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 TheOrganicPrepper.com and TheFrugalite.com. 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.



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