Friday, December 18, 2009

Pantry? Why Bother?

Last week I posted the details of my can rack that I built to organize our pantry. That was the HOW, but what about the WHY?

Why would anyone want 460 cans of food? It's a fair question, and the answer may not be as immediately obvious in all lives as it became in ours.

To answer this question I need to go back in time a few years. For those who know me personally, this is all old news, for those who don't this is a small glimpse into my world.

I was raised in a large family on a very limited budget. My mom bought things on sale and used coupons. She stocked up on things when she could afford them, and we went without when she couldn't. She canned a lot of fruits and vegetables at home, and, although we didn't live on a farm, she had been raised on a farm, so she lived with the philosophy that you have all summer to grow and preserve the food you need to get through the winter until next summer.

Diann was raised with real similar philosophies, budget, smart shopping, stocking up and planning ahead were all terms that governed the way she shopped.

That worked great for us, and we were happy.

Let's take the time machine to 2005. I had a good job, making good money, and life was good. We had a well stocked pantry, a decent emergency savings account and were doing all the things that would lead to us moving out of the townhouse we lived in and buying a home.

I went to work every morning, came home every night, once a week my paycheck magically appeared in the bank, and everything was rosy.

We worked to get ourselves debt free, and once we reached that point, we felt good about buying a truck. This was the first brand new vehicle I had ever owned in my life and it cost roughly twice what my parents paid for their house back in the early sixties. But with my good income we could afford it.

Then, one Tuesday morning, I went to work, just like every morning, but I didn't come home that night. Three fourths of the way through my 12 hour workday, I took a serious fall. I heard the bones snap when I hit the ground, but the reality and severity didn't hit me yet.

I took my cell phone out of my pocket, as I lay there on the ground, and called my boss to let him know I had been hurt, then I called Diann to let her know I wouldn't be able to drive home, and would she please come get me.


The ambulance took me to one hospital where they looked at my x-rays, told me that my injuries were way out of their league, and loaded me back into the ambulance. That's when it started to sink in, but I still figured I'd be on the way home by morning.


At the next hospital, the surgeon explained that I would probably be able to walk again in about 6 months or so. He told me that he was scheduling my first surgery for 6:00 the next morning.

All that and the key words "first surgery" finally sunk in. This wasn't your everyday, get a cast and go home type of injury.

Although I was covered by Workers Compensation, there were a few immediate snags.

1) There is a waiting period to get your first check.

2) You don't get paid anything for the first week you are off work.

3) Even when you do start getting paid, you only get a percentage of what you were making, in my case 64%.

4) no matter how hard you try to avoid it, there are going to be additional expenses that you didn't plan for. (Workers Comp. later reimbursed us for a portion of those expenses, about 18 months after my accident, but left us holding the bag for about $5000 worth of assorted cost.)

So, I went from a comfortable income to zero income in the blink of an eye.

At the same time, Diann's income took a big hit as she had to take so much time off work to deal with things.

It was about 2 months before things finally settled back into a routine, where we got a steady consistent, reliable income again.

Try telling the power company, the landlord, the phone company, Ford Motor Credit, State Farm Insurance, or any other one of a number of faceless entities that you are waiting to hear back from an insurance adjuster to see when you will have money again, and watch how fast they fall all over each other to cut you some slack.

It just doesn't happen. The corporate bulldozer just keeps plowing away, and you either jump on board, or get out of the way, or get run over. They don't stop, or slow down, or turn aside, for anybody.

Fortunately, we had some money in savings, not a lot, but some. We had a well stocked pantry, not necessarily as big a variety as would have liked, but at least we had food.

We also had an incredible support system of friends and family, who were there for us without our asking, to make sure that we had the things we needed.

We had no advance warning, no time to get ready, we went from happy-go-lucky, to emergency-survival-mode all in the five minutes from the time I talked to my supervisor to give him a progress report for the day to the call five minutes later when I told him an ambulance was on the way.

Our pantry, our savings, our advance preparation, were what carried us through a very scary, very challenging, very difficult time.

So that's the WHY part.

That's the reason to keep a stocked pantry, to be prepared, to have things on hand.

Life seldom gives you warning, it just sneaks up, when you are least expecting it, and bites you on the butt!


  1. What an interesting story. First of all -sorry for your accident. But you learned something so strong and valuable about life which I think in this economy would be a good thing for us all to learn. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Troy,
    You never know what might happen in your life and it does pay to be prepared that's for sure. That pantry is just what every one needs, to be prepared for those blows that life might send your way. It was a amazing job that you did on it-Bat installed one for me last summer and everytime i open it I'm thankful.

  3. Thanks for sharing your story - you never know what will happen while you are busy doing other things, eh? You sound like one tough guy, so glad you didn't give in and give up!!! Where in this winter wonderland do you live?