Local Prepper Makes Good
October 1, 2017 10:14 AM   Subscribe

Joseph Badame spent four decades outfitting his home for the day when, he believes, an economic collapse will make it necessary for survival. But his many barrels of food couldn't stave off bank foreclosure. Rather than sending those supplies to the dump, a chance encounter has inspired him to ship it all to Puerto Rico. (SLnj.com)
posted by waninggibbon (47 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
 
Yay for good news, but the irony is crushing. If you build a house to ride out the breakdown of society, but it’s still owned by the bank, there’s a glaring flaw in your doomsday prepping plan.
posted by ejs at 10:26 AM on October 1 [50 favorites]


What a weird, sad, and warm story. Thanks for sharing.
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 10:28 AM on October 1 [10 favorites]


It sounds like they took out the loan when they thought she had a year to live and they weren't really into prepping any more.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:28 AM on October 1 [12 favorites]


This is a good guy. Not pictured is the weapons cache to fight off looters. Instead there are extra shower cubicles for the people he expects to help.

Walking through the place, she said, you had to marvel at how logical and smart he was about everything he collected.

"The man's brilliant," she said. "And his whole purpose was humanitarian."


There's a clock, in the mirror, in the shower cubicle. Genius.
posted by adept256 at 10:38 AM on October 1 [21 favorites]


Yay for good news, but the irony is crushing. If you build a house to ride out the breakdown of society, but it’s still owned by the bank, there’s a glaring flaw in your doomsday prepping plan.
That's not the irony. The irony is that he got a catastrophe, but it wasn't a bomb or the collapse of the economy or the apocalypse. It was the need to pay for his wife's completely bog-standard end-of-life medical care. He prepped for the breakdown of society, but he was brought down by the way society functions right now.

And yeah, he seems like a completely unobjectionable dude who had a very eccentric hobby.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:40 AM on October 1 [161 favorites]


Wow, that's an amazing place. I wonder what the bank is going to do with it. I sure hope they don't hold onto it and let it fall into disrepair.
posted by AFABulous at 10:44 AM on October 1 [3 favorites]


So the apocalypse he was prepping for happened, only it happened in Puerto Rico, not New Jersey. He wasn't wrong, just in the wrong place!
posted by chavenet at 10:49 AM on October 1 [10 favorites]


This might have turned down the screaming in my head about Puerto Rico from 12 to 11.
posted by hippybear at 10:53 AM on October 1 [9 favorites]


I'm not at all familiar with "prepper" subculture - from what little I've seen it seems like there is usually a lot of emphasis on being able to defend yourself and your immediate family (like the weapons cache adept256 references above). Is what this man did, i.e. prep with the intention of taking people in instead of keeping them out, at all common?
posted by btfreek at 11:01 AM on October 1 [5 favorites]


This is a good guy. Not pictured is the weapons cache to fight off looters. Instead there are extra shower cubicles for the people he expects to help.

Yeah, I generally have zero patience for prepper shit but I can at least respect someone whose approach is "when the shit hits the fan I can take care of my community" instead of "when the shit hits the fan fuck you, got mine"
posted by Itaxpica at 11:04 AM on October 1 [54 favorites]


I won't say that I participate in prepper culture at all, but I've had discussions with my circle of friends that if/when the shit hits the fan, we'll all meet at one guy's ranch outside of Ft. Worth to be with each other. He has the facilities for it.

I can see planning for grouping people together for mutual help with survival would be a thing preppers also think about.
posted by hippybear at 11:05 AM on October 1 [2 favorites]


So much sadness in this story, but at least someone is trying to do something good and kind.
posted by maggiemaggie at 11:10 AM on October 1 [6 favorites]


Is what this man did... at all common?

From the perspective of someone who lives and works in the Silicon Valley, where doomsday prepping is getting to be a bit of a luxury hobby, I would say it is not an uncommon sentiment. The prepper types I've spoken to DO own rifles, because (shooting is fun and) being equipped to hunt is a part of being equipped to survive outside of a modern infrastructure. I don't think they're interested in shooting anybody.

There is a strong overlap with the militia movement, though. Where those two meet there seems to be a strong fetishization of violence, but I don't know anybody in that crowd personally and I couldn't say what proportion of preppers believe what.
posted by Phobos the Space Potato at 11:11 AM on October 1 [3 favorites]


My brain made me do this, so I have to share:

🎶I thank Local Prepper and I'm proud
to have him as a part of the crowd
And when you look around these days,
There's a Thank You To The Local Prepper Craze!

I thank Prepper
He thanks Prepper
She thanks Prepper
They thank Prepper
Wouldn't you like to thank a Prepper too?🎶
posted by hippybear at 11:12 AM on October 1 [7 favorites]


This is the town I grew up in. (I didn't know the family though it turns out some relatives did.)

The opening line of the story is kind of funny since Medford is on the fringes of the Pine Barrens (previously) and is totally the kind of place one might find preppers living side-by-side with wealthy suburbanites.
posted by nev at 11:27 AM on October 1 [2 favorites]


But she ended up living eight more years, and the cost of her care and several trips, all while Badame couldn't work, meant he went broke the year she died.

There's no way to prep for a health crisis. An increasingly clearer image of america is that for the 99% of us, there are so many things that can go wrong day to day that can wipe out your life as you know it. We need universal healthcare, at the very least, not to mention so many other issues that a civilized society should be able to provide for its citizens.

The photos and story left me heartbroken that a fucking bank is going to own that property now, instead of someone who would let his neighbors used the showers when power went out in the neighborhood.
posted by numaner at 11:36 AM on October 1 [47 favorites]


It's awful that he is losing everything this way, but it is sweet that they made that fortuitous connection and the food is being shipped. At the very least, I hope whomever buys the house appreciates the unique history of the place.

As someone who is not in the 1 percent, I don't see any way you can realistically plan for this kind of medical expense. Our safety net just isn't very robust, and it takes a lot of resources to be able to absorb that kind of event.
posted by Dip Flash at 11:49 AM on October 1 [4 favorites]


This part was sweet:
Finding his purpose in getting the food and supplies to Puerto Rico has lifted his spirits. But on top of that, he also found a kind of adopted family. He moved the RV he's living in into the yard of Barber and Martinez-Barber.

"We joke that he's my new dad," Martinez-Barber said, grinning at Badame from her seat on a pile of sandbags in the driveway. Her father died and Badame never had any children, so their accidental but instant connection seems meant to be, they said.
Interesting that a broke doomsday prepper cares about Puerto Rico more, and will be providing more disaster relief to it, than the actual president of the nation responsible for its citizens.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:32 PM on October 1 [60 favorites]


I wonder what the bank is going to do with it. I sure hope they don't hold onto it and let it fall into disrepair.

We regret to inform you that Milkshake Bank...
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:39 PM on October 1 [11 favorites]


I hope the publicity from the article convinces the bank to give them extra time/help them move the supplies out. It's just a hassle for them if they foreclose and lock him out with all the food still in there. Banks probably don't want a lot of publicity on foreclosures, but he seems pretty resigned to it and they could get at least some good PR out of doing it with dignity and helping the people of Puerto Rico along the way. Or maybe there is an actual human in there somewhere who sees it's the right thing to do.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:03 PM on October 1 [10 favorites]


Her father died and Badame never had any children, so their accidental but instant connection seems meant to be, they said.

More people rescued!

btfreek, et al., there's a Theory of Anyway among some people who one might call preppers that is entirely about designing one's life to take care of the most people with the least demand on the economy and ecosystem. (The theory is, this is likely to be resilient in an obvious disaster, and we all pretty much know we should be doing it anyway.) Sharon Astyk used to blog about it. Totally about having enough to help the neighbors.

(Her prediction for what the collapse of the US would actually look like is, it's when everyone has a brother-in-law living on the couch and no reliable plan for when he'll leave.)
posted by clew at 1:12 PM on October 1 [12 favorites]


Is what this man did, i.e. prep with the intention of taking people in instead of keeping them out, at all common?

I think it's more common than not, especially when you're talking about people who store food, medical and survival supplies in favor of guns.

I've talked about growing up both in earthquake country as well as in a Mormon family, and so I don't think the idea of keeping a small pile of food and water is at all weird. I am pretty familiar with prepper culture both pro and con, realistic and irrational. Prepper culture also intersects a lot with camping and survival communities, because they all generally like the same toys and have similar goals - feeding oneself and comfortably sheltering in wild conditions.

Even when I'm poor I've almost always tried to keep a fairly full pantry, even if it means going to the food bank every week for a while to try to stock up on some basics like canned beans and veggies and rice and whatnot. Right now I might have about 100 pounds of canned food and dried staples like rice, oats beans and other non perishables and I have about five gallons of water as well as a water filter.

I know other people who do the same kind of thing on all sides of the political spectrum, and even the ones that are really into guns also know the value of food as a community need, that it makes sense to feed your neighbors or help people after an earthquake or other crisis.

I know a lot of proper rednecks, and I think the sentiment of "fuck you, I got mine" is a lot less common than something more like "Hah, I told you you should have prepared. Not feeling so smart now, huh, city slicker? It's a good thing someone prepared. Here, have a cup of chili and warm up by my awesome fire and when you're feeling better we'll put you to work doing dishes or cutting some wood or something. Ever dig a latrine? Hah, of course not, I'm just fuckin' with you. But, no, seriously, I'm going to show you how to dig a latrine because I'm happy to feed you but I'm not dealing with your shit, ok?"

I mean, say what you want about the pros and cons of country or Southern hospitality, but I've found it best to never underestimate rednecks when shit hits the fan and things need to get done. In the US when you see pictures in the news of someone out in a boat rescuing people in a flood, chances are pretty good they'd say "Hell yes!" if you asked if they identified as a redneck.

And while I'm not a redneck or a prepper in the rhetorical vernacular - I've told my housemates and random friends where I live that this cache of food exists and is easy to get to, and intentionally stored in a part of the house where even if the house collapsed in a quake it should be easy to dig out. That if they're hungry and shit hits the fan they should go eat and share it with whoever is hungry.

I even dip into it to just randomly feed people. More than a few times in the past year someone's said they're hungry because they're between jobs or they just didn't go to the store or something, and that just wont do and so they get a bag of pasta or rice and canned stuff that I need to rotate out of stock anyway.
posted by loquacious at 1:15 PM on October 1 [45 favorites]


So the apocalypse he was prepping for happened, only it happened in Puerto Rico, not New Jersey. He wasn't wrong, just in the wrong place!

The apocalypse happened to all of us, in slow motion, for about the last 40 years until quietly and without any fuss became a country with no infrastructure or support save the killing and jailing of people.
posted by The Whelk at 1:24 PM on October 1 [36 favorites]


Honestly, though, it sounds like this guy may also have enjoyed planning and building cool shit.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 1:25 PM on October 1 [5 favorites]


I have eaten
the beans
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for the apocalypse

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold
posted by Lanark at 2:19 PM on October 1 [25 favorites]


Honestly, though, it sounds like this guy may also have enjoyed planning and building cool shit.

Yeah, a lot of the world is generally a dumpster fire and has been for awhile, really, but I think a lot of the prepper community really comes down to people who want a Project and have money to burn. Some of them are awful paranoid bigots and those people... well, there's probably no getting to them. But some of them would probably do better if they could find some more productive things to do with themselves. My dad gravitated heavily to this sort of stuff--most of which he initially found out about through ham radio. He had some mental health issues so I think the paranoid part kind of resonated with him--he wasn't actively paranoid but anybody telling him that something terrible was going to happen seemed to slot in just fine with his depression--but really he just wanted to build things, so he didn't wind up doing much of the actual prepping anything but did end up doing some gunsmithing work for the ones who did.

I'm really glad that this guy managed to actually do some good, weathered his crisis, and now seems to be working on finding a new place for himself and new friends.
posted by Sequence at 2:51 PM on October 1 [5 favorites]


> I'm not at all familiar with "prepper" subculture - from what little I've seen it seems like there is usually a lot of emphasis on being able to defend yourself and your immediate family

The ones I know are more interested in where to find the best oxygen absorbers to keep their oatmeal dry. The pop culture image is definitely compounds and guns and bunkers, but in daily life that isn't my experience.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:57 PM on October 1 [1 favorite]


I was half expecting to see shelves full of Bakker buckets. I was pleasantly surprised that I did not.
posted by Avelwood at 3:06 PM on October 1 [2 favorites]


Each barrel that Badame has packed for them contains enough food for 84 people to live for four months on 2,000 calories a day, he said.

That's the same as enough food for 28 people to survive for a year, and though I know this can't be exactly how it works, the highest numbered barrel in the pictures is 21, which makes it seem like Badame could potentially feed like 588 people for a year, just from the food he's donating. Holy shit.
posted by 23skidoo at 5:21 PM on October 1 [2 favorites]


Guys, if we're looking for skills we can offer in a doomsday scenario - I can help! I make charts!
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:27 PM on October 1 [9 favorites]


Sweet. I need a chart that assigns everyone in camp who is able bodied and not infected with cholera to rotating shifts on KP water purification and latrine duty.

When you're done with that chart I need you pedaling on this stationary bicycle to pump water through the water filters. It'd be super cool if you could do both at the same time. Here's a clipboard.
posted by loquacious at 5:56 PM on October 1 [6 favorites]


Well someone's certainly seizing the means of production!
posted by elsietheeel at 6:01 PM on October 1 [1 favorite]


*assigns elisietheeel to the stockade construction team*
posted by loquacious at 6:39 PM on October 1 [4 favorites]


Some of them are awful paranoid bigots and those people... well, there's probably no getting to them. But some of them would probably do better if they could find some more productive things to do with themselves. My dad gravitated heavily to this sort of stuff--most of which he initially found out about through ham radio. He had some mental health issues so I think the paranoid part kind of resonated with him--he wasn't actively paranoid but anybody telling him that something terrible was going to happen seemed to slot in just fine with his depression-

Quoting this for truth, because this is essentially the root of unhealthy, excessive or imbalanced "prepper" activities and hoarding.

I can actually speak about this in my own way, and it has everything to do with feeling very insecure about your place in the world - and this insecurity means many different things and has many different roots to many different people.

And eschatological thinking is very seductive when you're dealing with mental health issues like depression or paranoia or anxiety - because it's a very concrete solution to those problems. It's also seductive as a distraction, because it is indeed difficult to remember you're dealing with depression of you're dealing with an open-ended crisis whether it's a major quake or economic collapse, or nuclear war.

As though wallowing in existential dread and fear is better and easier than confronting one's own issues or the roots of them.

The gentleman in the article is probably well within this unbalanced side of things. Because even if he's planning and storing that much food with the best intentions of sharing it with many in need - there's a limit to how much one person or a couple can really safely and effectively take on before it becomes a full time job of managing that stock.

There's a definite threshold where if you really want to make that much of a difference in disaster planning you join your local Red Cross, Civil Defense, Search and Rescue or other effective organization, or you start one. And people do this kind of thing all the time, and they do it in a rational and balanced way that doesn't involve building bunker complexes or storing more food than they can safely keep fresh and in rotation by themselves.
posted by loquacious at 6:53 PM on October 1 [4 favorites]


I'm not at all familiar with "prepper" subculture - from what little I've seen it seems like there is usually a lot of emphasis on being able to defend yourself and your immediate family (like the weapons cache adept256 references above). Is what this man did, i.e. prep with the intention of taking people in instead of keeping them out, at all common?

I don't know what the exact definition and range of "prepper" culture is, exactly, but, I guess, myself and, to a lesser degree, my wife are on the literal "emergency preparedness" end of that spectrum. We live in the (by now long overdue) earthquake country of LA County and had long planned to build up at least some sort of basic EQ kit. While doing research and starting to put together a kit I stumbled across a project called "Map Your Neighborhood" which is organized and promoted by the Red Cross and some of the fire departments in the county. It basically teaches people how to organize their block and come up with some sort of basic plan for disaster level emergencies. From there we moved on to CERT training (Community Emergency Response Team, a civilian volunteer organization that is directly attached to fire departments here).

Most of the people I've met during all those training classes are all about helping others when the time to do so comes. I guess the "fuck you got mine" crowd would probably not attend those classes in the first place, but at least it means that there are quite a few "preppers" at least in the literal sense of "being prepared" out there that are about helping others. Of course these are not your stereotypical Shit-Hitting-The-Fan/Civilization-Will-End crazies. They're just anticipating being cut off from help, supplies and communications for a limited time.

But I can't speak to how common that attitude is in general as I'm experiencing preparedness culture through the filter of volunteering and training/class attendance.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 7:18 PM on October 1 [9 favorites]


If you live anyplace with a difficult climate, or any likeliehood odnatural disasters, you are smart to do some low level prepping. Yes having it to share is part of it. When we went camping for the eclipse we brought LOTS of extra food for sharing with our group. 2 people could not afford both food and their share of gas. We told them just stay out of my seaweed and ginger-ale. We all shared. Real survival involves sharing. You never know who'se help you'll need.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 7:19 PM on October 1 [9 favorites]


We live in the (by now long overdue) earthquake country of LA County and had long planned to build up at least some sort of basic EQ kit.

If you peruse the LA subreddit earthquake prep threads, there are always people telling everyone to add a handgun to their kit for self defense. Less often there are people telling everyone to stock morale-boosters like candy and card games. I'll let the reader guess which of these groups of people have actually lived through an earthquake.
posted by Emily's Fist at 7:36 PM on October 1 [12 favorites]


Yeah, there's a huge difference between "being prepared for a disaster" and "being prepared for the end of the world". I've said this on the blue before, but my girlfriend and I (as per FEMA's recommendations) have a disaster kit with enough food and water to last us 72 hours, along with first aid supplies and a hand-crank radio/flashlight. That'll keep us alive in a disaster until rescuers can get to us. Stuff like that, or CERT training, isn't prepper-dom, it's just common sense. But in the case of a full-bore apocalypse? Personally, my game plan is "die quickly".
posted by Itaxpica at 8:12 PM on October 1 [4 favorites]


*assigns elisietheeel to the stockade construction team*

Sorry, not able bodied!
posted by elsietheeel at 8:52 PM on October 1 [2 favorites]


A mefite whose name escapes me lived through the war in Serbia and wrote a comment about how medical supplies were more valuable to stock than nearly anything. You can be pretty flexible on what you'll eat, but in a desperate situation you can't manufacture pharmaceuticals and surgical supplies.
posted by AFABulous at 10:25 PM on October 1 [3 favorites]


Well, guess I don't get to make fun of his lifestyle anymore.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:56 PM on October 1 [2 favorites]


A mefite whose name escapes me lived through the war in Serbia and wrote a comment

Dee Xtrovert's comment on bunking down for years during a war are some of the best of Metafilter.
posted by Thella at 1:47 AM on October 2 [14 favorites]


I feel this snippet of text pretty much sums it up:
Martinez-Barber told Badame that all the money from the food truck was going to help her family in Puerto Rico. They were alive, but homeless and hungry in Arecibo thanks to Hurricane Maria.
He donated $100. Then he showed her his food store room.
This is a guy that is being foreclosed on, and is having a yard sale to scrape together some cash to cover his living expenses. And his very first instinct is to donate $100 to some people he just met.
posted by Harald74 at 1:49 AM on October 2 [19 favorites]


The Puerto Rican community is tight and loyal. This man doesn't know it yet, but he's guaranteed himself a place to live for the rest of his life.
posted by corb at 3:54 AM on October 2 [9 favorites]


Sweet. I need a chart that assigns everyone in camp who is able bodied and not infected with cholera to rotating shifts on KP water purification and latrine duty.


Sure! we just need electricity and a functional computer with tableau, or heck, I'll even take a database and excel! Once you have that stuff up, I'll be ready to start. Until then.... I'll just bang these two rocks together?
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:26 AM on October 2 [5 favorites]


That's a pretty good outcome from a pretty bad situation.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:29 AM on October 2 [1 favorite]


Until then.... I'll just bang these two rocks together?

So, uh, how's your hand at epitaxial crystal growth? Maybe if you bang those rocks together a bit faster you can produce a single ingot of silicon and after I lap them to a mirror like finish with this charred wooden stick and draw a resist mask on it with concentrated berry juice and pine tar I can etch it and dope it with FAIRY WISHES AND POSITIVE THINKING!

*hands Nanukthedog a pen and clipboard, muttering something omnious about clay tablets and pointy sticks before charging off to see what the hell the deal is with the solar panels, again*
posted by loquacious at 12:43 PM on October 2 [3 favorites]


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