french vanilla creamer; coffee

I’ve been writing a column for the magazine about survival hacks, which seem to involve repurposing everyday objects into tools and weapons that will prolong your existence when everything hits the fan. (Our generalized fear of the apocalyptic future has made a bunch of survival “experts” wealthy. It’s a great business opportunity if you know how to work it.) Among the things I’ve learned are that the porcelain lid to your toilet tank makes a great live bird trap when you use a No. 2 pencil to make a “break-notch” trigger. You can turn an empty Pringles cylinder and some window screen into a nifty solar-powered dehydrator by cutting a window into the cylinder and inserting meat on a skewer. And always remember that you can increase your underwater vision by cupping your hands across your forehead and along your temples to create a water-tight seal—trapping air, which is easy to see through—and slowly lowering your head underwater.

These hacks are, of course, silly. But at least they show some effort. Compared to the ranchers and self-styled “militia” guys who took over the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon back in January, whoever came up with these hacks looks like MacGyver. I recently came across a list of items the occupiers requested from their supporters outside the refuge. It makes them seem like guys who’ve never been outside before.

Here’s some of what they asked for:

• Mayonnaise and Miracle Whip. They’re supposed to be badasses and can’t even unite on which kind of sandwich spread they want? Wasn’t anybody in charge? A good leader settles this kind of thing internally.

• Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, deodorant, shaving cream, safety razors, wipes, tampons. This is pathetic. Did they think the government was going to give up the same day they walked in? Also, soap pretty much works as shampoo, body wash, and shaving cream all in one tidy package, at least for me.

• French vanilla creamer. Man, these guys really shot themselves in the foot with this one. If you put French vanilla creamer in your coffee, you can’t expect a librarian to take you seriously, much less the FBI.

• Gaming supplies. Does that mean playing cards and poker chips? Or were they thinking Uno, Scrabble, maybe Candy Land? Did George Washington ask for this kind of stuff at Valley Forge? This is like a child complaining that he’s bored and expecting a parent to entertain him. On a ranch, he’d be told to muck out stalls or feed the pigs.

• Sliced cheese, shredded cheese. Again, a huge PR blunder. How about just cheese? Or did nobody remember to bring a knife?

• Money. Is this related to the gaming supplies or were they just out of change for the vending machines?

• Marlboro Red 100s, Marlboro Lights 100s, Pall Mall Menthol 100s, Chew Copenhagen. The only way this could be more picky would be if they specified hard pack or soft and refused to accept them if the cigarettes didn’t come in the right box.

There’s a lesson here. I’m sure of it. I just wish I knew what it was. Please send me someone who can explain it. Preferably a woman, blonde, good-looking, between 5-foot-6 and 5-foot-9. And don’t forget the Chew Copenhagen.