friendlier people are in our new location.  I think this has a great deal to do with the size of the cities. 

My experience in New York was that people in your neighborhood who knew you and recognized you were friendly towards you, but not to others. And politeness?  Ha!  You were lucky to get civility.  Of course, when you think of the crowded conditions, the long waits in lines, the packed subway cars, and the busy streets, it’s really no big surprise the New Yorkers aren’t the friendliest people in the world.

The city we went to today has about 50,000 people, and boy were they friendly.  I mean outgoing, helpful, and sweet.  Not just towards me, but to every customer I saw.  I’ve shopped in Home Depot stores where you have to hunt down an associate and ask them a question.  Then they make you feel like you have interrupted them and they point you in the right direction.  At this store, every single associate who walked by asked if I needed anything, and when I did, they were quick and eager to help.  The same thing at the bookstore: Are you finding everything OK?  Watching the staff interact with children and their parents was impressive; the staff really seemed to really care.

We were Warned about Country People

When we moved to the country, people (mostly not from the country) warned us that we would not be accepted.  We were told that country people were clannish, that they didn’t like outsiders, and that if you offended one the word would spread because they were all related.

I am happy to report that we have not run into that at all.  Everyone I have interacted with has been welcoming, from the clerk in a store to the deputy sheriff on the street.  We have had nothing but positive experiences.

I would add that I go out of my way not to be (or appear to be) impatient.  I am not demanding.  If you can’t get something done for a week, well a week sounds pretty good to me, thank you very much.  I always introduce myself, and I’m willing to stay and chat a bit.  If someone comes by the house, whether to deliver gravel or to service the HVAC, we invite them in and offer them a cup of coffee or a soda (very few take you up on it, but they appreciate the offer).  I also try like heck to remember their name, something I am not always very good at.

 Whenever possible, I get a personal reference and I name drop. When I go to the barber, I tell them that so-and-so recommended him.  When we went to the shop that sells locally grown food, we mention that our neighbor sent us.  The owner said, “Oh, has she had you over for trout yet?  She buys all her trout here.”  Personal recommendations keep us from being a total unknown, and that helps open the door.

If you Can’t Make Friends, Don’t Make Enemies

I’ve always felt that not being a dick is a good first step when it comes to getting along well with others.  Taking the time to listen, not being judgmental, being helpful and caring, and not saying a bad word about someone else makes for a wining equation.  You don’t find too many people who do all that in large cities, mostly because it’s rush, rush, rush, and bitch, bitch, bitch.

If you move to a rural retreat, keep that in mind. You left the city behind. Leave the attitude there as well.

Author: The Pickled Prepper

Pete the Pickled Prepper lives on an isolated homestead on the side of a mountain deep in in rural America. He has been preparing for the end of the world for more than 25 years.