What’s the worst that could happen? I know this one.

I’m a collector of worst case scenarios.

I possess a store of them in my head, it gives me peace of mind. This is a contradiction in terms, which is the only proof of ownership I need. I like to think of myself as super realistic (without the whimsy of its expialidocious sister).  I could chalk it up to survival instinct, being that I was born and raised in New York. Of course, I also lived in Delaware, a state in which neither fight nor flight was invented nor adhered to. Just ask George Washington.

The technical explanation for my doomsday library probably has something to do with the executive orders my cortex is choosing to ignore. Most people don’t think up twelve different scenarios (all bad) for every situation, do they? It’s enough to make an amygdala cry, like for real.

Fact: The only reason I need a shopping list is because as soon as I step inside my favorite grocer I begin reviewing my contingency plans. I have one for every possible scenario I might encounter. While a bystander would take my glazed caramel irises to mean I’d just been shagged by some groovy prescription meds, the reality is that I’m simply preoccupied with the badness manual flicking through my brain.

For instance,

I can tell you how many fire exits my grocery store has and where they are located  in the event it becomes engulfed in flames. I also know that my cell phone will hold a signal in the produce section, the bakery, and Aisles 1-4 plus 18. This is helpful should I need to call 911 after a psychotic Rambo wanna-be storms the place in search of some meth money.

I never cross in front of the ginormous plate glass window, just in case a minivan happens to hit the gas pedal rather than the brake as minivans are wont to do. I never take an item from the front of the shelf since everyone has handled it, but just as importantly I never take one from the back just in case a serial killer has tampered with it. I never use the restroom because it’s located through the rubberized double doors in the back of the store. For all I know, the store manager might be carrying on with the hot little number who works Lane 6. What if I crash his party and he decides that since he can’t afford child support he’ll off me with that jumbo sized can of pork and beans?

I steer clear of the break room as well. That’s the scene of most workplace shootings since that’s where former employees spend most of their time before they became former employees. Attempting to explain this correlation while staring down a glock isn’t the best idea and I ain’t looking for the store manager, because . .  well you know.

The upside to these perpetual machinations is that my expectations are almost always dashed. I haven’t experienced a single five alarm blaze, armed robbery or murder in my life. And lord knows I’ve prepared for it. Not that there haven’t been times when I was caught unawares.

There was a gas jockey in a San Antonio convenience store who was busy figging his lovely co-worker’s newton when I happened into the stockroom to pay up on my fuel bill. Thankfully, I can think on my feet while using them. One motion, same price. So I bolted the place with a Playboy magazine, some Twinkies and a tank full of free gas.

The fact that I got away with it can only mean one thing. The guy was married.


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