What is your SHTF value?

IDPA matchI’ve spent hundreds of weekends at hunt clubs and outdoor shooting ranges competing in IDPA and USPSA shooting events. I’ve met characters from other weekend warriors (like myself), and hard-core former-military, SHTF preppers. Including people from all walks of life, from farmers to dentists to cops and even other computer geeks.

Right after the common “so what do you do for a living“, the top follow-up is usually something like:

If it all fell apart tomorrow, what would you do for a living?

What they’re really asking here is:

“What skills do you have that don’t require a USB outlet?”

How would I contribute to society, or for my family, if there were no more computers?

Now, I’m pretty handy with tools and those of you who follow my blog know I’m a bit of a car/bike/racing nut, so I feel like I’d manage to get by and feed my family just fine. But it is an interesting question and I like to consider it from time to time, as unlikely as the TEOTWAWKI scenario actually is.

Well, that’s how I thought about it until today.

Right around lunchtime, one of my contacts at a local staffing company we use reached out to check in. Like the rest of the country’s corporations, we recently had a bunch of layoffs and furloughs take place. “So far”, I told her I was still employed (albeit at a reduced salary), “but the show goes on”. I followed up with a curious “are you guys still placing people in all of this?”, and her response was what got me thinking.

“Yeah surprisingly. There are a few companies still hiring and some banks are thriving with bringing in contractors for customer service type roles. Not for higher level development roles or management level”

And there it was. Hiring phone jockeys and service reps to deal with increased customer needs, but no leaders or developers.

Companies are reinforcing their front-lines and critical systems are staffed with technical skeleton crews, just enough to keep them running. Can’t say I blame them. A good developer can cost as much as four or five customer service reps.

If Covid-19 becomes the first in a long line of successors, as some are predicting, it might be worth considering returning to the old days of turning wrenches…