They Had A Plan

Content warning: this is set in my Planners setting (a very large organized family of preppers) and involves the current pandemic situation


The Family had a plan for nearly everything, and they created at least two new plans every year. 

 They had a plan for this.

Small catastrophes – something that was small by the Family’s gauge at least – they were more than set to deal with without barely blinking.  They did their normal grocery shopping, did their normal gardening, and when the orders came to minimize social contact, those few family members who weren’t comfortably set up to work-from-home were quickly set up to do so.  Cases were Family were furloughed – some jobs you just can’t do home – there was a Family emergency fund to support them, or, in many cases, there was something for them to do. 

An organization like the Family always had work that needed to be done.  Considering the bad experiences they’d had a time or two with outsiders who came to work for them and then wrote or recorded a tell-all- some lies, some truth, and some truth as badly skewed as possible – the family preferred to keep those jobs close, preferring Family and Friends-of-Family for everything possible.  

So they, as a family, and as individuals, were set.

No family member, no friend of the family, was going to suffer more than minimally from this current crisis,  at least financially. They were not yet good enough that they could protect all of their members from disease, and if they had been, this pandemic would not have happened in the first place.  And they had no way to maintain social distance and socialize, at least no better than the rest of the world had.

Sunday large family dinners were cancelled for the time being, or were held virtually over large TV screens from their own living rooms – the same way they went to church.  They were, like the rest of the world, trapped in their houses or on the farms. But they were comfortable, set, and not financially worried. 

But that – that was them.  The rest of the world was another issue. 

The family had always had other people in their plans; in the event of a system-wide catastrophe, they had plans to distribute food, take care of as much infrastructure as one (relatively) small organization could manage, and provide education for as many as possible in a sort of pyramid scheme of education, where those they taught then would tech others.

In addition, as an organization, the family donated heavily to several charities, including a couple they had set up for small-scale crisis relief (hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, this was the Family, after all) and aid in individual crises like house fires or layoffs.

Individuals in the family also tithed to the charities of their choice, and many worked locally with relief efforts.  In addition, the Family had food storage (of course) which eventually would expire, as most food that wasn’t terrifyingly processed did.  The Family policy was to donate all food at 75% of its shelf life – for instance, a 20 year bucket that was at 15 years in – to local food pantries or soup kitchens, along with surplus from any Really Really Good buying deals.

“It’s not enough.” Lianna had been doing her best to focus her working from home. Copyediting wasn’t exactly the sort of work that required other people much of the time anyway, and her side project – a non-fiction book of lost but useful technologies – could be researched almost as well via Skype, Zoom, and old fashioned phone calls as it could by visiting grandparents in person visit, although the Guilt Trip Level had been going up and up. 

But there was all this news. There was all this bad news, graphs and charts and – and when she could check the facts ,the actual proof was not all that much less depressing.

Right now, she was looking at an unemployment claim chart. Another screen, she was looking at the Family public works, which had been raised somewhat for the crisis.

“It’s really not nearly enough.”

Her husband, who had married into the family and didn’t quite always get the way the Family worked as a monolith, looked up from his own programming work. 

“We could donate half of what we have in storage and still be set for more than ten years,” he offered.  “I can drive it over to FoodLink today.”

“No.  I mean, yeah, we should do that, but the Family can do a lot more.  Multiply what we could do by every household in the Family and then double that and multiply that by 25%, and you’re close to what we could do.  The Family, the elders wouldn’t agree to that much, because it would cut into the actual core plan amounts, but I think…”  Lianna stared at her charts. “Remember that office building down by your office? Had that been sold yet?”

“No, and they’d dropped the price… Li. Lianna. Are you going to fight your family again?”

“Just a little,” she assured him.

She figured she probably deserved the deep sigh Adam aimed at her.  

“All right.  Let me finish this thing and I’ll help you out.”


“I have to say.”  The Family elder Jerome Brothers fiddled with his web camera once again.  “You’re quite good with statistics and qraphs. Have you considered working directly for the Family?

Lianna was not to be derailed.

“The family doesn’t need a full-time statistician and I definitely prefer full-time work.”

“Although I think that you’re not working as a statistician,” elder Jerome could not help but point out, of course.

Maybe she was letting herself get derailed. 

“With all due respect, it’s not my employment status that you should be worried about, elders, it’s the rest of the world.”

“And so you’d have us open up our stores.”

“Well, yes. For a 1 percent reduction in actual storage capacity.  Even if this goings on a decade, we can easily rebuild that, perhaps within that time  – that’s Chart B – and if not, then within four years afterwards – that’s Chart D.”

“And what,” another elder member of the Family, Sandra Southbend, cut in, as sharp as her boning scissors, “what would you have us do if we segue immediately into a catastrophe-level event?”

What in hell do you think this is?

She forcibly reminded herself that the Family thought in Very Very Large Scale and smiled. 

“Well, then we would simply subtract the potion we had donated this year from year one of the catastrophe schedule, at which point we would be giving to the community at large as we have plans for in any major catastrophe. I can show you that here on Charts L, M, and N.”

She’d gone through all of these questions with first her husband, then her the older of their kids, then her sisters and brother, and then her mother and father.  So far the elders in charge of the family had not come off with a single question that Lianna had not prepared a chart for.

“Won’t we be opening up members of the Family to catching the virus?”

“Yes.” Lianna blinked. 

She didn’t actually have a chart for this one.

Of course, she did have something.

“As listed in the original supplies list and diagram, everybody would be provided with gloves and face mask, and hand-washing would be mandatory. We’ve done everything we can to limit person-to-person contact and of course this would be volunteer only. We’re not going to require anybody to put themselves in any risk at all. That would be foolish.”

Her grandmother Linda for women leaned forward or, rather, Elder Stacia McDonald leaned forward, becoming large in the screen. 

“You feel very strongly about this, don’t you?”

Thank you, Grandma.

“Yes. Yeah, I do. This is exactly what our purpose for existing is.  We see to our own oxygen mask first, yeah, but then we help everyone else.  I meant it. We are set. We are, as a Family, so ready for this crisis, we’re already building playgrounds in shared backyards for kids that are just that bored.  We have a pre-generated teach-from-home curriculum. We have printouts.  We even have extra board games.  Our oxygen masks are figuratively and literally seen to. 

It was hard to to scan a room via teleconference but she let her eyes meet with the camera and hoped it felt to at least one elder like she was looking straight at them.

“We’re set,” she repeated. “Now it’s time to help others.”

She thought she’d done well, with or without the charts, but she was actually surprised at how much of the vote went in her favor.


Tables and chairs – those that the building didn’t already have –  had come from a party rental place.

Actually, almost everything to come from the party rental place, which was eager for business and more eager for good PR.

The appropriate Elders had gotten the appropriate dispensation from the appropriate government officials, many of whom played Friday night poker or Sunday afternoon bridge with said appropriate elders.

The food had come mostly from their own stores, and then they’d made a couple arrangements with some local restaurants food distributors. 

Masks had been half from a Family storage facility and half from a circle of very dedicated quilters who were now holding Skype Mask Bees. 

They sent out the announcement on the radio, on flyers, even in the local papers.  They walked down under the bridges and into the abandoned bridges and told people free food, no strings attached.

Chefs who had no work right now eagerly took the temporary job helping them make meals.

People were asked to wait in the heated foyer – it still wasn’t that nice outside – where brightly-colored squares of tape separated parties into 8-foot separations.   The foyer had hand-washing stations set up and face masks for everyone available.  

Some people just wanted groceries, and they were handed bags heavy with weeks’ worth of non-perishable supplies and topped with home-grown veggies.  Some people, many people, wanted the hot meal, too, and they were brought in one group at a time, given plates piled high with food, and directed to a well-cleaned office cubicle to eat. 

The people who’d left this building really hadn’t taken much of anything.  All Lianna had done was add bright tablecloths – the party rental place again.  Families got to eat in the former CEO’s office on the very nice mahogany desk. 

And for people really hard up, there were sleeping bags, mattresses, and portable showers set up on the third floor.  They’d done everything they could in a hurry, and they were doing more every day. 

She smiled at the web camera for their next meeting.  She told the elders the number of people fed, the number housed, the thank-you letters they’d received.  “Now, the trick is how to extrapolate this out to the whole country – and then of course the world.”

She had never before seen a 90-year-old man face-palm. 

And then her Grandma leaned forward.  “About that. We’ve been talking about jobs. This is going to take people, and, as you said, you have a full-time job already.  I think that if we hired people in exactly the right positions, it could be wonderful for the Family and for them to bring in some of those people who’re hurting for work right now.  I figure we can hire, mmm-”  

She touched her keyboard and a series of charts popped up.  “Here,” Lianna’s Grandmother chuckled. “See Chart B.”

The chart Lianna is looking at in the beginning scene is here – – this is a 20-year bucket.

I wrote this speech to text on a drive so please be patient with any weirdities.

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5 thoughts on “They Had A Plan

      • Having no pants: caught flat-footed. Entirely unprepared to tackle the problem that just appeared, as one is still running in circles attempting to locate pants and put them on.

        Having pants: Dressed and ready to go. Prepared to respond to whatever life throws at one.

        See also: knowing where one’s towel is, belt-and-suspenders, emergency pants.

        To be fair, flexible plans and extensive resources for emergencies are a step or three up from pants, which is more about the state of mind to deal rather than fall apart when an emergency arises.

          • It’s localized (geek/net?) slang, and old for slang, so probably largely fallen out of use. I was actually slightly surprised that Urban Dictionary didn’t have a suitable entry for my usage. 🙂

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