Aug 4, 2011

Substantive Mediocrity

I learned recently there is a well known and often studied sociological phenomenon called "illusory superiority".  It leads humans to think they are better at something than they really are.  It's the reason that nearly everybody you ask  (86%) will say they are an excellent driver.  Even when we know for certain that many of us are not.  I mean many of you.  I am an excellent driver.  

I suspect this phenomenon is also the reason that I've always thought I'd be one of the people to make it through an apocalypse.  I thought I had survival skills.  Now, I know most people don't rate, or for that matter even consider, their ability to survive an apocalypse.   But it's always been one of my favorite entertainment genres. When I read books like The Road, or watch movies like 28 Days Later and TV shows like the Walking Dead I imagine myself in these situations.   I have always assessed my skills pretty highly.  However, after my latest fishing experience I'm not so sure now.  It seems I'm lacking the most basic skill set necessary --- catch food, kill food and clean food.  Though I still rate my ability to eat food pretty highly. 

Our company summer cookout this year was held at a trout farm.   The fishing doesn't really offer challenges to the true fisherman.  Throw your hook in, wait 30 -90 seconds, snag a huge rainbow trout.  Good for kids with little to no patience or those who just want some fresh trout and aren't necessarily there for the fishing experience.  I don't like fish.  I rarely cook it.   My husband loves fish.  I decided to give him a rare treat by catching and cooking some fresh trout.  Well, to be honest my plan was always to ask somebody else to catch it for me.  The worm business really grosses me out and there's no way I'm grabbing that slimy, squirming fish.

So an awesome co-worker/friend of mine caught two beautiful rainbow trout within a matter of 2 minutes.  Plop, into the bucket they went.   Fortunately for me this trout farm will kill, clean and prep the fish for you for a fee. All I had to do was carry the bucket up to the cabin for processing.  Being very aware of my own limitations I quickly realized that as soon as one of those fish flopped around in the bucket I would scream and drop it.   The fish would spill out all onto the ground and there would be no way I could actually touch one to get it back into the bucket. What to do?  What to do?

I asked another co-worker/friend to carry it up to the cabin for me.  He gladly obliged.  We got to the cabin and the fish were dumped into a plastic bin sitting on top of a scale for weighing.  The fish were easily 3 - 4 feet off the ground.  I was a good 5 - 6 feet away from them.  All of a sudden they started to flop around.  I screamed.  One of the fish jumped out of the bin and onto the floor.  I screamed and ran around the other side of the counter.  The fish squirmed its way around the counter and was making a bee line straight for me.  I screamed and started running towards the door.  Finally one of the trout farm employees nonchalantly scooped the fish up.  Ha ha - all very funny and amusing.

Fast forward three hours and here I sit with my raw, processed trout.  This primal feeling, brought on by the thought of cooking a freshly caught fish for my man disappeared as quickly as it came when I realized the stupid things still had their tails, spines and skin, ewww....  I couldn't bring myself to touch them in order to prep them for the grill.  I had to ask for Jim's help in turning them over and putting them on the fish rack.  

That's when the whole apocalypse thing hit me.  I'll need Jim if I have any hopes of surviving.  I couldn't do it on my own.  Now I am asking myself all sorts of other survival questions Could I start a fire without a match or lighter?    Am I physically fit enough to outrun a zombie?  How far could I conceivably hike in one day?  How long before my lack of food catching skills and dwindling physical capabilities move me from "help" to "hindrance" in people's minds?    A dear friend of mine insisted my managerial abilities will be useful in a survival situation.  I'm not so sure the ability to flowchart, mediate and delegate will be quite as marketable as putting food in people's bellies and kicking zombie butt.     


  1. And it gets rather cold at night without a nice warm bed to sleep in as well - I have caught one fish in my life but ended up putting it back in the river - it probably had brain damage from all the drops and lack of O2

  2. Im really shocked at this. Did we teach you nothing during your summers here in florida? I know you left with the knowledge of pina coladas. You had that down pretty good. I guess its just a matter of wanting to learn something. If you want to learn it you will.
    Anyway if you ever want a do-over where fish is concerned, let me know. Your favorite cousin. Bonnie

  3. Great blog. You have a lovely way of rambling along, without making me think, "Ok, get to the point!"

    Any chance you could visit me at ? It's a genuine attempt on my part to get the ball rolling, not understanding how blog traffic works. Thanks.

  4. LOL! You are so funny! And you're right, not many people think about surviving an apocalypse. :)

  5. That was GREAT! I can just picture that trout coming after you. I think you are correct about people rating themselves higher than deserved. I, on the other hand, am truly one of those survivors. I survived the last apocalypse and will do just fine during the sure to come zombie infestation.