I'm Tough and Stuff

In case you weren't aware, September was National Preparedness Month. People in Florida have this ironed out after Charley, Francis, Ivan, and Jeanne paid them visits this summer. But what does "preparedness" mean? We're Texans. We don't need no steenkeeng preparedness. We're tough and stuff... or so I thought until Allison decided to flood the Houston a couple of years ago. Plus, she did it last September. Everyone knows floods should occur early in the week so that we don't have to work and can still get paid.

Rather than discuss what we should do to be prepared for a terrorist attack or a category five hurricane, it is much more enjoyable to talk about things you should know prior to taking your late summer vacation to strange, foreign lands.

Let's do this in the "framework" laid out for us by the U.S. General Services Administration, which consists of three basic steps:

1. Make a Plan
2. Get a Kit
3. Be Informed

As is the case with many governmental processes, the steps are backward. How can you make a plan if you're not informed? We'll get to that in second.

Be Informed

My plan usually consists of not having a plan and free styling as things happen. Unfortunately, it is typically not very effective as my parents will tell you. Discovering what you don't know before you arrive comes into play.

Free styling a plan is cool until you're stuck in a hotel bar eating a crappy sandwich while watching WWE on mute with Celine Dion blasting in the background, which is what happens on business trips to Mississauga, Ontario de Canadia.

Picture a cool Euro-looking town complete with low pollution, funny money and interesting food. Now blend that vision with an image of Deer Park circa Urban Cowboy. Oh, and do not forget that your hotel is connected to your office, i.e. tu es sans voiture.

Had I only known these details prior to departing George Bush Intercontinental Airport, I could have executed Step 2 in the GSA Preparedness list: Get a Kit.

Get a Kit

No matter how Tough and Stuff you are, a good kit is a key ingredient to surviving outside of Texas or even some places in it. No matter how misinformed or ignorant you are a good kit (not a uniform for the Brits) can bail you out of any situation, just ask MacGyver.

According to the GSA web-site, our kit is supposed to consist of, among other items, all things battery powered, extra batteries, duct tape and plastic sheeting.

NOTE: you may want to include baby oil to get the duct tape adhesive off your skin. Don't ask. Let's just say I saw it on the Discovery Channel. Thank me later.

Since most Texans I know already have this stuff in their toiletries kit, I encourage you to develop your own Not in Texas Survival Kit (NTSK). Using the Mississauga situation as "basis for comparison" (buzzword), let's "drill down" (buzzword) to the core elements of a NTSK.

Hot Sauce of Choice
Canadian bacon is about as haute as cuisine gets at the Mississauga Novotel (the Motel 6 of Canada). My jerked chicken wrap was as big as an adolescent enchilada and tasted like it had been jerked from the side of the interstate. It needed some pep. I was jonesing for some Cholula in a bad way. You should definitely bring your own hot sauce.

Booze (or beverage of choice)
I'm not an alcoholic, but I played one on stage once. However, that said, I do enjoy kicking back with a cocktail after a long day at the office. So, I ordered a Jack on the rocks. What I got tasted more like a watery Jack snow cone. I could have easily averted the situation with a quick trip to the duty free shop. Coke drinkers should heed the bring your own advice as well. Canada (and other countries for that matter) have their own formula of Coke. Let's just say, "Not a big fan." Lesson #2: B.Y.O.B.

If you were paying attention earlier, this entry needs no explanation. Celine Dion during dinner? Celine Dion during wrestling? Celine Dion during anything? I need to send the YouHaveBadTasteInMusic.com guy up there. I suggested that the barmaid use my iPod to save those us from Celine, but she was not digging Lyle Lovett, The Scabs, Bob Schneider, The El Orbits, Pat Green or any other Texas type musicians I suggested. Kit part #3: music
There you have the three key ingredients for survival outside of your natural habitat. You may also want to include something regional. For example, if you are from Alpine, you'll definitely to bring your own goatheads and prickly pears.

Make a Plan

We don't need no steenkeeng plan. We've got a kit.

Post Script: You may also want to add extra alarm clocks to the kit so you don't end up stranded in Lost Wages after oversleeping and missing your plane... like me.

This was originally posted on TheBackWord.com, a Texas-centric eZine that has gone the way of the jackalope.

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