Selco survived one year in a city surrounded by the enemy army and cut off from the rest of the world. He has been through hell during the Balkan wars 1992 – 1995. Learn what it took him to stay alive.
Jay and me always talk about stuff and think about next article to publish here. Last week he came home from driving somewhere at night and told me that he is not sure if he wouldn’t get “power rush” once SHTF. With power rush we mean that you take advantage of absence of law and order and play god in post collapse situation.
He asked me why I didn’t do that. Because of few reasons: I am not man like that, yeah I did shoot at people for fun actually, and also I have seen how some man gets destroyed after doing things like that.
Either go crazy or gets killed in gruesome way. So this kinda belief in destiny, karma and those things, helped me to stay away from dark side. Not in religious sense but its just general principle that I saw repeating around me.
So at the end what you do eventually hit you back in the head. Situation was bad enough so no need to make things worse.
To make things more understandable for you, I thought like Jay before war, I mean about that things. But as soon as you get involved in real sh!t you see that real things are different.
I thought I will be guy who makes decisions like god (I mean like “i will kill rape, steal, have fun”) but then I realized that when SHTF you are able only to make decisions in that small circle around you, I mean you just want to stay away from events like that, you do not want to risk anything and be part of creating more suffering.
In real SHTF people get killed so easily. Somebody who is about to get shot and knows this tried to bite the guy who shot him. It failed, but still.
Few times I already mentioned young guys (and some older too) on many survival forums, who have opinion that when SHTF it is something like mix of Mad Max movie and PC game, so all you have to do is to have gun and go around and take stuff from people and kill them and thats it.
It is not like that in real life. Doing acts of violence will shock you hard, and depending what kind of person you are deep inside and what kind of training you have be prepared to suffer consequences because of what you did.
Why people do bad things is question that is as old probably as mankind is.
Truth is that you do not know what kind of man you are and how you will act before you find yourself in SHTF situation.
You know that when times are bad all kind of scum crawl out to do their job. Kill, rape, torture, steal. But you may be surprised that monster does not necessary need to look like monster.
Gang members, criminals, addicts, they all gonna prey on people when SHTF and you will expect that of course.
But also expect that your first neighbour who is local bus driver for example, and your kids played with his kids, turns out to be sadistic maniac when SHTF.
SHTF may be his playground.
I knew lot of psychopaths who become „important“ in terms that they were deciding about life and death of folks and lot of them were nobody before SHTF, absolutely nobody, not even „decent“ criminals, point is that they always were bad deep inside, they just waited for their chance.
In most of the situations SHTF does not „make“ bad people, it just „pulls out“ the bad in them. They already were bad but often too scared because of laws to let all hate and anger and crazy ideas out.
I had many chances to maybe go easier through my time in war, but it would have required from me to do very bad things. I did not do it because I am not that kind of man.
Did I do some bad stuff? Sure, very often, but in order to survive and protect me and my family and not just for fun or to feel powerful.
During the period of my SHTF time I met all kind of folks, in all kind of situations. Bad people, desperate ones, lost ones, confused, dead ones.
After some time I had this idea that I know all kind of human characters, or even that I am some kind of „expert“ when it comes to knowing human nature in bad times. Of course I was wrong.
During one of the night looking for resources my neighbour gets caught by one of the enemy groups. He simply stumbled in the middle of dark in their hands, however stupid that sounds.
After they disarmed him and give him few casual kicks in kidneys they took him to their captain. Captain was big dude, dressed in brand new uniform, with rank markings and barret on his head. Completely in contrast with his soldiers who in short looked and smelled like animals.
Neighbour said that man looked and smelled nice, and always had smile on, but when he heard that his folks call him Baron he freezed. Baron and his unit were something like mercenaries fighting for anyone and against everyone, as needed.
They were quite popular for few things: they had private prison, their headquarters was something like mix between Roman and crazy seventies parties, with lots of women, violence, drugs and alcohol, but most famous thing was that they beat and kill for fun.
He asked my neighbour few questions, then start to beat him even before he answered it. My neighbour said that he stop with beating only after the few punches because he seen blood splashed on his uniform.
He looked disgusted with that blood on uniform and go to clean it with water while my neighbour lost one tooth in that few minutes.
His soldiers kick him few more times and then throw him in something that was before the war tiny weather observation post. Nobody came to check him all day, he spend it loosing and gaining consciousness. He awakened in the middle of the night because of strong noises, similar to shots, but not really shots. Then he realized that something was hitting that container where he was locked.
Through the small hole he sees soldiers running everywhere around, and laughing and screaming like they are having fun. Then he realized that Baron camp find itself in way of airdrops, and MREs were literally raining all around.
Maybe one hour later one of the soldiers unlocks the door, came in carrying hands full of MREs asking him : “Are you hungry?“
My neighbour did not answer anything. Guy repeated question. My neighbour said „yes“. Guy kicks him in the stomach and asked again „are you hungry?“ My neighbour said „No“.
Guy said „f#ck it man, so much food is all around and you are not in the mood“ and left the room. He lost account of time, he remembered that they gave him bottle of water to drink but no food.
And then their leader Baron came in. He carried steel bar in his hand and had smile on face.
My neighbour said that it was clear that this time he is gonna beat him to death with that bar and he tried to make some kind of peace with himself and world.
Baron started to ask questions about his family, kids, where he lives and similar stuff. My neighbour started to talk in panic about everything and he mentioned my name.
Baron stopped and asked him again about my full name and how do I look. Neighbour tells him that we are neighbours and kinda friends.
He look for few moments at him and then called two of his guys and ordered them to help him to get on his feet. They put some big bag on his shoulders, very heavy for his state. Two of the guys helped him out of their camp. When they released him Baron told him „say hello to him“.
Neighbour walked some 200 meters like in dream, expecting to get shots in the back as a part of usual game. He said he tried to remember any kind of prayer, anything, but his head was blank. But nothing happened. When he was safe he checked bag and realized it was full of MREs. Small fortune. His weapon was there too, without bullets.
He also realized that during that 200 meters he peed in his pants, he said later it was because hits in kidneys, and I said yes, but we both knew that those 200 meters were longest 200 meters in his life.
Later when we met each other and when he tell me that Baron sends greetings to me, and because that greetings my neighbours life was spared I was surprised, because I knew that man from the bad stories, but I never met him.
Anyway we split the bag of MREs sure that it was some kind of misunderstanding about that greetings.
Years later, after all was finished, and lot of things forgotten, I read small news in newspaper. That famous Baron was shot to death in overseas country during bank robbery. He was living there for years under the false name.
His picture was there and his real name too.
I realized that we went together to elementary school, play football together, listen same music, once we fall in love with same girl. I was something like his older brother or protector because he was always kinda weak or scared of conflict.
We were friends, he was shy kid and I cannot remember he ever got involved in any kind of fight. He could not stand the blood. We lost contact after elementary school.
I had mixed feelings when I read that news and realized that infamous Baron from the war, and my shy school friend were same person. He turned out to be bad man, but again he spare one life maybe in memory of that school playground or Iron Maiden LPs. Weird.
Life has very strange paths, and some very strange ways to show you that somehow everything is connected.
When SHTF you ll see that man who have power and force are making decisions over life and death and it is kinda temptative and addictive thing.
Do not get caught in the thinking and acting that you are invincible or can play god just because there is no more law out there and you have gun. Sooner or later you are gonna realize that you are vulnerable and that there are meaner people than you are and you get what you give.
Stick with your family or group and try to survive. To survive you want to minimize your risks and playing those evil “games” is not worth it.
More about my experience during war in my survival course.
I had many questions and comments about faith, religion and God. I did not answer many of them with too much details just because usually this would started discussions without too much connection to survival, but with lots of hate and anger.
Today I want to talk a bit about this.
Of course faith and religion played big part of survival when SHTF, but maybe not like most of the people would guess.
One of the questions that I had few times is „did the folks who had faith cope better with everyday problems?“ Answer is probably „yes, most of them“.
But I also must say that lots of people who had lots of faith and were good folks died with terrible deaths too.
I knew more than one man, some whole families who died, or lost family members simply because they had attitude „it is gonna be what God wants it to be, and we can not do too much“.
I always prefered attitude that „ I ll do whatever I could and rest is not in my hands anyway“.
Just like everything in normal life and especially in survival situations you have to put effort in to make it. In survival it is not about a promotion or more money, it is about seeing one more sunset or making sure your kids have chance to grow up and see adulthood.
I know guy who was real warrior and tough dude, he didnt care too much about rules, what is right and what is wrong. So you can imagine that he did whatever he wanted to do in that time, including some very bad stuff.
He survived and later I heard that he completely devoted his life to religion. I see him from time to time, standing in front of the local center, with religious literature in hands, trying to talk with folks.
He looks 20 years older then he really is. Small guy talking about salvation.
His tattoos on fingers look strange compared with literature that he holds with those same fingers. I talked with him, he said that every night people who he „sent“ to other world visit him, and he talks with them. Every night.
He said that he accepts that as a part of punishment, adding that he is aware that bigger part of punishment is waiting for him on „other side“.
You need to have faith in something when SHTF. It does not matter what religion or what you believe in, it can be you. You will experience situations where you have to make very hard choices and others where you experience things that are hard to imagine. Without some believe it would be very hard, and simply you risk to turn yourself into animal.
One thing is for sure: be ready to pay for whatever you did, sooner or later. I tried to stay on right „side“ and to do good only.
But you ll see that doing only good when SHTF and survive is impossible, so you gonna be forced to to some things that are wrong, and that you do not like.
And be prepared to pay for that, maybe day after, or maybe 20 years after. But those demons gonna find you.
Groups of people during survival situation and religion
In the beginning days religion had important role in creation of groups. Religion also had strong impact on how groups reacted and what kind of things they did.
But here is few very important things to be aware of. To have group strongly based on religion did not always mean that they were good guys.
Actually very often I saw and had „bussines“ with different kind of groups who called themselves „strong believers“ and still they were doing very bad things, just in the name of God.
So you could easily see guy who considered himself strong religious man, who killed children.
I am talking here about all kinds of religion. I saw all kinds of examples. Do not (always) mix good things and religion. In normal times it means the same maybe, but when SHTF things gets twisted and some groups gonna use religion to justify attrocities they commit.
Of course I saw also examples of religious guys who died trying to save someone, because they tried to do what is right.
Aftermath and religion
As I said many times, people cope with bad things from the past in many ways.
And I must say here that I know lot of people who find their peace in religion. Most of them who I know from SHTF and 20 years before who become really religious guys are real believers, and kind of people that you can call in short „good people“.
Another guy who has become involved in religion based center for addiction recovery told me that as more as he work with worst kind of addicts, he is becoming more free from listening to screams from the past every night.
I am quite sure that he was reason for some of those screams that he is still hearing. Simply on one or other way you gonna have to pay price for what you did.
In short I think religion can be very helpful if it is not twisted. It can be like set of personal values guide someone and help to see light when all world around has turned to darkness.
What role does religion play for you when you think about coming collapse?
Buying stuff for your SHTF storage is good off course, and buying it on smart way so you can save some money is always welcome since most of us are not multimillionaires.
But have you ever thought about buying the things for SHTF scenario on some not so „regular“ ways? It will save you money too but maybe even more important is that it will prepared you and show you how finding and buying stuff will probably look when SHTF for real.
I am not advising you to do anything that might be against the law, I am simply gonna give you examples how I find some things. It is up to you how you or if you gonna use anything of it.
Have it when you do not need it (have it before you need it)
One of the most basic rules in preparing and acquiring things for SHTF is that you need to have it before you need it. You may think „oh, but it is so obvious“ yea and no. Sometimes it is not. When SHTF you may find out that it is very important to have for example tetanus shots updated, but then it can be too late. You need to fix that before SHTF.
Simply if you gonna look for the tetanus shots when SHTF price can be high. In every SHTF scenario anywhere in the world there is gonna be people who are gonna make fortune and power by having the stuff that most of the other folks do not have, because it was not so obvious that it is gonna be needed.
Ways to obtain things
Things can be bought in many ways. Some of them are illegal more or less so no advice, just examples.
I buy my fuel from guys who sell it not from the gas station, I buy it always from the same guys so in that way they do not find it useful to cross me with adding strange stuff inside in order to make more money. Repeat customer is good customer.
Where do they get it? I do not know, and I do not want to know. But some examples would be that they are just dealers for the big guy who want to „go across“ some taxes expenses, or they buying it as a „agricultural“ fuel etc. I do not ask. Is it illegal? Yes. Am I seen and did worst things then that? Yea, sure. Survival.
Ways to buy things does not necessary needs to be illegal, it can be just strange and other than you use to. In that way you are just preparing yourself for finding things when SHTF.
Some its like practice for getting things directly from people. Why not start now and tell neighbours what you can get for them cheaply and ask them if they have connection to some stuff too?
I know people in different areas of life. So I know guys from local politics and guys from local small gangs. I like to keep my ear on ground as apart of preparation for coming SHTF. Money is short here and during war people got used to get stuff through other people so the same system still works.
I also often trade for something when it makes sense. I use my preps and trade two pairs of police boots for new jacket for example.
What things do I need?
Do not think only about „ what things do I need?“ feel free to think about „what things people need?“ because you are gonna trade it.
Look around you and keep in mind when SHTF the term „useful thing“ gets whole new meaning. So you ll see ( I saw that ) that for some people it is priority to loot mall and take TV set, stereo or something similar.
I saw few guys in first days of chaos were rolling 4 new car tires from looted mall, they were laughing, very happy because they thought they made good „deal“ with that. I guess pretty soon they realized that those 4 tires are worth like one pocket knife or something similar.
Smarter folks, or you can say people with „vision“ look for the weapons, food or similar useful stuff.
Important thing is that everyone took everything, it was like storm. As the time passed by and when everything „more useful“ was gone people took everything else, like pieces of shelves where stuff was kept. People find use for that too.
For example when SHTF I expect people to smash parking machine for the money inside, I am not gonna care for the worthless coins inside, but those machines work thanks to small solar panels installed on pole above it. I would go for the panels that most of the folks not gonna notice at all.
Small things were always useful to trade. Also some bigger „invented“ things had good price, like small wood stoves made from cans or pressure cookers. Pretty soon people who were skilled made good trade with handmade portable wood stoves.
Maybe you can find something to build with empty cans or other waste products?
People tried to trade everything so you could see some funny stuff too, like I wrote in other post the old FM radio taped to some huge batteries handmade from other sized batteries and taped together. Or homemade teas guaranteed to cure something mixed from different kind of plants.
Of course scams were everywhere and you needed to be very cautious.
It was always better to have more small things to trade then bigger bulkier stuff. Easier to carry and easier to sell. Candles, batteries, lighters, canned food, spices, small tools, pocket knives…
What more you can do today
Of course that preppers look for discounts and wholesale, yard sales and similar chances to save money. But also you need to think about practicing bargaining.
I am buying lot of things on local flea market or through people I know. You can find lot of things on flea markets, and if you look hard you can find stuff that are not usually belong there.
Few rules :
- Never act like you really need the thing you want to buy (let it be your second choice for example)
- Split money in more pockets when you bargaining (do not bargaining with hand full of money)
- Many times seller will set the price basing on how hesees you in that moment. So of course do not show off any symbol of wealth.
Also remember that buying things at the flea market (in your case maybe yardsale or similar) is very good practice for trade in SHTF condition simple because there is a few things similar.
Prices not fixed (they are more thing of oportunity and skills), way how you look act and talk sometimes can be more important than how much money (value) you have in pocket.
Remember that when SHTF lot of things can be valuable, things that you usually would not even notice in normal life.
For example when SHTF batteries and candles had big value, reasons are of course because people are still used to commodity of light at night, using it in every room etc.
But very soon folks realized that candles are something like luxury so for example if you wanted to read book you would read it by daylight, or people in house simple gathered in one room under the light of one candle in order to spare the others.
So value of candles went high up in beginning and then got down.
So if you planned to make some big success with something for trade it can be said that you need to choose correct time. Some things have same high value almost all the time, like coffee, or cigarettes.
Other things gain value over the time, multiple times value. Stuff like some seeds, plants and knowledge about plants like teas, and herbs for healing etc.
Point is if you offered at the beginning stage of SHTF homemade teas as a remedies for something you would not have big success, because people did not believe that SHTF gonna last too long, or in other cases people still had some stash of antibiotics, painkillers etc.
When few month passed and people realized it is gonna SHTF gonna last for longer period, and no doctors, no hospitals, diseases spreading of course that home made remedies become suddenly popular and in the same time much more expensive.
I have more examples about trading in my survival course.
So small things that are kinda ridiculous cheap in normal time and normal life become important equal expensive. One more example would be flints for lighters.
Things like these are very important if you stash many things in order to do much trading to make life easier when SHTF.
Point is to carefully observe what things have what kind of value and more important what thing have chance to multiple value in few weeks or months.
I even knew guy who make small necklaces for luck, you know kinda of small metal on rope and if you carry that all the time you can be sure that bullet gonna miss you, he was something like monk, he trade that for food and it worked. When times are desperate people do and trust in lot of things.